Have you ever wondered why some apps catch your attention at first sight while you instantly ignore their counterparts? Or, maybe, you have noticed that strikingly similar marketplaces can have a different level of popularity. Certainly, such digital representations of businesses online serve as hooks for potential clients while others, no less easy to use or creative, lack likes and conversion. That’s right: VISUALS ARE VITAL! No wonder: the first impression of your enterprise is made based on your web design in 94 cases out of 100. It’s 2021 - it no longer matters if you are a restaurant owner, an advertising agency manager or a tailor: if your website/app is not up-to-date, attractive and user-friendly, you are not trending.
So, that’s STEP 1: You realize that you need a good GREAT digital product to gain customers’ attention.
STEP 2: You start weighing your options for creating or updating your platform ranging from “what the hell - I’ll try this free designing app and fashion something myself” or “I remember Noah has Photoshop on his laptop. Maybe, he can still do me favour” to “Let’s hire someone on that network you saw”. Indeed, you can go all lengths if your start-up has just been launched, you have a limited budget or you simply don’t get it why designing an app can cost thousands of dollars. We’ve seen such cases. And we’ve helped to solve the problem once the damage is done by such dead-end decisions.
So, STEP 3: you decide to hire an expert. And that’s where you start right: only a professional designer (or the whole team of multi-area experts) can juggle visual elements and development opportunities, analytical skills and marketing approaches to create a perfect cocktail that makes interaction with your company’s web-resource leave a long-lasting and memorable after-taste.
However, bear in mind that at present it’s no longer the design itself that matters. If what you aim at is creating a product that would correspond to your customer’s behavior, be both useful and usable, you need a UX (user-experience)/UI (user-interface) designer. To fulfil their cutting-edge mission, designers have to be real experts not just in visual design, but also information architecture, user research, cross-platform UX, prototyping and much more.
Thus, this guide intends to make the process of choosing your designer as pain-free and proficient as possible. Once you study it in detail, you will know about:
Once you’ve made a core decision to hire a designer, the next milestone is to figure out whether your business requires an in-house or an outsourcing employee. While the COVID-reshaped market has made remote work almost every company’s routine, there are still some issues you need to keep in mind and we are here to help you weigh your options.
What concerns in-house employment, the advantages are:
At the same time, such features may appeal to those who:
In addition, such a permanent workforce requires constant upgrading and upskilling as well as a “squad” containing a more varied selection of experts apart from designers themselves to fulfill the aim of genuine UX-UI design.
On the other hand, business process outsourcing offers you more opportunities with:
However, the real deal breakers are
Certainly, there are red flags you shouldn’t miss while reassigning your work to an outsourcing partner:
We suspect you already have a vital question in mind:
Here’s what our designers at LinkUp Studio can advise you judging from 7 years of cooperation with customers on an outsourcing basis. The ABC of the initial stage of your decision making process could be as follows:
A - when you want to Attract remote workforce who has that very expertise you lack. After all, statistics shows that as of 2018 52% of companies implementing IT have already engaged outsourcing.
B - when you need to Balance your finances and explore the possibility of remote and in-house workers cooperation. When it comes to outsourcing, it’s all about flexibility both in wages and the size of your teams.
C - when your company needs more Clients and you see it’s the visuals that can help. Just think about it: according to recent studies a successful UX design makes your conversion rates rise up to 400%. So, why not let the real experts help you enhance your business opportunities?
So, if any of these options (if not all of the above) suit your needs, go for it!
Certainly, there are more factors to be taken into further consideration like the scope of your project, the financial background and the time limit (wait, we’ll discuss them in detail later). What’s important at this point is to understand that the major drawbacks could be administrative features and advance investments. However, those are definitely the risks worth taking.
So, you’ve come to the decision to try outsourcing services and you doubt who to employ: a freelancer or an agency. Even if you have a general idea of advantages and disadvantages of both options, don’t rush to scroll down - we have some valuable insights for you.
In either of these cases rates will still differ based on the designer’s location, experience, and skills. Certainly, hiring a freelancer is a cheaper option. In addition, you may access a bigger talent pool since you can find almost any expert from anywhere. However, bear in mind that the pitfalls of such a decision could be lack of control (therefore, more management resources); sometimes lower level of responsibility and punctuality. So, if you need a few tasks done well and you are short of money but do not care for time limits, you may dare hire a freelancer. However, always remember that lower prices may also indicate lower standards.
What we stand for in LinkUp Studio is that agencies have more to give you. Literally, more as in “more people, more varied experts working on your project, more effort and opportunities involved”. Since hiring an agency implies hiring a whole team of professionals: not just designers, but business analysts and developers as well who are already tuned to operate as an entity. Yes, the rates may (or may not) be higher for such a 3-in-1 option BUT that also means more advanced levels of expertise and management.
