Hire or outsource web design?


When building a website in a bootstrapped startup, is it better to hire a web designer or outsource the work? All of the founders are coders and don't excel in web design. Apart from that, if the design is not going to evolve much, we would be able to make small fixes without outside help and there won't be a lot of effort required to maintain it.

In general what would be the pros and cons of hiring and outsourcing the design? After all, it's not the core of the product, although important. What do you guys think?

Hiring Outsourcing Design Web Dev

asked Mar 9 '10 at 23:53
316 points
  • By web design, you are referring to the graphics/color scheme and not the UI? – Jeff O 14 years ago

9 Answers


Last time I worked on a project that used an outside design agency, the results were quite good. The one-time costs were high, but not out of line with a fully-loaded employee. To this day (about 4 years later) the site continues to grow using the same basic design.

Some tips:

  • If I needed design help on a low-budget project, I'd probably outsource to a single designer rather than an agency.
  • If you're coders, then you should ask the design agency/resource to provide you with static HTML pages -- nothing more and nothing less. Paying for more (say, working templates) is not worth it, because you're going to be modifying those over the life of your business; your employees need to know and love how they work. Paying for less is risky because it can be time-consuming to translate a mockup into a working HTML page (browser, screen-size compatibility, layout issues, etc).
  • Choose a neutral, somewhat-vanilla design. Black-on-orange zigzags may seem really cool when you launch "KillerBeez.com", but it's going to be difficult to adapt when your audience turns out to be 60-year-old opera lovers.
  • At some point, you may tire of photoshopping and cutting up images or you may realize that it's devolving into a Frankensite,design-wise. If you have the money, you can always hire a full-time designer then.
answered Mar 10 '10 at 04:00
831 points
  • A really good and extensive answer. Thanks, Joe. – Slavo 14 years ago


I think hiring locally is always beneficial for several reasons. The biggest being that you can easily consult with the designer on changes in person. Secondly and probably just as important is that if they end up working out really well then you have a local contact who you already have worked with whom you may be able to hire PT or FT when the time comes. Working with someone offshore or via an outsourcing type of system you are sheltered from them and their pool of resources. So once they are gone they are gone.

answered Mar 10 '10 at 01:57
Mcm Com
51 points


I think you should definitely outsource vs. hire someone. Unless that person is going to be busy every day, then you have the great potential of having a headcount that's costly and wastes money. It sounds like the design won't be changing much so outsource it.

I disagree about hiring locally. I've been on both sides (agency and client) involved with web development projects and there's no need to see someone in person, especially for a smaller site. It can be done via phone and emails very nicely.

answered Mar 10 '10 at 08:11
4,214 points


Web work is collaborative and a personal expression of your business. Often this is best done on a local basis with face to face interaction.

On the other side of the coin, not staying local opens an enormous pool of designers to you. This can be good (lots of choice) and bad (how do you choose?).

answered Mar 10 '10 at 03:20
256 points



Go buy a template from themeforest or something and get it up and running on Wordpress. You know your content the best, get it written and into a theme that looks decent. You can then hire a designer to polish up the design based on the copy you have written.


answered May 11 '12 at 01:20
Jas Panesar
244 points


Is it better to hire a web designer or outsource the work?
Definitely hire and outside resource.

1- When you work with on outside firm, you save by not having to hire a person and have them on staff for this purpose. From your description of founders' expertise it sounds like you can maintain the site internally once its done and delivered.

2- By hiring an outside firm you also get the expertise and know how of hopefully a firm that has been doing this for living and for a while. They can offer you a range of solutions both in case of information architecture as well as design for the website. And the designs that you will receive is from a group of designers and not just one individual.

Hire a local firm or outsource?
End of the day it really depends on what you expect out of the first phase of your website. If you think using available templates out there or work of an outsource firm outside of US will satisfy you, then that would be the route to go. Be ready to deal with a little bit of back and forth and as mentioned in previous answers potentially some language barrier and all the good stuff that come along with working with firms outside of the country.

If you believe you want to have a website that you want to keep and grow with then I recommend working with a local firm that can sit with you face to face and understand your company, your product and market and can spend the time with you to evaluate your competition and then go to work and hopefully give you a solid solution that you can grow with and keep for a while. After all whatever perception and emotion your audience walks away with is going to be your brand. First impressions are very important.

answered May 28 '10 at 03:55
Arman Arami
399 points


The beauty of web design is that you can make use of the best talent regardless of where they are located. I have done web design internationally without meeting a client face-to-face for more than eight years. These projects have been very successful. They key is a good communication style, ongoing review, and, of course, web design skills that may not be available locally.

Good web design is critical for a startup because what people see when they come to your web site for the first time becomes your brand. It is your storefront. That first impression must be well managed. We have a number of excellent articles designed to help start-up businesses grappling with the web design process. You may find them helpful.

answered Oct 22 '10 at 10:15
19 points


I would outsource it. As to whether or not it matters if the vendor is local, well, it probably doesn't matter so long as there are no language barriers. And so long as the vendor is an adult.

When you outsource the work, just be certain that the vendor is using normal commercially available, mainstream tools that other competent vendors could use if you have to replace the vendor and have someone else take over.

answered Mar 10 '10 at 12:52
433 points


What about hiring an intern? I have come to realize that my brother, who is really good at graphics design, can do a considerably professional graphics and web design job at minimum wage, interns work for free too if they agree to it. All you have to do is ask for a portfolio. You wont be spending much and you would be giving that student a chance at experiencing a start up company.

Unless you needed the job done real quick.

answered Mar 10 '10 at 18:47
418 points
  • Interns don't always work for free and they are not always good. It's kind of like gambling. – Slavo 14 years ago

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