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Freelancing vs. Agency for Web Development: Which One is Right for Your Business?

 

Choosing the right individual or agency to help develop a website for your online business can be stress-inducing.

 

Should you opt for a freelancer from Fiverr or Upwork? Or hire an overseas agency that promises better value for the price?

 

There’s a broad spectrum of options to choose from, each with its own unique advantages and disadvantages.

 

The Differences Between Freelancer Vs Agency for Web Development

The Differences Between Freelancer Vs Agency for Web Development

Photo Credit: webmakers.biz

 

If you’ve spent any time researching web development you’ve probably been bombarded with a hulking amount of confusing terms, expressions, and acronyms.

 

Front end. Backend. UI, UX, freelance, offshoring.

 

What do they all mean?

 

Understanding the key differences between a freelancer and a web agency is an important first step in discovering which solution is ultimately best for you and your business.

 

There are a few major differences between hiring a freelancer versus a web development agency.

 

FREELANCER

Advances in technology have made it possible to earn a living outside of the typical 9-5 workday. As such, freelance web developers use their tech-savvy skills to work on an as-need basis, either through sites like Fiverr, Truelancer, and Guru or through networking services such as LinkedIn.

 

Freelancers are typically self-employed meaning they are more flexible to agree or disagree with terms of a contract and can set their own hours, holidays, and deadlines.

 

Developers who work as freelancers may or may not have a formal education in web design. However, as with most self-employed professions, freelancers rely on their portfolios to showcase their design strengths.

 

Freelancers can be full-stack web designers and are often specialized in multiple coding languages; meaning they are capable of performing work that otherwise might require hiring multiple personnel for.

 

WEB DEVELOPMENT AGENCY

As the name implies, a web agency differs from a freelancer in that they utilize a significant amount of experts to develop a website.

 

A development agency is a team of professionals, each with a specialization in a certain area. They are responsible for developing the website from the ground up, which can include: information gathering, planning, design, coding, launching, and maintenance.

 

The size of the agency and amount of employed developers can vary from agency to agency, but in short, an agency puts in place more talent and offers a vast array of perspectives that helps a website vision become a reality.

 

Because agencies employ a team of designers, they typically function in a regimented structure that involves managers, dedicated front and backend developers, as well as UX and UI designers. Unlike working with a freelancer, this means you’ll have more points of contact and may work with different developers at various stages in the process.

 

But which one is right for you and your business? There are clear advantages and disadvantages to each.

 

The Pros and Cons of Hiring Freelancer and Web Development Agency

 

Freelancer Pros

Price: The fact that freelancers are available for hire in nearly every corner of the globe makes shopping around for the right fit a digital walk in the park. As the majority of web development can be performed completely remotely, you are not limited to hiring talent in any specific location. This effectively turns the entire world into a tech marketplace, meaning you can negotiate prices and walk away from developers who fail to meet your needs.

 

Involvement: Freelancers are ideal if you are more comfortable working one-on-one rather than with a team. Fewer points of contact mean that you will likely be more involved in the process, which is a boon to clients who value participation.

 

Freelancer Cons

Reliability: Opting to hire a freelancer is a risk. It doesn’t take much effort to find horror stories detailing incomplete, unprofessional work from freelancers who promised clients the world. Furthermore, freelancers are almost always self-employed, meaning they have more independence to set their own hours and deadlines. Depending on the individual, this can be a perk or a deterrent.

 

Possible Communication Barriers: Chances are you’ll run into communication issues when hiring freelance. Make certain that you can clearly communicate in your native language, and be aware of possible time differences if hiring overseas.

 

Testing and Maintenance: Finalizing and launching your website is merely the tip of the iceberg in terms of long term dedications. Each time a website is updated or features are added the changes will need to be tested and may require additional maintenance.

 

Hiring a freelancer puts you at a disadvantage as their services typically don’t include additional maintenance and upkeep. As a result, there’s a fair chance that you’ll have to repay the same freelancer, or hire another to provide proper maintenance and upkeep after your website’s initial launch.

 

Web Development Pros

Professional Results: Because a web development agency employs a large team of developers who specialize in specific areas, you can expect more professional all-around results than hiring freelance. Simply put, you have more people working for you.

 

As a result of sheer numbers, issues and problems will be solved more quickly and effectively than if opting for a freelancer.

 

Experience: A group of developers will be more experienced than a freelancer, and experience is crucial to creating a profit-driven web presence.

 

After all, anybody can spend a few hundred dollars and create a mundane website from a website building service.

 

But when it comes to creating a website (or any service for that matter), you’re paying for experience.

 

This can’t be stressed enough.

 

2021 Beginner's Guide to Offshoring

 

Opportunity to Outsource: Outsourcing talent from a web agency comes with less risk than outsourcing or hiring an offshore freelancer because there are more points of contact to hold accountable.

 

Otherwise put, a larger organization is more reliable.

 

Do your homework before making dedications, but be aware your money and investments can go much further when hiring offshore versus domestically.

 

Web Development Cons

Costly: A web development agency will cost more than hiring a freelancer. There are significant reasons for this, but at the end of the day, you’re paying for a team rather than an individual.

 

Which One is Right for You?

Choosing between a freelancer or a web development agency depends on countless factors and considerations. While each client and business will require elements specific to their cause, there are a few aspects to contemplate prior to making the big decision.

 

Budget

Of course, the amount of on-hand capital will greatly influence whether you hire a freelancer or development agency. Odds are those on a smaller budget will opt for freelance work, and businesses with cash to spare might go the professional route.

 

But don’t be afraid to invest in your online presence.

 

To say the world of e-commerce is profitable is a vast understatement. Even more, the pandemic has led to an online gold rush so to speak, and investing in a well-made and professionally designed website will only help your business’s chance of success in the increasingly competitive market.

 

Scope

If you’re building a small website for personal reasons, to showcase your hobby or interests, or if you’re new to e-commerce and simply want a basic website for quick name recognition, hiring a freelancer is the obvious choice. In fact, it’s perfectly within reason that you could build a rudimentary website completely by yourself, and skip hiring anyone.

 

However, anything past a basic web design might require professional help.

 

Building and maintaining a web presence is akin to buying and performing maintenance on a house or condo. Hiring professionally from the start is a good way to guarantee the job is done correctly the first time.

 

Businesses who hope to expand on their already-established online presence should take this into consideration. More robust businesses might require additional elements in their designs, such as shopping carts, chatbots, and accessibility features. Added features result in more opportunities for technical issues to arise. Hiring an agency under these conditions is advised given the time and technical restraints associated with freelancers.

 

Timeline

It’s very difficult to gauge how much time building a website takes. If you’re hoping for an efficient and quick turnout, then it’s best to avoid a freelancer.

 

Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for freelance work to result in extended timelines and missed deadlines. It makes sense, as developing a website is a lot of work.

 

There are also external factors that could affect the timeline of one individual performing the entire scope of work (illnesses, family emergencies, etc.)

 

Hiring the help of an agency will reduce such woes. An agency with multiple employees will be more likely to abide by deadlines and honor timelines.

 

The Verdict

Choosing a freelancer or an agency for your project is ultimately up to you.

 

Given we are living in a day and age where a professional, attractive, and well-maintained online presence is nearly a prerequisite to churning profits, it’s recommended to skip the risk of hiring freelance and going with a well-established domestic or outsourced agency.

 

Doing so will be sure to save you time, money, and headaches.

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