If you need more examples of what makes an agency stand out dramatically, here’s what working with LinkUp studio as an agency provides for:
Therefore, an agency is obviously a better choice if you need an elaborate project done in time by a professional dedicated team who will be easy to reach directly, understand your aims, share your values and efficiently adapt to changing business requirements. No amateurs, no missed deadlines, no low-quality products - that’s what it should feel like to have a part of your team overseas.
It’s about time to give you more specific features an outsourcing designer should possess. To track the person you need, we are here to give you a detailed “portrait” (and bust the most popular myths about choosing the right candidate).
If the list seems too long to handle, think of it as the manual to keep your company prepared in case of any unexpected issues while selecting your future employee. Therefore, our “manual” couldn’t be too thorough for helping you make a well-grounded decision that would boost your business opportunities.
Once you have set your mind on a particular outsourcing agency, be sure to keep a few aspects in mind to make this selection process as fool-proof as possible.
First and foremost, (we suspect, you have already come to this conclusion yourself) - it’s not all about rates. Yes, you know they vary depending on location, skills and experience.
However, you are right to guess an outsourcing designer or a designing agency should not be judged by the cost itself. What you need is cost-efficiency. Low-quality software, breached contracts and budget overruns are just the top-three among the problems you will have to deal with once you decide to save a penny. Compromising in such cases is not worth the risk of losing time and settling for mediocre outcomes. This will only put you further away from your aim to satisfy the needs of your company and customers. Our best advice on this point would be to set a budget to make this demanding process more structured and predictable.
One more thing concerning financial matters is that even in case of a settled budget be ready to negotiate and make adjustments. Fixed guidelines are helpful. Fixed prices are a dead-end scenario.
Now let’s move on to less obvious issues. Evaluation and estimation. Certainly, everyone understands you need to plan. But how important is planning if your aim is to outsource? Even more essential than with in-house workers! Once you choose a reliable designing agency, they will make sure no grey areas are left before they start working on a project. Being specific is the key element to successful cooperation. You will need to deliver a bunch of details like the type of the project, functionality, features, deadlines, milestones, and costs. Note: the scope of the project should also include the stage at which you intend to involve an outsourcing designer. For instance, if they skip the research process, the price will be lower. At the same time, never underestimate the designer’s participation in every part of the project. Otherwise, saving money may cost you lacking valuable solutions.
Never fool yourself with expectations of accurate dates and costs. Yes, it is smart to ask for ballpark figures concerning the deadline but it’s also smart to be ready for rough estimates. 10% ambiguity may occur due to possible risks, lack/inaccuracy of data provided by you at the initial stage (see previous paragraph) and quality of work. In addition, it’s a good idea to ask both for a time range and probable calendar dates of delivering the results to see how much time a day/week is dedicated to your project.
One more tricky insight: experience ≠ actual skills and competence level. For instance, designers at LinkUp studio can truly boast of priceless knowledge, expertise and outcomes acquired in just 7 years of successful outsourcing partnerships in a variety of industries and fields ranging from consumer or financial services and real estate to media and entertainment, retail and healthcare. So, never judge a book by its cover as well as never judge an agency by its age or size.
What’s truly a must almost in every project (especially, with prospects of a long-term cooperation) is a trial task. The latter should be concise but definitely in line with your future tasks. Why bother and waste time? Not to waste time later. What if an outsourcing designer is perfect on paper but has a completely different vision of what you are looking for? Design can be rather subjective, so you need to start small and check if both the outcomes and interaction with a particular person are comfortable enough and correspond to your standards of work. On the other hand, do not expect such a trial project to be free unless you hire an amateur. In case of cooperation with an experienced agency, it is fair to be charged for a minor but good-quality product.
One more vital issue is to evaluate the level of competence when it comes to balancing the customer’s demands and introducing authentic ideas that would contribute to the project success. Thus, the climax of an initial stage of shaping your project with a designer (or the whole UX/UI team) could be their questions concerning the project. The latter are the true markers of their professional skills. If they want to know more about your business processes and the final outcomes - that’s the right person/team for the job. Again, if you are asked whether the buttons at your website should be round or square - you have met regular performers of the tasks you provide, not creative executives of your dream product. Casting is troublesome, so if you have candidates that seem to be unsuitable - that probably is true, don't let them steal your precious time.
Finally, never neglect legal issues. Who is the owner of the outcome product? What are the security protocols? Does the agency use licensed fonts and images? What are the cancellation terms? You need to think of all these things to avoid being left with low-quality designs or experiencing your agency going AWOL.
To make sure you are absolutely armed to win this round, here are our final quick tips from LinkUp Studio team:
Has this been helpful? Resourceful? Enlightening? We hope these are final questions you have in mind after studying this guide. A fundamental idea could be hiring an outsourcing designer is always a great opportunity when it is perceived not just as an immediate solution for vague tasks but as a major tool to enhance your business processes.