It is widely acknowledged that UX design holds tremendous importance. Extensive research has validated the measurable return on investment (ROI) of UX, and leading organizations in the industry prioritize user experience. For example, according to McKinsey, companies prioritizing design have a 32% higher revenue growth and a 56% higher total return to shareholders than their competitors. Another research by Forrester revealed that UX design ROI is $100 for every invested $1. Design unicorns (businesses that invest more in UX) usually see a significant 75% sales increase. The UX/UI design of your product can significantly impact its success and usability.
The main question that often arises is how to assemble the necessary talent to effectively implement UX design in your own business and maximize its impact. It boils down to the age-old dilemma: should you build an in-house team or rely on external expertise? In the context of UX design, the question becomes whether you should hire a dedicated UX designer or collaborate with a specialized UX agency?
This article aims to provide insights into the decision-making process by analyzing the advantages and disadvantages associated with both options. By carefully weighing the pros and cons, you can make an informed choice that aligns with your business goals and requirements.
Partnering with a UX/UI design outsourcing company
What is a UX/UI design outsourcing company?
We would like to immediately answer the first question that arises: what is a UX/UI design outsourcing company or agency? A UX/UI design company is a specialized agency that focuses on creating exceptional user experiences and intuitive interfaces for digital products. With a deep understanding of both the user’s needs and business objectives, these firms employ a range of techniques and methodologies to design and optimize the user experience.
They collaborate closely with clients to understand their target audience, their goals, and the unique challenges they face. This allows them to craft user-centered designs that enhance the usability, accessibility, and overall satisfaction of the product.
By partnering with a UX/UI design agency, businesses can benefit from expertise and experience that may not be available in-house. These firms stay up to date with the latest industry trends and best practices, ensuring that the designs they create are modern, innovative, and aligned with user expectations.
With a general understanding of how a UX/UI agency operates, we can now proceed to consider the advantages and disadvantages of collaboration. This will help you make an informed decision for your business.
The benefits of working with a UX/UI agency
- Reliable partner. Agencies don’t just vanish into thin air. Even if you need someone to take over a project a year later, you can still count on finding them because they haven’t just up and left to go on some grand adventure. It’s much easier to approach them for any necessary revisions on past assignments, as they anticipate that this could potentially lead to new and exciting endeavors.
- Accustomed to meeting tight deadlines. Agencies are well-versed in navigating through strict deadlines. Whenever there is a need for accelerated progress, they are able to assemble a larger team to tackle the workload. In the event of unforeseen circumstances, such as a team member falling ill, they have contingency plans to provide a replacement. They understand that meeting your deadlines is crucial to your success, and therefore make it their top priority. In some instances, clients and product teams may have ambitious deadlines based on aspirations rather than realistic information. UX/UI agencies have the experience and knowledge to address such situations and guide you towards setting a tight, yet achievable timeline.
- Execution of international projects. Agencies possess the expertise to manage projects that transcend borders. It is commonplace for them to have team members who are proficient in multiple languages, and they also collaborate with partner agencies to conduct in-depth local research. This diligent approach ensures a comprehensive grasp of user needs and cultural nuances, crucial for successful project outcomes. Additionally, agencies have the flexibility to dispatch their skilled teammates to different countries for research initiatives and workshops, guaranteeing an optimal level of engagement and understanding. With their extensive network and global reach, agencies are well-equipped to navigate the complexities of international projects with ease and finesse.
- Skilled team. Expert UX/UI design companies hire highly experienced designers with impressive portfolios and other professionals to ensure their clients' satisfaction. They create opportunities for younger designers to further their professional development and learn from experienced team members, resulting in consistently excellent work from the company. These companies boast strong teams not only designers but developers, software engineers, project manager and more. Having access to such resources allows them to be a one-stop shop for your project, catering to all your needs.
