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When to Hire a Freelance Web Developer vs. Agency

April 27, 2023

by Hannah Hicklen

Your website represents your business and brand. Finding the right development partner is key. Learn more about freelance web developers and web development companies to determine which one is right for your project.

Your website represents your business and is often one of the first things a potential customer sees when interacting with your brand. Not only is the look and feel of your website important to your brand, the features and functionality are essential to provide a great user experience and achieve all of your goals with your website. 

But how do you go about developing a great website? If you don’t have an in-house web development team, you will need to choose whether you should hire a freelancer or web development company. 

What Services Do Web Developers Provide? 

  • Web design 
  • Scripting
  • Hosting
  • Website maintenance
  • Technical SEO 

While any of these options are sure to deliver a high-quality product, one may be a better choice for your business than another. This article explores the benefits and challenges of hiring a web development freelancer and web development company to help you choose the best fit for your business.

Web development freelancer vs Company Venn Diagram

Looking to hire a web developer? Search for top-rated developers on Clutch, then filter by location, client ratings, and cost to find the perfect partner for your business. 

Freelance Web Developer

What is A Freelance Web Developer? 

Freelancer web developers are individuals with the experience and expertise to support your web development project. Like web developers who work with a development company, these individuals have studied web development and are up-to-date on best practices. In fact, many have probably gained experience by working with a web development company in the past. 

5 Benefits of Hiring a Freelance Web Developer

Are you considering hiring a freelance web developer? Here are the top 5 reasons why you should:

  1. Cost-effective solutions
  2. Flexible schedule 
  3. Fast turnaround time 
  4. Quality web development 
  5. Great for short-term projects 

Cost-Effective Solutions

Generally, freelance web developers charge lower hourly rates than web development companies. This makes them a more affordable option for companies looking to build user-friendly websites with a lot of functionality. 

Even though they charge less, freelancers are still very skilled and can often deliver exactly what your business is looking to create. 

Flexible Schedule 

Freelancers make their own schedule and manage their own workflows. That means that they’re often able to work quickly to finish a project within a certain time frame.  

It also means that they can be available at odd hours. Because of this, it may be easier to collaborate with them if a problem comes up at a time that isn’t during standard office hours or if you work in a different time zones

Fast Turnaround Time 

Thanks to their flexibility, freelancers are able to turn around projects quickly, so your site is up and running quickly. 

Particularly if you have a small project, like one that only requires a few landing pages or developing a small informational website for your business, a freelance web developer is probably able to deliver the final product quickly. They may be able to stretch their work day to meet your deadlines. 

However, it’s important to note that this may not always be the case. Be sure to talk to your potential hire about their workflow before making a decision. 

Quality Web Development 

As discussed above, freelance web developers are still capable of delivering high-quality websites in a timely manner. Many have studied web design and development in school and are up-to-date on industry best practices, just like a developer at an agency. 

Many freelance developers have worked at web development companies in the past as well. As a result, they’re well-trained, communicate just as effectively as web development companies, and have a well-established workflow. 

Great for Short-Term Projects 

Many companies prefer to work with freelancers because it’s very easy to bring them on for short term projects. Compared to web development companies or internal web development teams, it’s very easy to hire freelance developers. 

It takes less time and resources to onboard a freelancer. Particularly when time is of the essence, being able to scale your team quickly is a huge benefit. 

Additionally, freelancers understand that the project is over once the contract is complete. Companies don’t need to worry about ending their contract or having to find the budget for long-term partnerships.

Their flexibility also makes it easy to work with them again in the future if the website needs additional maintenance or dev support. 

4 Challenges of Hiring a Freelance Web Developer

While freelance web developers can build high-quality projects at an affordable price, they often have some limitations, such as: 

  1. One-person team limits scalability 
  2. Limited skill set 
  3. Communication can be challenging
  4. Balance time between your project and others 

One-Person Team Limits Scalability 

By nature, freelancers are just one person. While their flexibility can be a huge benefit when it comes to scheduling, there is a limit to what they can accomplish in a certain amount of time. After all, they are human. 

With team size is a limitation for freelancers, they may not be the best fit for large projects because it would take too long to complete it. In this case, it would make more sense to hire a web development company that could bring on additional developers to speed up the development process. 

Limited Skill Set 

Although freelance developers are often very skilled, even the best developers have limitations. This means that it’s possible for your web development freelancer to be strong in some areas, but lack experience in others. 

For instance, they may be experts on certain coding languages but may not be great at creating responsive designs or debugging. In contrast, web development companies can easily bring on additional team members to support the project when needed. As a result, they may be able to deliver more complex websites than a freelance developer would be capable of. 

Communication Can Be Challenging

While many freelance web developers can be very organized and communicative, others are less reliable. It can be difficult to gauge how responsive a web developer will be until you’ve already hired them. 

Compared to working with a team with an account or project manager, it can feel like a freelancer is a little less transparent. To rectify this, make sure you ask your freelance web developer how they manage projects and communicate with clients before the project begins. 

Balance Time Between Your Project and Others 

With freelancers, bandwidth can be a challenge. If they take on too many web development projects, it can be hard to balance all of their responsibilities. 

Remember that they may be working on projects other than yours and, sometimes, other projects will take priority over yours because deadlines make things more urgent or problems come up. 

A great freelancer, though, knows how to balance their workload to make sure all of their clients are happy with their work. 

Web Development Company

What is a Web Development Company? 

A web development company is a larger organization that can help you build a website from scratch or update your existing website. 

