Regardless of what kind of project you have — a newborn baby startup company or a grownup product — it’s crucial to find a reliable designer who will deal with UX design for startups or working products. And since then, day and night you are to face the everlasting struggle between the risks of hiring a freelancer or looking for worthy agency-based professionals.
To make your choice a bit easier, we’ve summed up all the things you should know about UI/UX designers for hire.
It’s hardly possible to see the difference between bringing up a baby and creating a product design. As a ‘parent’ (aka customer) in both cases, you want the best. So when it comes to product creation and the question ‘how to hire designers?’, turning to an agency consisting of more than one person already brings a certain level of confidence. If they’ve got a cool and catchy, easy to navigate website and diverse project case studies — that’s what will definitely put you at ease.
UI/UX designers in agencies are generally believed to be more professional and experienced (otherwise they’d be kicked out) and therefore trustworthy. Of course, no one is insured against mistakes whatever they can be. But still, even if someone in the project team fails, it won’t give you much trouble as the backup is on the alert. Apart from that, you’ll get an additional idea stimulator in the face of a project manager — the more heads, the better (a tribute to Jobs and Wozniak).
Client-freelancer relationships require even more credibility and understanding than between you and your best buddy. Why? Because there’s no way distrust can contribute to your project’s wellbeing. Hiring a freelance UI/UX designer is always a gamble. How can you believe one? The same way they believe you (or your cash commitment). As there’s no traditional paper agreement (unlike in agencies) there’s also no guarantee for either of you to be confident in the cooperation.
So if you want to try your fortune and hire a freelance UI/UX designer, make good research on already proven marketplaces to minimize risks of getting a totally useless UI/UX design and tech shortcomings peppered with failed deadlines. Go to Upwork, Toptal, 99Designs, or Dribbble, study ratings, and niches they’ve been through. Find the one whose experience can benefit your project most of all and hire this UI/UX designer.
The question about who’s gonna give you more attention and qualitative feedback is a tricky one.
On the one hand, agencies are considered to be much busier, managing hundreds of projects. But even when they do have a backlog, it is easily shared between numerous teams. You won’t have to queue up, patiently waiting for your turn. On the other hand, if you hire UI/UX designers from an agency, you will certainly get a specified number of hours for communication and scheduled working calls to cover all your needs.
It’s a wrong way to think that freelance designers are less likely to be overloaded with projects. They also work their fingers to the bone all the way up. So if you believe that freelance UI/UX designers are actually ‘free’ and ready for 24/7 communication, you’d better get back down to earth. Besides that, with these buddies, you have no guarantee that you’ll be listened to and heard. Nothing is fixed or sure.
How-many-kidneys-do-I-have-left, or pricing question
If you decide to collaborate with agency-based professionals, get yourself ready for awesome results. And there’s really no need to sell a kidney for that. Yes, freelance UI/UX designers charge less but do they have a reason for asking a higher price? Agencies have more people involved, a higher level of experience and professionalism together with problem-solving skills. So their price is usually understandable and reasonable enough. Anyway, the quality and reliability of the team, aimed at completing the project and leading it till the finish line are the things that are worth paying more money for.
Hiring a freelancer at a price at least twice lower than they’d charge you at an agency is truly appealing. And if you are satisfied with the results, you can call yourself lucky. But the low price — the high-quality duo is a rare one so do not fall for chocolate bar-priced offers. Better buy a bar of chocolate and turn to agency professionals.
Earlier we’ve decided that agency = professionalism. Agency UI/UX designers have immersed in various niches and stumbled upon different bottlenecks at the design and development stages. Tens or even hundreds of projects in portfolio result in a kickass knowledge base. Isn’t it great to find out that your UI/UX designers know what color palette suits best to your targets or how to stand out from the competition? Of course, it is!
Hiring a freelance UI/UX designer you shouldn’t raise your expectations to the clouds. Are you sure that one’s got enough time to manage your project? Or skills to overcome difficulties that occur during early and later design stages? Working with a freelancer, don’t wait for endless skillset and abilities all packed in one ‘universal soldier’. It’s still one head — even if a really smart one.
