All small businesses need a website; the question is how to design one. You could do it yourself, but if you have no experience, it will probably end up looking homemade — which is not a look you want for your brand. This leaves two options: hire a professional to work on your team or outsource web design.
In-House vs Outsourced Web Design
Whereas it could be valuable to have a web designer on your team, most companies find that hiring someone just for this task is unnecessary. In fact, it’s not just small businesses that outsource web design. Even some of the largest corporations often feel it’s not worthwhile to keep a designer on staff permanently.
If you’re still unsure that outsourcing web design would be the right choice for you, compare the pros and cons of either option.
Pros of In-House Web Design
The main benefit of having an in-house web designer is that you’ll have a professional available at all times to resolve problems. Whenever you want to add a new feature to your site or make an improvement, your web designer can implement the change immediately.
Cons of In-House Web Design
How often will you really need web design services? After the initial setup, web design is far from a full-time job at a small or even midsize company. It’s expensive to keep a professional on your payroll just in case you need services — after all, it’s likely you could use those funds for far more important things.
Pros of Outsourcing
When you outsource web design, it will be like you have a designer on your team, but you’ll only pay when you need the services. Just contact the web designer whenever you want to make changes.
Cons of Outsourcing
Every small business owner has heard stories of terrible experiences when outsourcing web design. This may make you think twice about outsourcing such services yourself.
It’s true that a lot can go wrong. Misunderstandings can result in the need to redo work or mean the project takes far longer to complete than you imagined. You may also incur unexpected expenses, you could find errors in the design after you launch the website, or the designer could even disappear before finishing the project.
Despite these potential risks, the vast majority of companies find that outsourcing is the better option. By taking appropriate steps to prevent problems, outsourced web design is cheaper and faster and provides you with a professional website.
How Much Does It Cost to Outsource Web Design Work?
A search for outsourced web design work will present you with a wide range of costs. You can find designers who are willing to work for almost nothing all the way up to teams of professionals with years of experience who may charge up to $100,000.
To an extent, the price you’ll pay depends on the complexity of your project. For instance, number of pages, functionality, and additional features all contribute to cost.
However, there’s also a major difference in quality. If you pay only a few hundred dollars, the likelihood is you’ll receive a poor-quality site. Small businesses should expect to pay between $1,000 and $10,000 for a simple website. This gives you responsive design and great usability, showing your prospects that your business is a top option.
Agency vs Freelance Web Designer
One of the first things you need to decide is if you’d prefer to work with an agency or a freelancer. This will depend on factors like your budget, the requirements for your project, and your working style.
Working with a freelancer can be less expensive than an agency, but that’s not always the case. Top freelancers often charge a similar rate to agencies. They may also charge by the hour, whereas it’s more common for an agency to charge per project, which makes it more difficult to compare costs.
To figure out the actual cost of your web design, you’ll need to ask the freelancer how many hours the project is likely to take. To avoid exceeding this amount, the freelancer will need clear instructions from the beginning. This will prevent the need for revisions.
In addition, no matter if you’re working with an agency or a freelancer, it’s important to be clear what the price includes. A freelance web designer may expect you to pay for some software and tools, whereas this will likely be included in the rate from an agency.
More complicated projects may involve knowledge of various aspects of web design. In this case, an agency could be the better choice, as you’ll be able to work with a team of professional web designers with different areas of expertise.
Of course, you could outsource multiple freelancers for different parts of the project, but it could be challenging to manage such a team. In fact, if you do this, you may also need to outsource a project manager to coordinate the team.
However, if your project is simple — for instance, you’re redesigning the website to include a particular functionality — you can find a freelancer with the specific skills you need. Similarly, if you only need a few small edits, it may not be worth outsourcing an entire team from an agency.
You may prefer to be highly involved in the design process, especially if you have a clear idea of exactly what you want. In this case, you may like to collaborate closely with a freelancer.
On the flip side, you may be too busy with other aspects of running your business to worry about web design. If you’d prefer to hand your project over to the professionals and let them handle it, an agency could be the better option.
Of course, you want to complete the project as soon as possible. Nonetheless, it’s more important to think about what you actually need. If you have a large web design project that you need to finish urgently, you’ll benefit from an agency. The agency can put multiple people to work on your web design and can meet pretty much any deadline you have.
The same is not necessarily true for quick jobs. It may be faster to hire a freelancer, provided you choose someone who is available to start working immediately and can deliver the work in a matter of days. In contrast, the bureaucracy at an agency may mean that simple projects take longer, as each stage may need to go through a review with the next person up the chain of command.
How to Outsource Web Design Work Successfully
Finally, you need to choose the best web designer for your needs and then handle the project the right way. This involves searching for potential options, assessing the designers’ skills, and figuring out all the small details to ensure the project runs smoothly.
1. Know Where to Look for Web Designers
Where you look for web designers to outsource will depend on if you want a freelancer or an agency.
One of the best places to find independent web designers is on freelancer platforms. This allows you to search for the specific skills you need, filter by rate, and then compare various web designers. Another option is job sites. Although searching through job sites can be more time consuming, you’ll have more freedom in the interview process.
You can find agencies based all around the world through a Google search — although you may be overwhelmed by the sheer number of results. Narrow down the possibilities to just those who have experience in your industry and have completed similar projects to your own.
Alternatively, you could ask other business owners for their recommendations.
2. Ask to See Designers’ Portfolios
Always check out web designers’ work before committing to a project. Navigate live websites looking for problems with functionality and broken links.
3. Read Reviews
You can find reviews for both freelancers and web design agencies. Note, though, that if you ask freelancers for references, they will only send you the best ones! You can gain a better idea of past clients’ satisfaction by reading reviews on a freelancer’s profile when you hire through a freelancer platform.
4. Talk About Your Needs
Discuss your project in depth to check that the web designer is capable of carrying out the work. Talk about the problems you are facing and how the web designer will solve them. Ask specific questions, such as what programming languages the web designer knows and what web design tools you’ll be using.
5. Discuss Workflows
Decide how you will work with the web designer. Agencies usually have their workflows figured out, whereas a freelancer will be more open to following your lead. Talk about how you will stay in touch and what milestones you’ll set for the project.
6. Start with a Test Project
Building a website from scratch, or even a full redesign, is a huge amount of work. Handing over such a significant project to a freelancer you’ve just met or an agency you’ve never worked with before is a big risk. In these cases, it’s better to begin with just a small portion of the project. You can assess the results and then decide if you want to continue working for the same web designer or if you’d prefer to find someone else.
Most businesses, whether small, medium, or large, find it makes more sense to outsource web design. An in-house designer is too expensive to be worthwhile, as the amount of work you’ll have after you’ve built your website will be minimal.
The challenge is to find the right web designer. First, you need to decide if you want to work with an agency or a freelancer. Next, you need to research potential candidates, narrowing down your shortlist to a web designer who feels right for you. If the test project goes well, you may be able to develop a long-term relationship with the designer. Then you’ll have someone to turn to for all your web design needs in the future.