Working with a UX Design Agency VS. an In-House Design Team in 2020

A few practical tips when you need to decide between hiring a UI/UX design agency or building a design team in-house.

UX Design Agency VS. an In-House Design Team
Photo by Jud Mackrill on Unsplash

When designing a software product or building a website and you are not in a design studio, you might be faced with a choice between trusting a UX agency to develop it for you, go at it yourself with no UX experience, or hiring a UX/UI designer to join your in-house design team.

Pros And Cons Of Hiring a UX Agency

Pros. The first positive aspect of hiring a UX agency to work on your project is that it permits more cost control. If you hire a UX designer for your staff, and they are there to handle a current project. Still, you are not sure if another project will come after, the designing specialist will be getting a salary and sitting without having any work to do. When you select a UX agency for the job, both sides agree to terms in an SOW (statement of work) and must stick to the terms outlined in this contract. This way, you are part of negotiating the cost of the project and laying out its specs, which allows you to have built-in cost into the job rather than investing in a seldom-used team member.

The staff of a UX agency has a lot of collective experience as they are always working on a great variety of different projects. Unlike hiring one in-house designer and relying on their skills alone, the agency has multiple members with a lot of collective experience. These team members can offer each other strategic advice, something that you would likely never get from hiring a freelance designer. Top UX design firms work with clients from a variety of different niches and deliver top-quality design results thanks to a widely experienced team of design experts with dozens of years of experience between them, an impossible task of one in-house designer.

UX agencies are well versed in working to meet specific deadlines, which means they have a system in place that can produce great results on time. A newly hired in house designer would need some time to learn the ropes of the company and will get to work in a step-by-step manner. This will allow you to get excellent UX design services without needing to retain a skilled designer whose talents would be wasted once there is a lack of work.

Cons. When considering a UX company, it is essential to look out for those who are in it more for the money than for the quality of the service. Many UX design companies may promise timely and complete work delivery. Still, they might not have the means to achieve it either in the agreed timeframe or merely due to the competence experience of the staff. This puts the burden on you to seek out reputable and reliable UX designers who can and will perform the job adequately. This search can be timely as you would need to vet at least a dozen companies before selecting your choice.

When searching for a UX agency, it is crucial to select those with a data-driven design process, a solid design portfolio, and those that have a team of experienced designers and long-term UX practitioners.

Hiring this type of agency tends to be costly. You are paying for experience and reliability, and clearly, not everyone can deliver on these expectations, and the price tag reflects that. This can end up being prohibitive for many companies, as the costs may be far outside of their UX design budget.

Bottom Line: UI/UX design agency

Hiring a UX design agency allows for projects to be completed by a team of experts who are ready for any situation thrown their way in a timely and quality manner. Comparatively speaking, the costs of working with an agency are lower than those of hiring an in house designer as the SOW parameterized the scope of the projects, allowing you to control how much the project may cost your company. However, the research into a worthwhile UX designer company can take time, since not every agency will be able to deliver the best results that they promise, nor can they be universally relied on to stick within the deadlines.

Pros And Cons Of Hiring An In-House UX Designer

Pros. The key benefit of an in-house UX designer is that they have a better understanding of your company’s client base than any outsourced UX company will. A design company might carry a treasure trove of experience from a design aspect but will never have the innate understanding of understanding your customer base, while an inhouse designer who has been with the company for some time will have a firm grasp on it. The only significant problem here is that one designer would be overwhelmed by a big task that would typically be handled by a team.

Your in-house designer or UX design team will have a finger on the pulse of the current needs of your customers and will, therefore, be better equipped to optimize the final design to tailor to those needs. An agency’s design could be outdated, and if the final product you have delivered does not fit the nature of what you need but has met SOW specs, you will need to hire a UX design company over again to optimize the product.

Having your UX team on hand is excellent, but if you hire an in-house design team and they can churn out a fantastic optimized product, if no other projects follow, your design team will still be collecting salaries with little to do. Of course, that is not to say that there will be nothing for the team to work on. For instance, they can keep assisting in boosting marketing campaigns by creating visual ads or providing optimized landing pages. Whether creative professionals want to spend their jobs engaged in comparatively tedious tasks like this to collect a salary is a whole different story.

Cons. Design tasks can be infrequent, so it is often tough to justify paying a salary to a UX design team while having no projects for them to work on. You will then be faced with a choice of either getting more design work for the team or letting the department go. The latter could be a problem if suddenly you have more design work on your hands.

It is also important to consider the financial aspect of hiring a UI/UX design team or professional. Their work demands a lot of knowledge and a vast set of skills, and if they have years of experience on top of that, their salaries will not come cheap.

Bottom Line: In-House Design Team

Having a UI/UX designer as part of your team is a great way to cater to your customers’ experience. Still, if you cannot guarantee a steady workload, you do not need to hire an entire design department, maybe not even one senior designer needs to be part of your staff. Instead, you could consider putting in the time to find a reputable and well established UX design agency that can help meet the needs of your particular audience.

My name is Nik. I write about UI/UX, Web Design, and Branding. https://uxplanet.org/top-ui-ux-design-agencies-user-experience-firms-8c54697e290