- Enhanced time to value. One of the key benefits of working with agencies is their ability to expedite the project timeline and deliver results promptly. Unlike in-house hires who may require a significant amount of time to get on boarded, agency design teams operate with streamlined and efficient processes. This enables them to quickly ramp up and start delivering within a shorter period, typically within two to three weeks. Agencies are often able to complete projects at a faster pace. For example, our UX team at Solar Digital has successfully designed complex Coursic applications in under three months, a task that would typically take an in-house designer twice as long. UX/UI agencies excel in swiftly propelling your project to a stage where your investment begins to generate value. Their ability to expedite the process ensures that you can start reaping the rewards of your project sooner.
- The cost-saving advantage. Your project can be priced affordably. To illustrate this, let’s －perform a quick calculation. A senior designer has a daily rate of 100 $, while a junior designer’s rate is 50 $. Considering that your project spans 50 days, employing only a senior designer would cost 5000 $. Opting only for a junior UX designer at 2500 $ is not ideal, as it may compromise the level of quality you desire. However, here’s where the good news comes in: on an average project, a minimum of 50% of the tasks can be effectively handled by a talented junior designer. By having a team consisting of 50% senior and 50% junior designers, you can significantly reduce costs. Through proper resource allocation, you have successfully saved your investment.
- Scalability. The UX/UI team has the ability to expand and adapt according to the size and complexity of your project. This means that they can provide you with the right expertise and resources at every stage, ensuring that your project is handled with the utmost professionalism and efficiency. Whether you have a small-scale project or a larger, more complex one, the team is well-equipped to meet your needs and deliver high-quality results.
- Managing tough situations. In every project, there are moments that require specific soft skills to navigate successfully. While your freelancer or internal team members may excel in their respective roles, they may not possess the diplomacy and tact needed to handle difficult situations seamlessly. This is where working with an agency can be advantageous. Agencies are accustomed to dealing with demanding clients, so they have developed effective methods and strategies to manage such scenarios. By collaborating with an agency, you can have peace of mind knowing that they have the expertise and experience to handle any tough situation that may arise during the project.
- Better cost control. There is no need to spend a fortune on costly tools. When working with agencies, they often have specialized equipment, such as various testing devices, conference rooms with whiteboard surfaces, and eye tracking equipment. However, if you opt to work with freelancers or have an in-house team, you may find yourself needing to invest in these tools, even if you only use them on rare occasions.
- Diverse and innovative concepts. UX/UI agencies are a hub of creative individuals who flourish through collaboration, and development opportunities provided by the company. They possess a deep understanding of contemporary trends and styles, enabling them to craft distinctive and user-friendly concepts. Though internal team members may also exhibit creativity and offer valuable insights, it’s possible to fall into a pattern of stagnation and rely on repetitive templates. By engaging with UX/UI companies, you tap into a wealth of fresh ideas that push boundaries and inject novelty into your projects.
Challenges of partnering with a UX/UI agency
- Communication with a third party. Working with a third party can present communication challenges. When engaging an external service provider, there is always a possibility of misunderstandings. Even if the hiring process goes smoothly, you may end up collaborating with various individuals once the project kicks off. This can make it challenging to assess the team’s communication effectiveness until you actually start working together. To ensure a seamless partnership, it is advisable to establish clear communication channels from the outset and schedule regular check-ins. This proactive approach will help mitigate the risk of miscommunication and maintain a smooth workflow throughout the project.
- Reduced control over workflow. When engaging a service provider, companies naturally have less control compared to an internal team. A UX/UI design company, for instance, must juggle multiple projects and timelines alongside yours. This lack of control can pose challenges when unexpected issues arise during the project, deadlines shift, or priorities change. For example, if you wish to incorporate additional design features later on, it may prove difficult to include them within the established scope of work. To address these concerns, it is crucial to communicate your timeline requirements early on in the project. Establishing clear milestones that the service provider needs to meet can help keep everyone aligned and ensure a smooth workflow.
Hiring an in-house UX Designer
What is an In-House UX Designer?
An in-house UX designer is a person who works directly for a company. They are responsible for creating and improving the user experience (UX).
