When talking to potential clients, we sometimes hear “I have a friend that does websites…” Okay, maybe we hear it a lot more than just sometimes. It’s common for a small business to go to a close friend for a website design to save themselves time and money. By doing this they avoid having to vet different agencies and compare price points but they do have to trust this person to deliver a high-quality website on time.

It can be quite a challenge to decide between hiring a freelancer or using an agency for your next web or design project. It’s not enough to create a website that will do “for now” and move on- according to Sweor.com, 88% of users searching for a specific type of business call or visit that business within 24 hours. So your website should communicate why your business is the right choice for them quickly and effectively. The user experience should be seamless and build trust with each point of contact- from what they read on the website to how they interact with your brand in person or on social media. Since you’re reading this post, it’s likely you have a website or list of web-based items that need some TLC. Depending on the scale of your project you may be leaning toward hiring a freelancer or searching for an agency. 

What Do Freelancers and Agencies Provide?

A freelancer consists of usually one person who is great at what they do and typically specializes in one or two areas. They may have an hourly rate or flat rate for the projects they take on, depending on the scope of work that will be provided. It should be easy to find a freelance designer to get a few graphics made or a writer to get some blog content written. There are quite a few platforms for freelancers to display their portfolio and reviews from past clients. A few we could list if you’re curious are: Fiverr.com, Upwork.com, or Guru.com. Less often, a freelancer can act as a jack of all trades and takes on all the roles that an agency employs a team for. The roles typically needed for a full web project(from branding to content strategy to web design and development) include a content strategist, copywriter, graphic designer, web developer, and marketing strategist. This is a lot to put on one person, but if you’re looking to make a small website with not too much content, or you’re writing the content yourself, this may be the option for you.

An agency completes a web project by employing and delegating tasks to the team member that specializes in each aspect of the project. Working with an agency provides stability for a project through established processes and accountability to ensure nothing is overlooked. Now that we have a basic understanding of the two, let’s explore how the differences can affect your project and how to make the right decision for your company.

photo of a meeting room with people sitting on the left side of the photo at a table while a woman points to a whiteboard with statistics written on it in the right area of the photo

Timelines

This is an area where agencies get a spot in the ‘Pro’ column. As we mentioned, agencies like 95Visual have teams of people that specialize in their role and project managers ensure that projects come together on time. The agency should discuss their ideal timeline as well as your deadlines in the proposal stage so everyone goes into a project with clearly identified expectations.

Freelancers often have several projects at once or another job that can dictate their availability. For a quick illustration or design this isn’t usually a problem but for a company that requires brand identity before a website design, it may not be ideal for either party.

Does your company have a strong brand identity? If it’s time for a refresh or to begin your branding journey let’s set up a branding call!

Strategy

Content Strategy is a necessity in any web project and reputable agencies take the time to dive deep with you about your goals for the website. Including strategy is just as important as identifying your company values, one will always affect the other and ensure your decisions are moving the business in the right direction. At 95Visual we prioritize content and branding before beginning the website design process because we have found that strategic content and strong branding are the foundation of any good website. The strategy for content, design, and marketing are all considered when the project moves from one team member to another. Each moving part that builds your online presence is important in its own right but must work well with the others for a cohesive experience with your company across all platforms.

Freelancers manage their area of the project and will ask for the items they need, but may not go through strategy for items like photography and content. While there may be freelancers that do content strategy in addition to design or development, this is where costs will increase because it adds more time or another freelancer into the mix.

Budget

This is where that friend who does websites comes back into play! The proposal from an agency may be shocking compared to a freelancer’s estimate. A freelancer sets up their own rates, which are based on the scope of the project and the number of tasks you give them. Since a freelancer does not have overhead their estimate will look much more affordable. However, this could cost more in the long run if you decide you want to add items not originally proposed or you need to hire multiple freelancers to complete the project.

An agency will have overhead to cover like rent, taxes, and insurance. We can almost guarantee that the agency’s proposal will be higher than the freelance estimate because of this. The higher cost comes with benefits though, like a project manager to ensure your project is progressing on schedule and marketing specialists to get the finished project seen by the right people.

Other Considerations

SEO: 

If a website is built but SEO isn’t properly optimized, then the new website will suffer and possibly become de-indexed(this means URLs don’t redirect, among other things). This costs you a lot more in the long run because you’ve already paid for a website but then have to pay someone else to fix a problem that could have been easily avoided. For more info regarding this, check out our blog post on SEO and discuss it with whoever will be writing content for you.

ADA Compliance: 

It’s very important to make sure your website is accessible to everyone as the world depends on the internet more and more. Agencies should be well versed in ADA compliance for web but it never hurts to ask when discussing a potential project. If you are going to work with a freelancer it’s a good idea to discuss this in your initial meeting and ensure your website will be compliant. We have more on ADA compliance for web and its importance in this blog.

So What’s the Best Choice For You?

Every project is going to have different needs and circumstances surrounding it, so deciding on one choice for everyone wouldn’t work. Ultimately it comes down to budget, time available, and the long term goals for a business. If your business is working with a small budget and needs a website to act as a digital business card then choosing a freelancer may work best for you! The same goes for smaller projects like a few designs for social media or marketing materials. While this will require more time managing the project and communicating with the freelancer(s), it can work if you don’t have room to stretch the budget. We recommend getting organized before the project takes off so you’re ready to manage multiple aspects including writing content, gathering photography, and then marketing after it is completed. 

However, if your business has a large team, products to sell, and/or services to feature then it is beneficial to invest the time and money into working with an agency. You will most likely only have to spend a few hours throughout the project meeting with the agency and virtually no time managing the project, especially if your agency of choice offers content strategy and marketing add-ons. 

If you’re ready to get started on your web project, read more about the services 95Visual offers here or book a Discovery Call with us!