So, you have decided you want a new website. Great, but now you’re thinking, who should I have design the website? How do I pick sides in the Freelancer vs Agency debate? Well, that’s what this article is for, to try and help you decide. What are the pros and cons of a digital agency? Why might a freelance web designer actually provide better customer service? These are some of the questions we’ll look to answer.
As you’ve probably found out from the rest of my website, I’m a freelance web designer. But that doesn’t stop me from admitting that going with an agency definitely does come with advantages. They usually have medium to large teams. This means they can handle the largest of projects. Something I’ll admit, I may not be able to. After all, at least for now whilst I grow my business I’m a lone wolf. I simply wouldn’t have the time or the range of expertise to carry out a custom site build which would take 6 months to complete. If that’s what your after, then definitely go with an agency and save your time reading this article. On the other hand if you’re not looking for a custom coded website worth 5 to 6 digits, then a freelancer may well have the edge in the freelancer vs agency debate.
So what are differences between a freelancer and an agency?
I’m going to list some of the main differences between a digital agency and a freelance web designer to help you answer the important question: Who do you want to design your website? An agency or a freelance website designer?
There is no need to pull any punches, cost really does matter. Especially for the smaller business who may not have a tonne to invest in a new website. And this is one of the biggest differences between a freelancer and and an agency. An agency will always be more expensive than a freelancer. If they aren’t, then there is probably an issue somewhere. Either the agency have had to lower their prices due to poor service or the freelancer probably isn’t a freelancer and is in fact an agency just pretending to be one.
You have to remember, that agencies have a lot of costs to cover. They’ll usually be needing to cover costs for a posh office space, the costs of all the expensive computer equipment, and even the cost of the staff who aren’t working on your project. All these overheads can add an awful lot on to the cost of your website, even if you end up with the same end product.
On the other hand a freelancer is most likely based in a home-office with little to no extra costs to cover just as I am. And we can pass that saving over to our clients. We also tend to be very flexible with a lot of freelancers willing to have payments either as a one-off project cost or over a set of instalments.
You can pretty much guarantee that a freelancer will always be cheaper when its comes to cost.
I don’t think I have to say this, but communication is absolutely key when building a website. If you can’t communicate effectively with whoever is designing your site, your website really isn’t going to end up great.
Now I’m not going to tell you that you’ll receive bad communication from a digital agency, if they have a great reputation, you probably will. After all, if they weren’t good at communicating, they probably wouldn’t be successful.
However with a freelancer, your communication and relationship with them will probably be a lot more personal. Rather than having a receptionist fielding your calls, you will speak directly to the person designing or looking after your website. This means there is a much lower chance that your message may get lost in translation.
With an agency there is also the chance that you will have to deal with multiple people who may be working on your site, which just adds a further hurdle to smooth communication.
Who will be able to offer you the largest range of services? This is a good question, and you may think that this is the most obvious one in the freelancer vs agency debate. Surely it has to be that agencies can offer the largest range of services because they can afford more staff with different talents and expertise?
Its a fair point and you’re right, most agencies can offer a lot of services. But, so can freelancers. For example, here at ADB Web Designs, I offer a range of services including web design, web hosting, website maintenance and search engine optimisation as well as the management and setup of Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace. We even offer other digital marketing services such as email marketing and newsletter design.
So, as you can see, we also offer a lot of services. And the chances are, even if we don’t offer it, we probably know someone who does. For example, most clients who need a new website, will probably also want a logo. I’ll be honest, logo design isn’t something I’m amazing at. But the freelance graphic designer that I used for my logo is amazing at it. So you can guess what I do when a client wants a logo. You’re right, I ask my graphic designer to create that logo. So even when a freelancer can’t offer you service, they probably know someone just as amazing who can.
When it comes to customer service, its once again a real tough question. Customer service is at the heart of every business. Or at least it should be. If the business is reputable, then you should be getting good customer service regardless of if they are a freelancer or an agency. If they didn’t provide a good customer service, they’d probably have a lot of bad reviews.
This one really does go down to that personal feel once again. With a freelancer, you’re always in contact with the person building your website. But that’s not just it. In my opinion a freelancer will always have an edge, because its their train set. With an agency, you’ll most likely be in contact with one of the agency’s employees rather than the business owner. And whilst every employee should take pride in the work they do and service they offer, for me, when its your own business you just care that little bit extra.
If a freelancer doesn’t provide a great service, they probably won’t win anymore clients and then that’s their income gone, so for me a freelancer always has that little extra incentive to provide an amazing service.
Freelancer vs Agency: So what are my options if I don’t want to use either?
So if you’ve read this far, and somehow decided you don’t want to go with a freelancer or an agency, what are your options? There is probably two other options you can consider:
- An in-house web designer.
- Build the website yourself.
Why choose an in-house web designer?
So who would choose to use an in-house web designer? And why would someone choose to use one? Well the answer to first questions is that an in-house web designer is only really suitable for a very large business who can afford the ongoing wage for a permanent web developer, but usually it would be a team of permanent web developers rather than just one, as if that employee left, there would be nobody who knew how the website was built or coded. And then you have to ask, if it is a team your after, why not go with an agency? Well one potential is confidentiality. Maybe you want to keep everything in house for security. Or it might just be, that you want to enable your web developers to work amazingly in sync with your marketing team.
But you get the gist of it, in-house web designers will not be feasible or recommended for most businesses.
Why choose to build your own website?
So why would you choose to build your own website? You may choose to build your own website if you are just after a small brochure site and may have a decent level of technical knowledge or just can’t justify the expense of having someone design it for you. There’s no issue with building your own website. But let me warn you, it can be difficult. Because even as an experienced web designer myself, I sometimes try to do something which I get stuck at. But if it is something you do decide to do, then why not make the most of an amazing offer we can give you to get 20% off all Elegant Themes subscriptions who provide the amazing Divi theme that we used to build our website.
Freelancer vs Agency: Who should you choose?
So in my biased opinion, freelancers are always the best. But you should take a look at all the points made above and make the best decision for you and your business. If you’re a small business, I’m pretty sure you will probably choose a freelancer as they provide great value for money as well as a fantastic personal service. If you’re a bigger business you may consider an agency but a freelancer can be great too.