Starting a company and thinking about building their own products, start-up founders face the common dilemma: should they do it in-house, or outsource their product design?
If you're in this position, fear not, as I'm about to guide you through the why's and how's of design outsourcing.
Just like with outsourcing software development, building an in-house team or choosing an outsourcing company should be based on your long-term goals and capability.
In-house vs Outsourcing: How to design your product?
There is no easy answer to the question in the title. Depending on your business' unique situation, it may be as good to hire in-house, as it might be to outsource. Let's compare the two options now.
Building an in-house team
Hiring your own team, including one or more designers, is a natural choice for many start-up founders. Eventually, isn't hiring employees a part of building a company?
There are also several advantages of this approach. A designer hired at your company, that participated in your product design, knows it well, can give a personal touch to it, and continue their vision while scaling your product.
They can feel connected with the product, care about its success, share your company's values and transfer these values on the product.
If you hire developers, project managers, or copywriters, they can learn to work each other more efficiently over time, get to know each other, and together build a strong team able to make your product truly unique.
Outsourcing product design
As in-house design surely has its pros, you should be aware of the cons as well, with the money being the most significant of them.
For a newly founded company, money can be a scarce resource, and you should use them wisely. The burn rate, meaning the money you spend before your product makes a profit, should be kept low. Here's where the outsourcing comes in handy.
With outsourcing, you can reduce the cost of building a team, including salaries, back-office costs, expensive hiring process, and even office space and equipment expenditures. Instead, you pay only for the time spent on your product design, with the fee depending on the company you choose.
What makes outsourcing a good fit for a start-up's product design?
Despite the reduced cost of outsourced design, start-ups can also benefit from hiring a freelancer or a design agency in other areas, including:
- Knowledge and expertise
- Flexibility of employment
The hiring process is not only expensive, but it's also time-consuming. Let's assume that you're a newly founded start-up with some initial seed funding. The truth is, you don't have that much time and money to spend it on looking for the best hires for your company, not to say to jump right into designing your product.
With the team of remote designers, you don't have to worry about it. Sure, you still need to find the right design agency or reliable freelancer and brief them. After that, however, they can start working right away, reducing the time-to-market for your product.
Knowledge and expertise
Hiring a designer can take time. Hiring a skilled designer takes even longer. Not to say that usually, people specialise in one area, so it's hard or close to impossible to quickly find a "full-stack" designer that knows it all.
Here comes another advantage of outsourcing. If you choose a design agency, they already hire several designers, each experienced in a different area, and ready to join your project if needed. That being said, outsourcing gives you almost instant access to top talents in particular fields.
Flexibility of employment
Designing and growing your product, it may happen that you only need a designer for specific assignments, not using their time to the fullest. This, again, creates a revenue loses for your company, as you still need to pay a designer's salary, even if there are currently no tasks they could work on.
With outsourcing, it's different, as you pay only for the work done. E.g., if you need a designer only at the beginning of the development, and then again to design a new feature, you can hire an agency that will be responsible solely for given deliverables.
Apart from its cost-effectiveness, this flexibility of employment also ensures project safety, as it's easier to find a new UX/UI designer if someone gets ill or changes job.
Recommended reading: User Centred Design for Start-ups: Methodologies You Should Know
What to consider while outsourcing product design?
If you decide to outsource product design to a freelancer or a UX/UI agency, here are some key things to keep in mind:
- Determine the time and budget –letting designers know about your schedule and budget will allow them to propose an estimate that will fit your needs. It's especially important if there's a specific deadline, bound for example to a launch campaign of your product.
- Know the workflow – decide who will be running a project from your side and how you want to communicate with the team. An agency may have its own process already in place, so make sure to be in-line with them for the best outcomes.
- Plan the hand-off in advance – do you hire software developers yourself, or outsource the development as well as design? In both cases, you should discuss with designers how the hand-off process will look like.
Hire a UX/UI agency
The rest is finding good designers to outsource product design to and getting an estimate.
In that case, you're in good hands, as we help start-ups, SMEs, and enterprises design beautiful and usable interfaces and products.
Interested in streamlining your product design with an experienced team? Let's talk!