The main role of an in-house UX designer is to understand the needs and preferences of the target audience and translate them into intuitive and visually appealing designs. They conduct user research, such as interviews and usability testing, to gain insights into user behavior and preferences. Based on the findings, create wire frames, prototypes, and interactive designs to visualize and iterate on the user interface. They also consider factors such as usability, accessibility, and interaction design principles to create a seamless and engaging user experience.
An in-house UX designer may also collaborate with developers to implement the designs and provide guidance during the development process.
The benefits of working with in-house UX Designer
- In-depth familiarity with company culture and objectives. Internal specialist has a deep understanding of your company’s culture, values, and long-term goals. This profound knowledge allows them to create designs that reflect your brand identity.
- Seamless communication and collaboration. Internal teams benefit from effortless communication and collaboration with other departments, such as marketing and development. This smooth interaction enables quick feedback loops and ensures efficient project management.
- Enhanced flexibility and adaptability. An in-house UX designer can easily adapt to changes in your company’s needs and priorities. They can quickly align their strategies and designs accordingly, providing you with greater flexibility in meeting evolving market demands.
- Opportunities for skill development and growth. Creating an internal team allows you to invest in the professional development of your employees. They can gain new skills, knowledge, and experience, leading to personal growth and greater expertise within your organization.
Challenges of hiring in-house UX Designer
- Limitations in skill variety. In-house designers often find themselves lacking the wide array of skills and perspectives offered by external agencies. This deficiency can potentially impede their ability to successfully navigate unique design challenges and come up with innovative solutions.
- Recruitment and training hurdles. The process of attracting and retaining highly skilled UX professionals can be a fiercely competitive and arduous endeavor. Moreover, ensuring that the team stays updated with the latest design trends and technologies requires continuous training and knowledge enhancement.
- Difficulties in managing workload surges. In-house teams may face significant challenges when confronted with sudden spikes in workload. This can lead to project delays or compromises in the overall quality of the design output.
- Lack of cross-industry experience. In-house UX specialists often specialize in a particular industry, which can result in a myopic understanding of design problems and solutions. By contrast, agencies typically work with clients across various industries, enabling them to bring a wider breadth of experience and insights to the table.
Factors to take into account when making a decision
We hope this article will assist you in understanding the information, but there are additional factors that should be taken into account before making a final decision.
- Understanding your company’s specific needs and goals. Analyze the unique requirements of your projects, their scope, and your long-term design objectives to determine which choice best aligns with your goals.
- Budget considerations and cost evaluation. Conduct a comprehensive cost assessment, considering both immediate and long-term expenses, to determine which option is more financially viable for your organization.
- Project scope and timeline. Take into consideration the size and urgency of your projects. Agencies may be more suitable for time-sensitive assignments, while in-house teams can offer ongoing support for sustained initiatives.
- The significance of UX Design in your industry. Research the importance of UX design within your specific industry. Certain sectors may necessitate specialized expertise that agencies are better equipped to provide.
- Potential for creativity and innovation. Evaluate the potential for creative freedom and innovation with each option. In-house teams may have a better understanding of your brand identity, allowing for unique and tailored designs.
- Control and oversight. Consider the level of control and oversight you desire over the design process. In-house teams offer direct supervision and greater involvement, whereas agencies may provide a fresh perspective and external expertise.
- Scalability and flexibility. Assess the scalability and flexibility required for your projects. Agencies can offer a broader range of resources and expertise, while in-house teams can be more adaptable to changing demands and priorities.
The decision between partnering with the UX/UI outsourcing company or establishing an in-house UX designer should be based on a thorough assessment of your specific needs, goals, budget, timelines, industry requirements, and the potential for creativity and control. It’s essential to weigh the pros and cons of each option to make an informed choice that will best serve your organization’s design needs.
Our company, Solar Digital, boasts an extensive and thriving experience in UX/UI design projects. Our portfolio stands as a testament to our expertise, showcasing the diverse range of successful projects we have undertaken. Projects such as Sustayn branding, Coursic, Dwells and many others can show an example of our work. With a unique approach to design, we consistently strive for innovative and user-centric solutions that leave a lasting impression. Our dedication to creating seamless and engaging user experiences sets us apart from the competition.