Freelance developer or development agency?


During 2018 there was a 31% annual rise in people going freelance in the UK.

We have worked with many fantastic freelance developers in the past and it can be a great success.  However, what advice would we give to businesses asking whether they should choose a freelance developer over a digital agency for their new website build project?

Skill sets

From a skillset perspective it’s the norm for a developer to specialise in a specific set of skills. This is ideal if a client is using a specific language or CMS exclusively, but what if they needed to integrate with other systems or applications based on variant tech? An agency has several technical experts who can weigh up different options and recommend the best solution without having to follow one limited skillset. There are of course days when developers hit an issue and a quick chat between the team can mean this is resolved in a matter of minutes compared to a solo freelancer who may not have that support network of fellow developers on hand.

Shared knowledge

Ensuring your website is built with multiple people being involved from the outset will mean that the knowledge is shared. In an agency at least 2 developers would be up to speed on any client solution. This wouldn’t be the case when using a freelancer. If for any reason a freelance developer wasn’t available for a while due to sickness, you could end up needing to find alternative support to pick up from where they left off. It’s unlikely a new freelance developer will work in the same way and this could mean added expense to get them up to speed.

Working hours

Freelance developers work to their own schedule – unlike an agency. One of the biggest benefits here is that they can be more flexible and even work early mornings/late evenings to have things ready in time for a tight deadline. The downside is that clients who work 9-5 could find it challenging when their working day is out of sync with freelancers if they need something urgent.

Communication methods

When working with a freelancer there is only one person to communicate with. They are essentially handling all areas of the project from project/account management, administration, development and testing. For smaller projects this could be very efficient, however, for a new website build with many phases this could be a lot to take on. If a freelancer is spread quite thin due to multiple projects running simultaneously you might not be getting the response times you had initially expected. A digital agency provides clients with a dedicated account manager to liaise directly with internal teams to handle the management of the project, so the developers can focus on what they do best!

What’s right for you?

Choosing a freelancer would be a good option for any clients who are on a tight budget or need ad-hoc smaller projects. It can seem like a no brainer especially when it comes to cost. After all – they don’t have the overheads of running a large office with multiple staff on the payroll.

On the flip side, choosing a digital agency can be more expensive but will provide more added value and the investment can work wonders in the long run.  Especially if you’re looking to grow your business and would prefer to have one single team manage and implement your entire digital strategy.

If you have a project and are considering what is the best option for you, just give us a call!

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