Agency or Freelancer: Choosing between London web designers

In a city as creative and forward thinking as London, you are spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing the best web designer. The capital is awash with talented designers and developers who can help turn your digital dreams into reality. Choosing who to entrust to build your website is a tricky decision, and one of the first factors to consider is whether to hire a freelance web designer or choose a London web design agency. Both options have their own merits and potential pitfalls; we delve into the details to help you to make an informed decision.

Understanding your project requirements

The first step to working out whether to choose an agency or freelancer is to clearly outline your project requirements from start to finish. This should cover:

  • The scope and scale of the project, is it a comprehensive multi-faceted website or a smaller, more straightforward site?
  • What financial resources and budget do you have available for this project?
  • Is there a specific timeline you have to stick to?
  • Will you require ongoing support and maintenance once the website is live?

Making a case for Web Design Agencies

One of the major benefits of using a web design agency is the breadth of expertise and experience that their team can bring. This holistic collective, covering web design, development, content creation and SEO can provide your project with a holistic specification that can maximise your chances of your new website covering all angles effectively. Similarly, agencies are often better positioned to offer complete end-to-end services such as post-launch support, marketing and analytics.

If you choose an established web design agency, chances are they will excel in project management in terms of communication and accountability. If your project is more complex or involves multiple different stakeholders, having effective and proactive communication from your agency will help to keep you in the loop with updates. Whilst agencies may turn away very small projects, they do often have the flexible resources to scale up or scale down a project depending on the requirements.

Potential drawbacks of using a London Web Design Agency

This probably won’t come as a surprise, the main drawback to using a London agency will be the cost. ‘London’ and ‘agency’ both usually come with hefty premiums, so combine the two together and you may end up with a quote that just isn’t financially viable. This is because London agencies often have expensive overheads such as rent for a fancy office. In their defence, attracting the best staff requires paying top dollar wages, so a higher price might pay dividends long term with a significantly better website.

You will also sometimes experience less of a personal touch with an agency – you might be assigned a specific project manager but this relationship may be less personalised compared to a freelancer.

What about a freelance web designer?

For many people, they will view freelancers as a way of reducing costs, as many freelancers can operate with lower overheads.

However, viewing freelancers purely as the cheap option could be shooting yourself in the foot.

There are many freelancers excelling in their specific field of expertise. Should your project require an expert with an intimate knowledge of a particular field of web design, chances are you could find a freelancer who will have these exact skills and the relevant experience to deliver exactly what you require. By hiring a freelancer, you often have a direct line of communication with who is building your site, which will help to keep a project on track and the deliverables more in line with expectations.

At the other end of the scale, should your project be far more straightforward, a multiskilled digital freelancer may well be best suited to deliver your project, with a serviceable knowledge of design, content, SEO and marketing.

Potential pitfalls of choosing a Freelance Web Designer

Most freelancers work alone, so you should consider their limited capacity for larger projects, or websites that need to be delivered within a strict time frame. Not only this, but if your project is likely to be complex and require a wide range of specialist skills, one single freelancer may struggle.

Choosing an in-demand specialist freelancer may mean you are at the mercy of their schedule, which may be full for the foreseeable future. Your preferred freelancer may not always have the availability when you need them

Make sure to research the track record and experience of a freelancer before entrusting them with your website build. Look for an active LinkedIn presence and / or ask for examples of previous work they have completed to ensure they can deliver the services they say they are able to.

Making the decision between freelancer or agency

There is no right answer, especially as the decision will rest heavily upon your own needs, circumstances and priorities. Put simply, your decision making process will likely conclude:

Choose the web design agency if:

  • Your project is large, complex or likely to be ongoing
  • You require a wide variety of specialist skills
  • You prioritise reliability and potential scalability

Choose a freelancer if:

  • You require a very specific specialist skill set
  • Your project is well-defined and manageable in size
  • You prioritise a personalised approach and direct communication
  • You prioritise flexibility

Dave Reeder, from Made Simple Media, offers the following useful advice. “Whether you choose a freelancer or an agency, make sure you check out their portfolio of websites that they have created. You would be amazed at some of the incredible sites freelancers can put together, and at the other end of the scale, some of the disasters being churned out by expensive agencies. Finding the middle ground that is just right for your project is the key to success”.

London’s vibrant web design industry offers a wealth of talent, both in the agency and freelancer world. By clearly defining your project requirements and understanding the potential benefits and pitfalls of both freelancers and agencies, you should be in a position to make an informed decision that best suits your requirements. By evaluating the scope, budget and nature of your project, you can determine the best fit for your project and ensure a fruitful collaboration with your chosen London web designer.