On my previous post, I listed down a few advantages and disadvantages between life as a freelance web designer or a company web designer. I didn’t conclude it, because I feel there’s no right answer. It highly depends on someone’s lifestyle preferences, economy, etc.
I thought I would balance it with a list of pros and cons of hiring either a freelancer or a company web designer.
- Availability. Winner: Company
Freelancers can simply disappear. You won’t always know where they are because if they have an office they are not necessarily in it. Employed web designers are at the office if we are not in meetings. If we are not available, the receptionist or even our bosses can take a message. Somehow, we are reachable. If not today, then it will definitely be the day after that.
- Support. Winner: Company
This is associated with availability. Freelancers are here, they are there. They are everywhere all at once. This is because they have to market their business, run it and support it. Web designers under a company have a lot of different things managed for them. They don’t do the marketing for the company, they don’t do accounts. They are also usually at the office during working hours. They are forced to provide web support to a client; whether they like it or not. We deal with ‘transferred’ clients all the time; whereby they were dealing with a freelancer and because the freelancer couldn’t deliver or weren’t prioritizing on the client’s website for whatever reason they decided to go for company services.
- Complete Service. Winner: Freelancer
Through personal experience, this round has to be given to freelancers. Freelancers have control over every part of the service; from hosting to domain name, file storage and design. Every part of the service you are receiving is controlled by the freelancer. I can setup an entire website in a matter of minutes, from domain name registration and hosting to CMS installation and template setup. In a company however, we actually meet delays because different people control different phases of the development service. For example, the management registers the domain name and settles any costs associated with the development. The hosting is done by the web host section; typically the person who maintains the server. Let’s not forget file permissions – which in some cases, I don’t have the account privilege to change. The only thing the web designer / developer do is actually just the website part. This is a disadvantage if you need a website up in a few days. This is not always a problem, but this is a likely problem.
- Turnaround. Winner: Tie
Every project has a deadline. Although it is a challenge to meet deadlines as a part-time freelancer because more work just pop up out of nowhere, you can choose the work you do and you get to negotiate the deadlines with the client. As an employee for a company however, work piles up and there is nothing you can do contain it – you have to do it. But discipline is a lot easier in the office. So there is no winner for this round. Turnaround is subjective to the web designer.
- Costing. Winner: Freelancer
The one big reason a person will choose a freelancer is the cost factor. Freelancers can offer very low prices, a lot lower than what companies can offer.
- Free Extras. Winner: Tie
Free extras highly depend on the web designer; whether they work for a company or are a freelancer. So if you play your cards right and treat web designers with some respect, you might be lucky enough to get some free extras.
- Reliability. Winner: Company
I was trying to contact a freelancer for a client’s domain name recently. The freelancer refused to answer his phone, and didn’t reply to his messages. The client had already prepaid her domain name with him, but because he just “disappeared” we had to do it for her, and she also lost the money she gave him to pay for the domain name. This can happen. Many freelancers don’t work with contracts or paper. You just tell them the website you want, they build it and then you pay them. That’s how it works sometimes. If they don’t want to talk with the client today, they won’t talk with the client. In a company, web designers are forced to deal with clients. We have an employment contract with the company and if we breach it we can get into serious legal trouble. The company also has a contract with the client signed for every project. If the web designer isn’t available, the company has no choice but to outsource. Nevertheless, the work will be done. So hands-down, companies are much more reliable.
- Ability. Winner: Tie
Freelancers are very talented. Not everyone can be a freelancer. A freelancer has to have a lot of self-discipline, and they have to manage their income (bring in clients, keep clients, provide the service, and ensure the clients make the payments). The best of the best are freelancers. That said the worst are also “freelancers”. Look at it this way: if you are really THAT good at what you do and more, you will be a freelancer. On the other hand, if a firm employs you, you must have displayed some level of ability.
- Negotiations. Winner: Freelancer
The huge advantage of dealing with a freelancer is direct negotiation. You can discuss the service and what you’re getting, and how much you have to pay in return. In companies, the web designer doesn’t discuss costs with the client because the cost of service and product is assessed by the management and specific departments.
- Creativity. Winner: Freelancer
As mentioned above, web design freelancers are the best in their field. Most of the “best designed” websites out there have been designed by freelancers. I would have to link this to time and freedom, that employees just aren’t as privileged to have. Some days, I feel like I could do with a few weeks to perfect a certain style or to master a particular thing in this field. I don’t get that time at the office. If I were freelancing, I would simply take a break and not take up anymore clients if I wanted to learn something new or experiment with a new design concept. Occasionally, as a designer / web artist, I feel really bothered about the lack of time I get to find inspiration.