Experts agree that research-informed UX has a high ROI for your digital product. Hiring a UX agency allows you to move faster as an early-stage company. But, if you can find and afford the right person to add to your team, it will be a good long-term investment.

Does it make more sense to hire an in-house UX designer, or work with a UX agency?

Sources like Forrester are saying, [in this paid report] “every dollar invested in UX design can yield up to a $100 return, representing an impressive ROI of 9,900%”. This means good UX is critical to the success of your digital product.

For most early stage digital product companies, the choices are: hire an individual UX/UI designer to join their team, or hire an agency to design their interface. Let’s dive into some of the pros and cons of each.

First, what does a UX designer even do?

UX designers are responsible for the user experience (UX) of the product. This includes the way the product looks, feels, and functions. UX designers use research, user testing, customer interviews, visual design, and creativity to create products that are intuitive, efficient, and valuable enough that customers will buy them.

In-House UX Design


🤝 Closer collaboration: In-house UX designers are more likely to be involved in all aspects of the product development process, from ideation to launch. This can lead to better communication and collaboration with other stakeholders.

⛏️ Deeper understanding of the product: In-house UX designers can continue to build on their understanding of the product, its users, and its goals. This can help them to create designs that are more user-friendly and effective.

♾️ Long-term commitment: Hopefully, your in-house UX designer is committed to your company for the long term. They can provide stability and continuity as the design team grows, as well as the entire product development process.


🤑 Cost: In-house UX designers can be more expensive than outsourced designers. The cost of salaries, benefits, and training need to be factored in. Also, finding the right team member can be more challenging than finding help for a fixed-scope project.

🔀 Versatility: No one person can be an expert at all things. One person may be a great designer, but a weak researcher. Another might be great at determining a simple user-flow, but not the strongest visual designer. You’ll want to hire based on which strengths are most important to your success.

📈 Risk: In-house UX designers could get caught up in making decisions that benefit their career more than the product. If not well-managed, it can be a risk to the company's product development process.

Outsourced UX Design Agency


💰 Cost-effectiveness: Outsourcing UX design to an agency can be more cost-effective than in-house design. You only pay for the services you need, and you don't have to worry about the overhead costs of hiring and managing in-house designers.

👵 Expertise: UX agencies can bring a wealth of experience and best practices to your project. They have worked with a variety of industries and product teams, and they know how to collaborate effectively to deliver great user experiences.

🔀 Versatility: A UX agency has team members with expertise in different parts of the research and design process. This allows them to work together seamlessly on projects, regardless of their complexity.


🗣️ Communication: Some UX agencies struggle to communicate effectively with their clients. This can be a challenge because you are not working with the designers on a daily basis, so it can be difficult to stay up-to-date on their progress and understand their decisions.

🤷 Lack of ownership: Outsourced UX agencies may not have the same sense of ownership as an  in-house designer. Because they are not a part of the company, they are not directly responsible for the success of the product.

📈 Risk: Choosing the wrong outsourced UX agency could mean that you don’t get the results you want. This can happen if the agency doesn’t have the right expertise or experience for your project.

It all comes down to this

Whether you hire a new team member or work with an agency, here are three things you should do.

📖 Do your research: Before you hire an agency or a new team member, be sure to do your research. Get feedback from companies who have worked with them before. Look at case studies but don’t just look at pretty pictures. Understand the reason for the decisions that were made along the way, and ask about the results their work achieved.

⭐ Set clear expectations: Before you engage, be sure to set clear expectations. This includes things like your budget, your timeline, and your desired outcome. This will make sure everyone understands what you need and that they are able to deliver on your expectations.

🔁 Communicate regularly: It is critical to communicate regularly throughout the design process. Understand the “why” not just the “what” they are going to do. This will help keep the project on-time and on-purpose.

Trying to decide how to incorporate UX/UI into your team?

Set up a free (100% no-pitch) strategy call with our UX strategist, William.

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