Unlike freelancers, they have many team members that specialize in different aspects of web development. For instance, their team can include experts such as: 

  • Web designers
  • UX/UI specialists
  • Developers 
  • QA testers
  • Project managers 
  • SEO specialists

This helps web development companies ensure that they provide the best service possible for their clients. 

5 Benefits of Hiring a Web Development Company

Businesses looking to build a new website can benefit from hiring well-rounded teams with experts to support their project. Here are some of the biggest benefits of hiring a web development company: 

  1. Well-rounded and skilled team 
  2. Project managers 
  3. Can also support maintenance and ongoing development 
  4. Up-to-date on latest trends and best practices 
  5. Ability to create more complex websites

Well-Rounded and Skilled Team 

While individual freelancers may be limited in their skillset, web development companies have many team members with different expertise. They have UX/UI designers, developers, QA testers, and SEO specialists who can provide expert insight into your project.

Because of this, they are more likely to be able to deliver exactly what you’re looking for. Even if someone working on your specific project doesn’t know how to do something, they can rely on other team members working on other projects to make sure your website has all of the features you need to be successful. 

The team is also very experienced, which ensures that they know industry best practices so they can make suggestions that ensure the quality of your website. Thanks to their team of experts, they are able to consistently deliver high-quality work. 

Project Managers 

It can be difficult to work with third-party service providers, regardless of the scope of the project. Hiring a web development company that will assign a project manager to your project, however, will streamline communication and ensure that you have the transparency you need. 

The project manager will be responsible for communicating with you about how the project is going as well as relaying your feedback to the rest of the team. With better project management, you will be more satisfied with the final project. 

Support Maintenance and Ongoing Development 

Surprise! Your website will need ongoing support and maintenance in order to remain user-friendly and functional. If you don’t have the in-house team needed to manage your website, you can hire your web development team on retainer to maintain your site. 

By putting them on retainer, you will be able to reach them in case you want to add additional features and pages, or if you need support to resolve issues in the future. 

Up-to-Date on Latest Trends and Best Practices 

Not only do web developers spend time and energy on training and continued education, but they work closely with companies in various industries. 

They are able to keep a pulse on website development trends. With this information, they are able to offer suggestions that can make your website more user-friendly and functional. 

Ability to Create More Complex Websites

With a large team and more resources, web development companies are able to help build more complex websites such as databases and e-commerce platforms with thousands of product pages. They’re also able to add third-party plugins and additional features that are more difficult to execute.  

The more complex a website is, the more labor-intensive and difficult it will be to build. Unlike a freelancer, who can be limited by their skillset as well as their work capacity, a web development company is more likely to have all of the resources you need to develop the website you want. 

Whether you’re looking to create a content management system, want to add a live chat feature, or simply need a shopping cart function so buyers can check out of your website, a web development company should be able to deliver. 

4 Challenges of Hiring a Web Development Company

While web development companies can deliver top-notch services, they may not be the best fit for your business. Here are a few things to consider before hiring a web development company:. 

  1. Not as affordable as a freelancer
  2. May not take on smaller projects 
  3. Less flexibility
  4. Longer hiring process 

Not as Affordable as a Freelancer

The cost to hire a web development company varies based on the scope of the project, where the company is located, experience, and more. Generally speaking, though, hiring a web development company is more expensive than hiring a freelancer. 

Learn more about the cost to hire a web development company here. 

Of course, the total cost of the project depends on the hourly rate and how long it will take to complete the project. Even if freelancers have lower hourly rates, the amount of time it will take them to develop your website may make it more expensive than if you were to hire a web development company. 

While you can estimate the total project cost based on industry data, the only way to know which one will offer you the best deal is to ask for a project estimate before hiring them.  

Make sure to outline your project scope and create a web development budget before hiring a web development partner. 

Additional reading, ‘How to Create a Budget for a New Website [With Template].’

May Not Take on Smaller Projects 

Many companies prefer to work with a web development company over freelancers because they perceive them as more reliable and easier to work with. However, some web development companies may not accept a project if it is too small. 

Large web development companies often have project minimums. If you’re just hoping to launch a small informational website, a freelancer may be a better choice. 

Less Flexibility

The downside of hiring a larger team is the bureaucracy that can be involved. With more employees to manage and clients to deliver for, web development companies are less flexible than freelancers. 

With less flexibility, they may not be able to take on new projects or address issues right away. They’re also less likely to be able to add features or anything else that wasn’t outlined in the project scope. 

Longer Hiring Process 

To hire a web development partner, company leaders need to outline their project scope, assess the web dev team’s portfolio, discuss project management, and evaluate a potential partner’s problem solving skills. Only once they’ve been hired will they begin the web development process. 

Unfortunately, this process can take anywhere from a few weeks to months. That can be a long time for businesses looking to get their site off the ground as soon as possible.

Although companies have to go through a similar process when hiring a web development freelancer, the timeline is generally shorter. It may only take a few days to a few weeks to connect with the right freelancer for your project. 

Regardless of Your Web Dev Partner’s Size, Consider These Factors 

Choosing a web development partner is a big decision. Not only will it impact the functionality and design of your website, but it will also impact the cost of the project and project timeline. 

While freelancers are often more affordable and flexible, web development companies have more resources and larger teams, which can help them deliver more complex platforms. 

To choose which one is the right partner for your business, consider what is most important to your business. Is it price? What features they are able to add? Or how they communicate? With this information, you can carefully weigh the pros and cons of hiring either a freelancer or web development company and choose the perfect partner for your project. 

Looking to hire a web developer? Search for top-rated developers on Clutch, then filter by location, client ratings, and cost to find the perfect partner for your business. 

Additional Reading: 

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