If you want a reliable web design service you have two options; a design agency or a freelance web designer. Both can get the job done but the difference could be worth several thousand pounds.

There’s not necessarily a right or wrong designer style or type, but it’s vital that you understand the fundamental differences between the different types of available firms before you start your search for a web designer.

If you’re not sure how designers operate, you risk hiring a firm that’s not compatible with your needs. If you hire the wrong designer, they’ll never be able to meet your expectations and you could incur additional costs.

Your decision in choosing a supplier should be based on:

  • The skill set and capabilities required for your website to reach your business goals.
  • Cost and budgets.
  • The personalities of your business’s main contact and your website project manager.

Let’s compare types of designers so that you can determine which one is the best match for your project.


Agencies have a team of staff, typically a sales manager, project manager, designer and developer.

Having spent most of my career working as a designer and developer for agencies, I’ve seen the pros and cons of this kind of service. As a freelancer, I offer something unique that fills a gap somewhere in between where the two can fall short.


Agencies have a team of staff, typically a sales manager, project manager, designer and developer.

Having spent most of my career working as a designer and developer for agencies, I’ve seen the pros and cons of this kind of service. As a freelancer, I offer something unique that fills a gap somewhere in between where the two can fall short.



Freelancers cost less than hiring permanent employees. This isn’t because they charge a lower hourly rate but because they’re more cost efficient. Even though you might pay a higher hourly rate, you can save money for the following reasons:

  • You only pay freelancers for what they produce, which means your money isn’t wasted on communications and down-time.
  • You don’t have to contribute towards PAYE, statutory holidays,  additional office or supply costs.


This is important. Freelance website designers are usually willing to work more creatively and innovatively than agency staff. Their jobs are on the line so they’re always trying to push the boundaries to impress their clients with interesting design that perfectly functions and helps meet your business objectives.


Freelancers are good at taking initiative and generally won’t need much guidance, allowing you to spend more time on your business. Because of their experience, they don’t have to spend time training new employees.


Your web designer is the best person to discuss your project with, not a sales rep. When dealing with an agency’s multiple points of contact, it’s easy for information to get misunderstood and your brand identity to get lost. A freelance web designer will need to get a feel for how you operate and might want to visit you to understand your business. The identity of your site could get lost if anyone other than the designer or developer attends this meeting.


Freelance web designers don’t get caught up in internal processes, so decisions are made at a quicker pace and your amends are likely to be done more promptly.


Since a freelance designer can work remotely, it eliminates the need for you to provide office space for them. A freelancer can work from wherever is convenient.


Typically, agencies employ two different people for these roles. In my experience the designer would have little knowledge of web code or how to build a fast, responsive and searchable website. All these fundamentals need to be incorporated into the design from the offset if they are to be implemented correctly. These two processes must be done by one person in order to get this right.


Freelancers heavily rely on referrals, good reviews and word-of-mouth recommendations, so excellent customer service is of paramount importance. This means that as the client, you’re much more likely to get quick responses and work delivered on time.


Agencies often juggle many different projects at one time. Freelance web designers tend to work on one site at a time, so they can dedicate their time to your business and immerse themselves in your brand.


Often, freelancers become freelancers because they want more control over their clients and the content they’re creating. This means you can rest assured that your freelance web designer will be interested and invested in your business because they have the freedom to pick and choose their clients.


It’s important that freelancers keep up to speed with the latest innovations and they’re constantly researching new technical features and design ideas. This will benefit your business, because they’ll be able to use these new cutting-edge technologies on your website.


Most agencies rely on third-party hosting providers to manage and store website files, which is fine until an issue arises. If your freelance web designer looks after all your hosting needs, they can address any updates and web maintenance whenever needed. Who better to maintain the website than the person who built it.


Many agencies tie you in with contracts and block access to the files that run your website. When working with a freelancer, at every point in the process, from domains, design rights and files, you have complete ownership and control. If, for whatever reason, you decide to transfer or move your site then you can do so at your convenience. There’ll be no need for expensive add-ons or additional ongoing amends.


Experienced freelance web designers have very specialist expertise and have a very specific job with a specific set of skills. You know that the job will be completed without you having to hire someone afterwards to finish things off.


Trust can understandably be an issue for new freelancers who haven’t had a chance to build a reputation or portfolio. I’ve been in the fortunate position to win some big contracts with both The University of Sheffield and York in the early years of my career, who continue to use me on a regular basis. If organisations such as these feel they can trust my standard of work and operation then it’s perhaps easier for smaller businesses both local and national.

Hiring a freelance web designer or developer in Sheffield will clearly save you time and office space, will give you more flexibility and it will provide you with a better service at a lower cost.

If you’ve not hired a freelance web or graphic designer before and are nervous about how it might work, don’t worry. Due to the nature of their job and the people they work with, freelancers tend to be friendly and approachable. It’s in their interest to make sure that they understand exactly what you need and can deliver exactly what you want.

Let me know if you need any more help in choosing your next freelancer or consultant.

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