min read

UX agencies vs freelancers

Nick Simpson
March 14, 2023
Airteam team members sitting at a desk working on a development project together.

If you're planning to create or improve your digital product, choosing the right UX design professional is crucial. There are two options: a UX agency or a UX freelancer. Both options have advantages and disadvantages, so it's critical to weigh them against your company's needs and budget.

In this blog post, we'll discuss the pros and cons of working with a UX agency versus a UX freelancer. This way, you can make an informed decision and choose the right professional for your project.

Benefits of UX agencies

For businesses with large, custom, or complex projects, UX agencies are likely the best option. UX agencies give you access to a team of professionals who offer a comprehensive range of services. They provide access to a larger pool of talent, expertise, and experience capable of producing high-quality results. Some of the advantages of working with a UX agency are listed below.

Larger talent pool
With a UX agency, you’re not just working with one individual. Instead, you can access a team of experts, including UX designers, developers, and project managers. This means you have access to a diverse range of skills and capabilities that ensure the best outcome for your project.

Greater expertise and experience
UX agencies are typically made up of qualified and vetted professionals with diverse backgrounds and experiences. They can provide unique perspectives on your project and offer solutions that a single freelancer might not be able to. Additionally, UX agencies have often worked on many projects in the past and can draw on their collective experience to help you create a successful product.

Higher reliability and accountability
When working with a UX agency, you can expect a certain level of reliability and accountability. This is because agencies have processes to ensure that projects are completed on time and to a high standard. Furthermore, agencies typically have more resources, allowing them to devote more time and attention to your project. A good UX agency will be available over the long term, allowing you to foster a partnership that can extend beyond your immediate project and into the life cycle of your product.

Drawbacks of UX agencies

Agencies are generally more expensive than freelancers or individual contractors. Occasionally, they can also have reduced flexibility, and you may find yourself working with multiple people on your project.

Higher cost
One of the main drawbacks of working with a UX agency is that they will usually be more expensive than hiring a single freelancer. This is because agencies have more overhead costs, such as salaries, rent, recruiting, quality assurance procedures, project management, and business administration, which are factored into their pricing.

Reduced flexibility
Working with a UX agency might require adjusting to their workflows. Agencies usually have their processes and ways of doing things, which may not align with your vision or timeline. A good agency, however, will communicate its process, be flexible to your needs, and adapt as needed to ensure it meets your expectations.

Possibility of working with more people
Another potential drawback of working with a UX agency is that you may have to work with multiple people. This can be challenging if you're not used to collaborating with a team and may slow down the decision-making process but can also provide you with access to a broader skillset.

Despite the drawbacks, there are many benefits to working with a UX agency. For businesses with larger or more complex projects, an agency may be the only practical solution. However, for businesses with limited budgets or more straightforward projects, hiring a freelancer may be a better option.

Airteam's designers and developers working in the Sydney office together.

Benefits of freelancers

Freelancers can be a more cost-effective option for businesses with limited resources. They are generally a better choice for small projects because they provide more flexibility in working hours and can usually make more accommodations, such as working on weekends or managing smaller projects over a longer period.

Lower cost
Freelancers are almost always less expensive than UX agencies, making them a good choice for businesses with smaller budgets.

Increased flexibility
Freelancers can be more flexible than agencies, allowing you to work on your terms and timeline.

One-on-one communication and collaboration
When working with a freelancer, you have direct access to their expertise and can collaborate with them one-on-one. This can be beneficial if you prefer working with a single person throughout your project.

Drawbacks of freelancers

The main drawback of freelancers is their limited pool of talent. You may need to spend more time searching for the right freelancer with the skills and experience you require, and you may need to make some sacrifices in terms of expertise which may cost your product in the long run. Additionally, freelancers may lack the reliability and accountability of a larger UX agency, so there can be greater risk involved in working with a freelancer.

Limited pool of talent
Freelancers won’t always have the same level of experience or expertise as a UX agency, and you may have to search for a longer period to find one that is the right fit for your project. UX freelancers are also much less likely to have access to developers or other specialists to provide support or assistance. This could lead to difficulties in solving technical issues or providing additional services.

Lack of expertise and experience
Another major drawback of working with a UX freelancer versus a UX agency is the lack of expertise and experience. A UX freelancer is generally not going to be able to provide the diversity of skills that a UX agency can. This could mean that they're not as proficient as an agency that specialises in the same service.

Inability to scale with your project
A UX freelancer may face limitations in availability and scalability, which can make it challenging for them to handle larger or more complex projects. This is because they may not have the necessary resources for such projects. It may also be difficult to foster long-term relationships with freelancers beyond the scope of your project.

Slower turnaround times
Unlike agencies, individuals or freelancers may not have a team to collaborate with or solve problems. This can lead to slow turnaround times and potentially poorer quality work.

Both UX agencies and freelancers have their benefits and drawbacks. UX agencies offer a comprehensive range of services, access to a larger talent pool, and increased reliability and accountability. However, they come at a higher cost and reduced flexibility. Freelancers are more cost-effective, offer more flexibility, and provide personalised service. Still, they may have a limited pool of talent and lack the reliability and accountability of a larger team. Ultimately, the decision depends on your needs and budget.

A graph showing how freelancers and agencies compare in regards to cost and reliability and experience.

Three tips for hiring a UX agency or freelancer

Whether you are hiring from a UX agency or a freelancer, many of the best practices remain the same.

  1. Provide a clear project description
    Write a clear job description outlining your project's scope, timeline, and budget.
  2. Ask the right questions
    Know going into the hiring process what is important to you and make sure to ask the right questions. Be clear about your expectations to ensure the UX professional has the necessary skills and experience to complete your project successfully.
  3. Review their portfolio
    Evaluate their portfolio and past work to determine if their style and skillset align with your business's goals.

UX agencies vs UX freelancers: which is right for your business?

Ultimately, the decision of whether to work with a UX agency or a freelancer comes down to your specific business needs and budget. Here are a few key takeaways to consider when making your decision:

  • A UX agency may be a better option for businesses with more complex projects or seeking a custom solution.
  • A UX freelancer may be a better option for businesses with smaller budgets or more straightforward projects.
  • A UX agency can provide access to a larger pool of talent, greater expertise and experience, and higher reliability and accountability. Still, it may be more expensive and less flexible than a freelancer.
  • A UX freelancer can offer lower cost, increased flexibility, and one-on-one communication and collaboration but may have a limited talent pool and less reliability and accountability than a UX agency.

Both UX agencies and freelancers have their pros and cons, and the right choice will depend on your specific needs and budget. At Airteam, we understand that every project is unique and work with clients to determine the best solution for their needs. Contact us to chat about what is best for your business and understand how our team of UX professionals can help you achieve your digital product goals.

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