Web designer or digital marketing agency?

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You’re ready to put your business online or to improve its digital presence, do you hire a web designer, or a digital marketing agency?

I’ll help you make a decision by breaking up a few aspects to consider, but first, let’s start by defining what’s a web designer, and what’s a digital marketing agency.

What’s a web designer?

A web designer is experienced in the areas of web design and programming, user interface design, and user experience optimization.

Ideally, the web designer also knows about search engine optimization, digital marketing, and social media marketing. The depth of knowledge, experience and skill will depend from person to person but generally speaking, these are the main areas of knowledge of a web designer.

Web design and digital marketing agency

A web design agency or digital marketing agency is a group of people, generally workers in a company, operating under one or more owners. They generally hire people of different skill sets to offer a wide range of services such as web design and development, social media marketing, content creation, pay per click marketing and other associated services, such as graphic design and video editing and production.

An agency can also hire account managers, team supervisors, customer service representatives and sales people, to provide a more complete customer service experience.

So, do you hire a web designer or a digital marketing agency?

Let’s break it up!

What factors do you need to consider before hiring a web design agency?


Let’s start with the most obvious factor to consider. Generally speaking, freelancers don’t have much expenses other than their time. This is why a freelancer will most of times be cheaper than an agency.

If they choose to rent an office or co-working space, they’ll have to add those expenses to their costs but in many cases, a freelancer can, and will work from home (mostly nowadays). Other than that, freelancers don’t have other expenses. Maybe car gas and maintenance, and sometimes online services that help us do our jobs better, like SaaS products and software licenses.

Is obvious that hiring one person will be cheaper than hiring an agency but this is not always the case. If you hire the best web designer in the world, it could be more expensive than hiring the worst digital marketing agency in the world. But it will be better to deal with only one person, than a team of people.

Confused? Keep reading.

Customer service

The more, the merrier, right?

Sometimes this is true. When you hire an agency, you have a team of people responsible for providing you with a high-quality service and product (at least that’s what you expect).

This could vary from agency to agency. Some of them will have an “account manager” which will serve as the point of contact between the agency and you. Other agencies will let you talk with each team member individually but in my experience this is a recipe for chaos. Is always better to have an account manager or team lead that works as the project manager, supervising all the tasks and milestones and informing the client of the progress.

When you hire a web designer, this person is the one in charge of everything, which makes the workflow easier, smoother. But is not easy for the freelancer, because they have to be always on top of many different things. The freelancer needs to be extremely organized and have a defined and structured methodology to work.

Ask yourself this question, would you prefer to talk with only one person that explains every part of your project in a clear way? Or with many different people that explain things in many different ways?

Have you ever tried to come to a consensus between many people by email? Horror.

Complexity of the project

Another thing to consider is the complexity of your project. Do you need a landing page? An E-Commerce site with 200 products? A marketing campaign in social media with lead capturing? A web application?

My main advice is, do a good research depending on the type of project you’re doing and make sure the web design agency or web designer have experience doing that particular type of project. Ask for referrals and samples of their work to make sure.

A complex or big project doesn’t necessarily mean you need an agency.

In my case, being a freelancer, when I have a project that is too big for me to handle, I sub-hire and inform my clients of this. I provide them with an outline of every expense if there were other freelancers involved and what tasks or parts of the project were delegated to them.

This way my client is informed, I’m transparent and they know what they’re paying for.

When you hire an agency, you pay the hourly fee, or the project fee, but no agency is going to outline how much they’re paying to their employees.

Level of involvement 

How much involvement do you wish to have in the project?

This is important for a few different reasons. In some cases the less involved you are, gives more freedom to the web designer or agency to do things their own way, which translates into faster delivery times.

On the other hand, If you don’t have any material and need all the content developed, the cost will increase. If you hire an agency you know the costs will be greater than hiring a freelancer.

In the case of a digital marketing agency, the team responsible for developing content could be from 3 to 5 people. So consider this when thinking on how much involved you want to get.

Current amount of clients or work load

Web design and digital marketing is a service, which is measured in time, or hours. The right way to estimate the cost of a project is to calculate the time needed to complete it.

So why do you care the amount of work your potential vendor has? Maybe you’re fine by trusting their time management and that’s ok.

When you’re hiring someone you should be able to trust them implicitly, but is always good to know the amount of work the agency or freelancer has, before they commit to you. I’ve seen projects go down the drains because the agency was under-staffed while taking new projects (while also losing employees in the same days).

If the agency or web designer can’t deliver, you’ll suffer the consequences. Always make sure to hire someone that will have enough time to work on your project with the quality it deserves.

What other factors to consider?

There could be other factors you could consider important. For example, what values does the agency or freelancer have or promote, social causes they support, or long-term goals.

The history of the company or web designer is also a good thing to research. How many years have been in business and how long they stay in touch with their clients. You could be interested in a long-term relationship so knowing all this will tell you what kind of availability they’ll have for you in the future.

That an agency or web designer has good online reviews is not the whole story. Unfortunately, online reviews can easily be purchased. 

In conclusion, make sure to do a full research of every option you consider, so you can make a good choice.

And of course, if you need assistance, contact me. It’ll be my pleasure to serve you.