Mission: survive until the deadline
It’s not about blaming freelancers for failed deadlines. Not at all. It’s just about a good old human factor. Having a crew means having someone on standby in case of an emergency. Be it a super challenging task or the flu that knocked someone down — the work process won’t stop. That’s exactly the reason why agencies always attract at least two people to a project: a project manager is always on guard. They cherish time responsibility too much and never put it at risk.
Being one-to-one with a project (or a couple of them) may be overwhelming. It causes not only failed deadlines but also low-quality work. Simply because without having anyone to ask for advice, a single project obstacle may become a standstill.
Speaking of the workload, for some people freelance is the main occupation, for others, it’s just a side-source of money. Thus, without real passion and dedication, such work is destined to fail. Apart from that, you can lose out if a freelance UI/UX designer decides to switch to a more promising project. It’s hardly possible to imagine such a story with an agency as they value their reputation most of all.
Can you hear me, or working through intermediaries
They say, so many men, so many minds. That’s why in most cases it’s better to have a project manager aka interpreter to convert all ideas (even the craziest ones) into an understandable language for UI/UX designers. An intermediary is familiar with both ‘worlds’ and knows how to make it work for each side.
Head-to-head cooperation might be great in terms of close communication. If you want to convey a thought to be implemented in the design concept share it with your UI/UXer. But are you sure both of you understood each other well? You’ll see it in the end.
You are not alone: support issue
Hiring UI/UX designers from an agency means signing a contract with it. Now you are ensured in a number of things. Let alone deadlines and feedback. The real relief comes when you know that just in case, you’re not on your own with a freshly-baked design. Having a good reliable agency behind your back is enough to sleep tight all night.
Providing post-launch support is not something freelancers usually do. In this case, they usually share the ‘done’ design and just say goodbye. How about making further changes or updates? Well, find another freelance UI/UX designer for that. Or don’t waste both time and money, and invest these precious resources in an agency at the start.
Let’s Sum Up
So… an agency?
Obviously, an agency has won the battle. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you should avoid freelance UI/UX designers. If you are a fan of Russian Roulette, go try your luck. If it doesn’t sound like your story, let us share a couple of crucial points you may find useful when hiring UI/UX designers from an agency.
- Do homework
As soon as you’ve chosen a solid UI/UX design agency, start thinking of a proper presentation. Why? For two reasons. First, while preparing, you’ll have a better understanding of what you want, thus you’ll be able to put it into words to make it clear for the others. Second, it’s just fun to feel like Steve Jobs, presenting your startup to the audience.
- Lead the collab
Yes, you’ve hired a UI/UX designer and now is working with an agency. No, you can’t be a passive actor. You have to keep your finger on the pulse of the entire product design. Express ideas, add comments, schedule calls, and meetings. Be active but try not to overdo.
- Let your hair down
Isn’t it what you’ve dreamed about? You hired a UI/UX designer from an agency. And these guys know their work, they’ll get all project-related things covered. So you should learn to trust them. How? Go through the agency’s case studies, read clients’ reviews, finally, build up a warm friendly communication with the team. Then go home, grab a drink, and relax.
As you know there’s nothing perfect in this world. So trying to pay attention to every little trifle you will just waste precious time that could be used for something really important. The moral is stupidly simply: set priorities from day one. Identify potential must-haves and share them with the team — if you struggle, don’t worry, simply ask the project team to help you define the backlog and prioritize things.
- Know the price of quality
Creating a ‘face’ for your business is the same as putting on makeup — you have to invest to achieve amazing results. That’s why wise girls choose quality beauty products (to care not only about the outer side) at an appropriate price. It works the same way in business — to get a truly working design, it has to be well-thought-out (not just pretty) — both inside and out. Hire UI/UX designer from an agency or not is up to up.
- Do not delay payments
Well, life’s full of unpredictable things, and emergency cases are understandable. But payment delays without solid reasons are a hugely nerve-wracking experience. Why should people wait for the money earned as if it’s a handout? Pay on time, don’t make anyone hate you. Or be ready to get that karma boomerang back in the future.
UI/UX design is crucial for making your business profitable. But in order to earn money, you’ve got to invest first. It’s no use putting chlishes like ‘agency costs a fortune’ or ‘freelancers are just amateurs’. Want a good piece of work? Both time and money are required. It’s not the best time to be a miser. Take your time, be realistic, and get that dreamy UI/UX design born.