If you are entering the UX sphere and starting to see the necessity of incorporating UX into your development cycle, you might wonder if it is worth building an in-house team. Or should you just hire a design firm to be your UX consultants? This dilemma is not unique but the solution to it is. Let us go through the factors that you need to consider before you make this decision.
Whatever you do, the cost is at the forefront of the decision making process. So for you to make this decision, you need to come up with your budget and see which of these options are more cost-effective to your unique situation. To give you a rough estimate, on an average, a full-time in-house UX designer will charge around $85,000 per annum (As of 2016). Adding to this, you might require a strategist or multiple designers as per your requirement. The designer’s salary itself might vary as per your location and the experience of the designer.
As opposed to that, UX consultancies charge according to your requirement. So if you have a very small requirement, you will be charged much less than hiring a full-time designer by an agency. However, the choice must be made by analyzing your requirement.
Here, the experience of the in-house designers, as well as the agency, matters. More experienced designers can do wonders for your company. They can turn around the projects and save you a lot of money. However, the expertise comes at a steep cost.
Similarly, well-experienced agencies can work seamlessly with your team and not make you feel the gap between your organization and the agency itself. Also, you can hire an entire team of well-experienced designers through the agency.
The speed here is relative. You need to consider if you want to work this for the long haul. If yes, then hiring and setting up an in-house team is the best option. This will take a bit before things set up. The recruitment process and the team building is a long-term process and your projects will not take off right away but once it is set up, you will have a functional team in-house at your beckoning for all the new and old projects.
On the other hand, any good UX agency will have a proper workflow set up that will allow them to analyze, and start on your projects at the earliest and report to you with a really impressive turn-around-time. If speed for a particular project is your priority, then you might want to consider hiring.
Obviously, having an in-house teams give you more flexibility on how to carry the projects out and how to utilize the resources the best. Your in-house team is a part of your organization and can align with your goals quicker. Also, the remuneration for the in-house team remains constant as the workflow goes up or down.
Whereas with an agency, there are obvious hurdles like added documentation and consulting for the changes in the scope of ongoing projects. However, if you find an agency that has been in the game for a while, chances are that they are aware of the hurdles and they have found the solutions to it. Some agencies have also started applying hourly rates to consultations so that the process remains agile and flexible.
Is there a golden mean?
There is, of course, a third option available, if you can afford it. Most big companies are looking to develop their own in-house teams in the long run but that hampers their short-term goals. Therefore, they hire a small in-house team and an agency which can work together as the in-house team grows gradually over the years. This allows the company to retain current projects with the same expertise as the ones in future irrespective of the size of the in-house team. This third option is a bit more expensive but it is the safest and very popular currently.
In the end, it completely depends on the scope of your project and your vision, what you pick. But these factors will surely help you choose. If you want to read more on this topic, you can check out our E-book that helps you navigate hiring your UX consultant.