How to pick a UX designer relationship

How to pick a UX designer relationship

Pros and cons of using freelancers, agencies and in-house UX designers

Currently, the flexible workforce is thriving, and the rise of the digital nomad will expedite this further! With the current state of the world, businesses and staff have realised that to work productively, you don’t need to be trapped in the office. Many take this as an opportunity to strike out on their own and set up their freelance businesses. But, when it comes to UX designers, is it best to outsource or keep it in-house? Well, in today’s blog, we’re going to look at the pros and cons of using a freelancer, agency or permanent in-house staff when it comes to UX design for your business!

The Freelancer

Using freelancers can be cheaper than hiring an agency or getting someone in-house, especially if it’s just for a small task. But, if you are specifically choosing to use a freelance worker more often because they are cheaper, you are essentially creating a false economy for your business. Freelancers, while flexible, don’t have the fallback that agencies or in-house teams can provide (unless they work with a collective). This creates extra costs and potential delays if the freelancer becomes unavailable. If you want to go down the freelancer route, check with them to see what they have as support, good freelancers have a network that they can call upon when they get stuck.

Because they’re the experts in their field, most freelancers have many strings to their design bows! Freelancers often have experience provide the most efficient and cost-effective way to get a highly specialised job done that goes beyond the capabilities of your in-house team.

That said, if you hire the right freelancers, you can reduce cost, receive a better service, and get a higher return on the work created. People with the confidence to go freelance tend to be the ones with the most talent and experience and can achieve results. Don’t forget; it’s essential to do your homework to source the right people for the job.

A freelancer’s flexibility can be great when it’s working in your favour. But it can be a double-edged sword! Be aware that some freelancers will walk away from projects to be “flexible” for another company with more money to spend. It is also worth considering that a freelancer will never be as invested in your company as an in-house designer or long-term relationships with agencies. After all, why would they be? They’re not reaping the long-term benefits of helping to build a business. Sometimes a freelancer can come in with fresh new ideas and perspective, adding creative value to your business but at the risk of upsetting established employees. Your staff should always aim to be professional, but this should be considered and nipped in the bud if it arises.


Now, let’s talk about UX Agencies and Consultancies

You don’t always need in-house staff to get the best for your business, especially when it is easy to find a good UX design agency or UX design consultancy, especially in the UK! By hiring an outside agency to complete your work, you free yourself and your staff for other vital projects that need your touch. UX agency staff have a breadth of experience collectively, from constantly working on various projects. They have a variety of different skills between themselves. Compared to a single freelancer or in-house designer who don’t have other staff members to consult with and gain advice.

Because UX agencies are used to delivering high-spec work to specific timelines, they have systems in place to ensure you get the results you want and in the time that you need them. Their collective knowledge also means that they have the time to stay on top of trends from lots of different industries, so you can be sure that you will end up seeing ideas from the agency that you might not see from other sources.  A single freelancer on their own who has a lot of deadlines coming up could struggle to complete your work on time as they don’t have the structure in place, and with that, they may also not have the time to stay on top of their personal growth.

Hiring an agency will allow you access to incredible UX design services and multiple designers but without the cost of retaining a full-time member of staff. However, some UX design agency’s do make promises they cannot keep. You will have to spend time looking for the right agency that is a good fit for your business and will deliver the scope of work within the agreed time frame and the agreed standards. This means having to look at possibly dozens of agencies before finding the right one, taking your time away from vital business tasks. But once this is done, you have a relationship to build and maintain with a fully flexible and responsive resource that will last for as long as your company needs it.

In-house designers

The first positive to having an in-house UX designer is that they get to know you and your business. They learn from the beginning how you like to run things and how you expect work to be delivered. Hiring an agency will give you a wealth of knowledge. Still, the benefit of having an in-house designer means that they have a clear grasp on the projects, the internal thought processes and ideas (this can also go against them after a while) and an incredible knowledge of your customer base.

An in-house designer or team of designers will also have their finger on the pulse of current trends that apply to the business’s clients and customers. It will be better suited to tailoring their design work to those needs, although this can become stale after no new thinking is injected.

Having a team of designers working with you does seem like a fantastic idea, but what happens when the project is complete and there’s nothing else in the pipeline? You still have wages to pay, and these can be considerable.

We Are Stage One

Now, let’s talk about us!

We Are Stage One is a UX design consultancy that can be described as both a digital and traditional UX design agency. We also have a network of User Researchers and User Experience Designers that we can use as contractors to reduce the headaches around IR35 that so many companies face. You can find our podcast about it here: https://wearestageone.com/how-will-ir35-impact-contractors-and-businesses-with-dave-chaplin-from-contractor-calculator-ep-3/

Or if podcasts aren’t your thing, you can read more here: https://wearestageone.com/ir35/

If you have a design project coming up, whether that is a software build, a new website or a web app, drop us a line, and we will walk you through what options you could go with.

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