• My Tools
UX, Thought Leaders

When to Hire an In-House UX Designer vs. UX/UI Firm

May 12, 2023

by Hannah Hicklen

The UX/UI design of your product can have a huge impact on your business and usability. Deciding whether or not to outsource to a UX/UI design firm can be multi-faceted. Weigh the pros and cons outlined in this article. 

A great UX/UI can attract new customers, boost brand perception, and increase user retention. Yet, what is the best way to improve your user experience and interface design?

Should you hire an in-house UX/UI designer or outsource to a UX/UI firm?

The answer depends on your needs and your budget. To help you find the perfect partner for your UX/UI design project, this article outlines the pros and cons of hiring an internal team as well as outsourcing your UX design needs.

Looking to hire a UX/UI Designer? Search for top-rated UX designers on Clutch, then filter by location, client ratings, and cost to find the perfect partner for your business. 

In-House UX Designer 

What is an In-House UX/UI Designer? 

An in-house UX designer is responsible for designing and improving the user experience of digital products for your specific business.  This is particularly beneficial because they understand your brand and audience particularly well.

They use research and analysis to identify user needs, behaviors, and preferences, and use that information to create intuitive and engaging user interfaces.

How can a UX/UI Designer improve your product?

  1. Product design
  2. Usability
  3. Functionality
  4. Accessibility
  5. User research 
  6. Information architecture
  7. Wireframing 
  8. Prototyping

Overall, the goal of an in-house UX designer is to help the company create digital products and services that are easy to use, enjoyable, and valuable to its users.

4 Benefits of Hiring an In-house UX/UI Designer 

If you’re looking to invest more in UX/UI design, you may automatically think that hiring an internal designer is the best course of action. Here are some of their strengths:

  1. Has a solid understanding of your product, brand, and audience 
  2. Long-term value 
  3. Easy communication 
  4. Dedicated to the success of your projects

Has a Solid Understanding of Your Product, Brand, and Audience 

While UX design is often focused on creating a functional and accessible platform, it’s also important to represent your brand and connect with your audience. An internal UX designer will have a better understanding of your product as well as your band and audience, thanks to the onboarding process.    

With a better understanding of your business goals and primary users, they will be able to deliver a custom design that keeps your users in mind. 

Long-Term Value 

Hiring an internal design team can be expensive, but your company will get a lot in return if you’re able to retain them. Particularly if you have extensive design needs, it may be more affordable to hire an in-house UX designer because they will essentially charge a flat fee.

Hiring an internal UX designer is a significant investment, but they will be able to consistently deliver high-quality designs that will move your business forward. 

Easy Communication 

It’s easier to communicate with internal team members than with independent partners. Existing  communication channels create consistency and ensure that all internal stakeholders are on the same page.

This streamlines the process, makes it easier to provide feedback and make changes, and allows the design team to work more closely with development. As a result, the collaboration is much more effective.

With better communication, you’re more likely to see the results you’re looking for and be happy with your UX design. 

Dedicated to the Success of Your Projects

As an employee, an in-house UX designer will take pride in the quality of their work and the impact it has on your business. Although a UX design company will still be able to deliver high-quality designs, at the end of the day it is just another project for them.

An in-house team member, on the other hand, will view their designs as their primary focus. They’re more likely to work hard to deliver the project on time and achieve the results you are looking for. They’re dedicated to the outcome and will be looking to generate results your business needs. 

4 Challenges of Hiring an In-House UX Designer 

In-house UX/UI designers can create user-friendly and brand-consistent platforms, but this may not be the right choice for your business if you have a limited budget or a short project. Here’s why:

  1. Costly to hire internal team members 
  2. Your business may have limited UX/UI design needs
  3. Limited internal team experience 
  4. You have to invest in additional resources

Costly to hire internal team members 

Hiring an internal team is a big expense and takes a lot of time. In fact, most employers estimate that recruiting a new employee costs 3–4 times the salary of the position.

In addition to recruiting expenses and covering the UX designer’s salary, companies have to budget for benefits, ongoing professional development, and more. It can quickly add up. As a result, it’s usually more affordable to hire a UX design firm. 

Your business may have limited UX/UI design needs

Many companies hire an UX/UI designer for a specific project. But what happens when that project is complete? Unless you have consistent UX/UI design needs, the overhead cost of retaining a UX/UI designer is often unnecessary. Additionally, employees without work are often less happy in their positions. This can disrupt your company culture.

Instead, hiring UX/UI design firm is a great way to keep overhead costs low and still get the user-friendly interface you’re hoping to achieve.

Limited Internal Team Experience 

Even if you hire a full design team or very experienced UX designers, they will have a limited skill set. This means that there’s potential for them not to be able to deliver exactly what you want.

UX/UI design firms, however, have expansive teams and the resources needed to deliver exactly what you’re looking for. If the designer on your project doesn’t know how to accomplish something, there are other team members and resources that can support your project.  

