The two common options to develop websites are freelancers and contracting the work out to web agencies. So how do you make the decision?
The single biggest advantage of hiring a freelance website designer is the cost. The freelancer, working independently, is not saddled with the overheads of a web agency, and in a highly competitive field, would more likely pass on the resultant cost savings to the customer.Many talented freelance website designers, new to the profession, and eager to develop a valuable client-base, would develop the website at a considerably lower cost than what web agencies or even experienced freelancers would charge.With freelancers, the company is always at a strong bargaining point. In fact, freelancers may be considered as de-facto staff of the company, assigned on project work. The company has the best of both worlds, enjoying both the flexibility to dictate things and paying for results rather than for the time spent.
A freelance website designer, however, has serious limitations, as well. The freelancer is a single individual, with no or few associates, and as such, would have limited time to offer. The resources on hand including the software would also be limited.
Most freelancers have their niche in certain areas. In areas where they are weak, they rely on fellow freelancers. Or, such weakness becomes apparent in the end product. For instance, a freelancer may be very good in providing innovative designs, but may be weak in content. Very often, the company would have to make improvements over and above the freelancers finished work. Developing a website requires both creative and technical expertise. The freelancer would in most cases be proficient in either, but rarely in both.
A web agency, being an organisation, is more likely to have a wide talent pool to deliver a complete package, not lacking in any areas. For instance, the agency would have multiple designers with varying background, and experience who pool in their creative expertise, to offer much wider range of ideas for the design and functionality of your project. On the execution front, the web agency can adopt the iterative approach, or entrusting portions of the work to different designers, and then joining it all together, to get the work done faster. The agency would more likely have a broader range of resources, including software, and licences, as well.
On the other hand, the advantages of hiring a freelancer, such as costs and flexibility, translate as disadvantages of website development using a web agency.
For all the advantages and security that web agencies provide, at the end of the day, they may simply sub-contract the work to a freelancer, and take a cut as the middlemen. That’s something to certainly watch out for.
Whether it is better to hire a freelancer, or a web agency, ultimately depends on the nature of the Website. For simplistic and straightforward website designs, a freelancer may be a good option. For more complex projects, and where a long-term relationship with the developer may be beneficial, a web agency may be a better bet.
As a rule-of-thumb, it is better to entrust large and complex ecommerce websites, CRM portals, and other content management websites, with web agencies, and it is more effective to hire freelancers for simpler projects.