As a successful Small Design Agency based in Preston, Lancashire, in this piece we offer five reasons to avoid Large Design Agencies and choose a small Graphic Design & Website Design Agency instead.
Large web design agencies have large overheads. Things like expensive city centre offices, large numbers of staff ensuring a higher wage bill, and then there’s the inevitable ‘directors bonuses’ which all have to be paid for. These costs are passed on to the customer one way or another. Sometimes these costs are met by clients paying higher than average prices, other times these costs are met by their clients getting an inferior service for an average fee.
Smaller web design agencies and freelancers have much lower, often minuscule overheads. Many small web design agencies operate from home studios, co-working and hot desk spaces, or shared offices with communal facilities, as they don’t need a huge, sprawling, expensive building to house dozens and dozens of employees. Small design agencies know what it’s like to operate on a tight budget – they do it every day – so they intuitively know how to maximise your design and marketing budget without cutting corners. The savings they make with the lean operation of their own business can be passed on to you, meaning you get more design and creativity, per pound spent, with a small design agency or freelance website designer.
When you choose to work with a small graphic design agency or freelancer, you get to communicate directly with your chosen graphic designer. You’re not hampered by having to communicate via a randomly assigned ‘Account Executive’, as is commonplace in larger design agencies. Communicating via a third party almost always means valuable messages get lost in endless back-and-forth email exchanges, telephone calls and necessary, time consuming meetings.
Your graphic designer needs to understand you, your business and your specific requirements. Direct, unfiltered communication allows both you and your graphic designer to understand one another more effectively and will lead to higher quality graphic designs being produced, in less time, with none of the hassle.
Freelance graphic designers and smaller agencies trade off their excellent reputations. If they didn’t have such great reputations, they simply wouldn’t be in business. As such, they often go the extra mile to ensure that you are 100% happy at the end of your design project, in order to maintain and improve their reputation.
Larger design agencies often have very high client turnover rates. Unsatisfied customers don’t tend to put up with high prices, poor service and uninspiring, generic or re-hashed designs. This in turn forces many large design agencies to cut corners, find cost savings or simply ‘churn out work’ just to pay wages and keep the lights on. For example, we’ve seen solid evidence of these large businesses buying WordPress themes online for a few dollars (USD $), then charging clients thousands of pounds for ‘website design’. Many of these agencies have bought WordPress themes for their own design agency website, instead of creating a bespoke, unique design to showcase their talents and design ethos.
Smaller graphic design and web design agencies are keen to demonstrate their talents and strive to stand head and shoulders above a crowded design marketplace.
Smaller graphic design and web design agencies are keen to demonstrate their talents and strive to stand head and shoulders above a crowded design marketplace. The lead designer is often the owner and founder of the business and will have invested an enormous amount of time and effort into building their niche, boutique design business. They see the reputation of their small design agency as an extension of their own personal reputation, therefore the stakes are higher as they are not simply collecting a paycheck each month – each design, each project, each client matters to them on a personal level.
LinkedIn testimonials can be seen as more authentic and reliable in the case of freelancers and small design agencies. There’s good reason to view these endorsements as proof of the smaller agency’s design skills and level of customer service as they are often harder to obtain. All these recommendations will have been well earned by the graphic designers themselves.
The benefits of using a professional graphic designer from a smaller graphic design agency aren’t just limited to cost, communication and reputation. Freelance graphic designers and smaller agencies can often draw upon a wider array of design skills and experience. When faced with a never-before-seen challenge, freelance graphic designers can’t simply ask a colleague or the head of ‘that particular department’, they have to invest their own time to learn and master this new skill. As such, freelancers and small design agencies often have greater experience and a vast skill set which they can draw upon when working on your project.
Graphic designers and creatives in larger agencies often become ‘pigeonholed’ and only gain expertise in a limited number of design disciplines. If your project requires many different skills in order to be completed, your design project will undoubtably be passed from one member of staff to another, incurring extra costs, increased time schedules as well as miscommunication along the way.
On the rare occasion when your freelance graphic designer or smaller design agency does need outside assistance, they will have a trusted network of suppliers and collaborators whom they can count on. Expertise like photography, illustration and print is often best sourced from these networks to keep costs keen and ensure that your project is delivered on time.
Choosing to work with freelance graphic designers and smaller design agencies is not only cost-effective but time-effective too.
Choosing to work with freelance graphic designers and smaller design agencies is not only cost-effective but time-effective too. Owing to the absence of interfering middle-men and unqualified Account Executives, your design project will run faster with a freelance graphic designer. You get to see your designs as soon as the designer finalises them. There’s no time lag between the completion of a design and its delivery, plus you can give your feedback directly to your chosen graphic designer to get your quality graphic design finalised faster.
Many large design agencies like to portray their studios as having playful, creative and relaxed atmospheres. Giant beanbags and Foosball tables are de rigueur and clash with indoor neon signage and brightly coloured walls featuring giant motivational mission statements. The reality is that this is just style over substance and they often have a rigid office culture with fixed roles, fixed job descriptions and fixed working hours, 9am-5pm, Monday-Friday, just like many other mid to large sized businesses.
From time to time you may need a graphic design project to be completed urgently. As small design agencies are owner managed and freelancers are their own boss, they will often work late into the night and at weekends to ensure that your urgent design deadline is met. Flexible working hours are not only a luxury for freelancers themselves; from time-to-time the flexibility often proves vital to clients too. Smaller design agencies and freelancers will always go the extra mile to make you happy because their success depends on your success.
In conclusion, large full service agencies have their place and many serve their clients admirably. Blue-chip companies sometimes need rigid structures and long chains of people involved with their complex, multi-channel, marketing and design strategies. However, for most small to medium sized businesses, bigger isn’t always better when it comes to design agencies. Smaller design agencies and freelancers offer a more personalised service, can draw upon a wide variety of experiences with other clients and create unique, quality graphic design and website designs each and every day.
"Quentin is quick to understand a brief and always delivers outstanding work on time and on budget."
"His right-first-time approach saves valuable time on every project and he backs his design work with excellent advice."
"A pleasure to work with and we will be using Quentin James Design again."
"The finished article was excellent and perfectly balanced for the audience involved."
"He interpreted my rather vague brief with speed, quality and an intuitive sense about what I needed."
"Having had the initial discussion Q came back with various options and from there on in through regular discussions he produced a website design that I'm proud of."
"I would highly recommend Quentin James Design if you are looking for a partner for your business."