You have to invest in additional resources

A UX/UI designer needs access to several different tools in order to create a functional design. This means that your company will also have to cover these costs, which are often subscription-based and can be expensive. Over time, this can add up and take up a larger portion of your UX budget.

In contrast, a UX/UI firm likely already has access to the tools they need. This can reduce your overhead costs significantly. 

UX/UI Firm 

What is a UX/UI Firm? 

UX/UI firms provide all of the same services of an in-house team, but they aren’t beholden to just your business. Still, they’re able to deliver high-quality user experiences that make your platform more accessible, easy to navigate, and user-friendly.

The specific tasks they perform can vary depending on the company's needs, but some of their core responsibilities include prototyping and testing designs, collaborating with developers and other teams, and keeping up with industry trends and best practices to continually improve the user experience. 

4 Benefits of Hiring a UX/UI Firm 

A great UX/UI can impact accessibility and user retention; here are a few reasons why you should hire a UX/UI firm.

  1. Cost-effective 
  2. Skilled team 
  3. Flexible teams
  4. More unique ideas


Hiring a UX/UI firm is likely the most affordable design option for your business. As discussed above, hiring an internal team can be costly — the recruiting and onboarding process are expensive, and overhead costs can continue to expand.

A UX/UI firm, on the other hand, usually charge hourly rates for their services. By creating a budget, outlining your project scope, and communicating your needs ahead of time, you can minimize costs by hiring a UX/UI firm

Skilled Team 

UX/UI design companies are experts — they hire experienced designers with impressive portfolios and other professionals to ensure that their clients are pleased with their work. Younger designers have opportunities for professional development or to learn from more experienced team members, ensuring that the company delivers consistently great work.

They also often have robust teams full of developers, software engineers, and more. Access to these resources means that they can be a one-stop shop for your project, regardless of what you need. 

Flexible Teams

One of the biggest reasons why companies decide to outsource UX/UI design is because it provides additional flexibility. You can scale your project as needed and you won’t have any additional expenses once the project is over.

More Unique Ideas

UX/UI firms are full of creative people who thrive when working together. They also understand current trends and styles. Together, they’re able to create unique ideas that are still accessible and user-friendly.

While internal team members may also be creative and have great ideas, it can be easy to become stagnant and rely on the same templates over and over.

4  Challenges of Hiring UX/UI Firm

While a UX/UI design company  can deliver high-quality work regardless of your platform, they may not be the best fit for every project. Here’s why:

  1. Less understanding of your business 
  2. Communication with a third party can be challenging
  3. Less Control over their workflow 
  4. Risk of losing continuity with design

Less Understanding of Your Business 

Whereas an in-house UX/UI designer has a strong understanding of your business, it may be difficult for a service provider to grasp the nuances of your company or platform, making it difficult for them to deliver a functional design that meets your brand standards.

Particularly if your company operates in a particularly niche industry or is aimed at a smaller audience, it can be challenging for a UX/UI firm to consider all of the factors that impact the user experience of your product.  

Communication with a third party can be challenging

Whenever you hire an external service provider, there is a chance for miscommunication. Even if the hiring process runs smoothly, you may work with different people once the project actually begins, making it difficult to gauge how communicative the team will be until you’re actually working with them.

The best way to make sure your partnership runs smoothly is by establishing communication channels at the beginning of the project and scheduling regular check-ins. 

Less Control over Their Workflow 

Companies inherently have less control over a service provider than their internal team. A UX/UI design company has to balance other projects and timelines with yours, while an internal team is dedicated to your project and your project alone.

This can become a problem if things come up throughout the project, if deadlines shift, or if priorities change. For example, if you want to add additional design features later in the project, it can be difficult to add it to the scope of work.

If you’re working on a tight timeline, make sure to communicate that at the beginning of the project and establish milestones that they should hit.  

Risk of Losing Continuity with Design

When you hire a UX/UI designer, they are likely to work on one project and then hand off the specs to your internal team. However, if you need additional UX/UI work in the future, you will need to re-hire them or another team. There’s no guarantee that they will be able to retrieve or re-create the same assets.

The lack of continuity could impact design projects later down the road and create inconsistencies. Therefore, it’s extremely important to document everything from the UX/UI process if you hire a UX/UI firm. 

Choose the Right UX Designer Based on Your Priorities

Both in-house and external UX/UI designers are capable of creating user-friendly and accessible designs. However, they each bring something different to the table.

If your UX/UI design needs are limited or your budget means you need to keep expenses low, a UX/UI firm may be the best choice for your business. However, if brand perception and continuity in your design are your main priorities, an in-house UX designer may be a better fit. Carefully consider your needs before beginning the hiring or vetting process.

Looking to hire a UX/UI Designer? Search for top-rated designers on Clutch, then filter by location, client ratings, and cost to find the perfect partner for your business. 

Related Articles More

6 UX Website Design Examples
UX Design Glossary: 64 Essential Terms
How to Create a UX Design Budget [With Template]