Design Agency vs In-House Designer: How to Make the Right Choice

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Hiring new employees is always a challenging and nerve-racking process, especially when you can’t wait to get the work started but to launch the process you have to make a choice between a remote design agency and an in-house designer.

Opting for an agency opens up many opportunities for you as an employer. For example, you don’t have to worry about all that recruitment stuff and don’t have to spend time educating the designer for the needed skill set. At the same time having a designer working in the company’s staff allows you to grow a specialist that will have a deep understanding of your business and company culture. 

Seems like deciding what cooperation model to choose is indeed a difficult task. To help you make your final decision, in this article, we will discuss the pros and cons of design agency and in-house staff and give you some pieces of advice on how to choose who is better to hire in your particular case.

Let’s start our discussion with an in-house specialist. 

In-house designer

Image credit: breadnbeyond.medium.com

Probably the first thing that comes to mind when you need a designer is to hire a specialist in-house. That is an employee that will be a part of your team and work with you in your company office. And of course, this option has a lot of advantages.

Pros

  • Employees are fully involved in the work process. The staff member works full time to improve the project, and their working time is completely devoted to performing direct design duties.
  • An in-house worker is competent in the company’s work area, they can analyze market changes, conduct experiments to achieve high performance. A high level of awareness leads to a more effective promotion strategy than a freelancer or an agency.
  • Such a model of collaboration presupposes ease of control and effective communication. In case the designer works in staff, you can address him with any kind of questions anytime you like. As well, employee motivation minimizes the risks of fraud.
  • Efficiency in communication allows you to quickly complete tasks. The presence of an experienced employee on the staff helps to quickly resolve any issue within his competence.

But of course, hiring an in-house designer is not an all-in-one solution. It also has some drawbacks.

Cons

  • Difficulty finding and attracting specialists. A problem is that the employer cannot objectively assess the qualifications of the applicant. It is even more difficult to recruit a full staff of employees needed to design a product. Finding, recruiting, and then retaining workers is a resource-consuming process.
  • Costly. The cost of the services of a specialist involved in the staff cannot be lower than the market average. As well, it is you who is responsible for providing your staff with sick leaves, vacation leaves, and other perks. 
  • Difficulties in terms of scaling. growing your team with the In-house system requires the involvement of new specialists in the staff and that’s how we get back to the cons number one “difficulties finding and attracting new specialists”.
  • Retaining employees. In the case of hiring an employee, there is a risk of professional burnout and the person may just quit, or even worth, go to work for competitors. In addition, employees rarely evaluate a project from outside in search of fresh solutions for business development.

Now that we see different sides of hiring in-house let’s move on to understand what it means to work with a design agency.

Design agencies

Image credit: supremely.sg

Design agencies provide you with a wide range of design expertise, but remotely (they don’t work as a part of your company stuff). So, the same as hiring an internal team, working with companies that provide outsourced design services can have both pros and cons.

Pros

  • Agencies ensure well-coordinated work. You don’t have to worry about managing the employees from an agency, they ensure meeting the agreed deadlines and fulfilling the terms of the agreement.  
  • Greater experience. Designers from design agencies usually have an opportunity to work on various types of projects, that’s why they have experience in different industries and solving different design problems.
  • Choosing a contractor is easier than finding a free employee. You can focus on industry ratings, reviews, portfolios, and more and don’t have to spend time and money on recruitment.
  • The whole range of necessary services will be provided to you. When hiring a design agency there is no need to attract and pay additional personnel to implement the project.

Cons

  • A superficial understanding of company values. External workers usually don’t have a deep involvement in the company’s long-term goals and objectives. They just stick to the agreed requirements (but of course there are always exceptions).
  • Communication difficulties. Some companies do not welcome direct communication between the customer and the contractor but have a manager as an intermediate which leads to communication difficulties.
  • You can’t “grow” your specialist. Usually, you hire a designer for a specific time period that’s why there is no opportunity to teach them the way you like it.

Making the final decision

Now when you know both the advantages and disadvantages of hiring in-house and opting for a design agency it will be easier to understand how to choose between these two opportunities.

First of all, when choosing between the types of cooperation reviewed, you should decide based on your goals and budget:

  • If you have a great scope of work for a designer, you know that your company is quickly scaling and you need constant help with the design for a long period, if you understand the importance of a design for your business growth and can guarantee that your new team member will be involved full-time than definitely choose an in-house specialist.
  • If you have some designers but they are not skilled enough or can’t cope with the current workload, if you need some specific design expertise or you have strict deadlines for some big project then your choice should be to hire a design agency.

Finally, we want to tell you once again, when choosing the most suitable type of cooperation with designers start with analyzing your budget, your needs, requirements, and goals, and of course the type of project you work on.

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