4 reasons you shouldn’t do your design work in-house

Last checked and updated on 16 July 2019

Professional design is a necessity to present your business to your target audience in the most positive and proactive light and, ultimately, help you realise the best ROI possible.

In fact, companies that foster creativity enjoy 1.5 times greater market share than their competitors and such design-driven businesses have also outperformed the S&P Index by 219% over 10 years.

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In practice, implementing an emphasis on design can be difficult from a financial, cultural and resource perspective.

Many businesses (falsely) assume that to focus on design you need to close ranks and bring all your design work in-house. Here are five reasons why this assumption is wrong:

  1. Third-party services lack consistency and style

In a world of Wix, Weebly, Squarespace and other oddly-named third-party website builders, you may be tempted to take a DIY approach to your design work in order to save both time and money. After all, how hard can it be?

Very hard. Design work isn’t just a drag-and-drop process to build a half-decent website and logo. Your business has a wide range of design requirements, including website design, mobile apps, graphic design, video and animation… the list goes on.

As such, it is often impossible to find a ready-made provider who will have the capability to handle all your design needs and bring a coherent voice to your business. Yet, research reveals 60% of US millennials expect consistent experiences when dealing with brands online, in-store, or by phone.

What’s more, your customers are wise to the cookie-cutter website designs such services offer. Stock images and generic designs stick out like a sore thumb and 75% of users admit to making judgments about a company’s credibility based on their website’s design, according to web credibility researchfrom Stanford University. And almost half (48%) of people cited a website’s design as the number one factor in deciding the credibility of a business.

Such third-party services and builders are a false investment, which devalue your business and fail to build trust and brand awareness with your customers. When you go the cheap route with your business website, you are going to get cheap results.

However, when you hire a professional design agency, you will receive a custom design that’s tailored to your business’s requirements and the needs of your target audience.

  1. You lack the necessary time and resources to build an in-house team

So, you may consider investing in an in-house design team. But the cost and practicalities of this approach may not work for your business. For example, an in-house UX designer alone could cost anywhere between £25,000 – £50,000+ in salary and benefits, depending on their level of expertise.

An external design team brings more bang for your buck. Research also reveals the cost of hiring an in-house design team costs around $1 million for both large and small organisations, compared to a cost of roughly $200,000 if you use an external agency. Furthermore, an external team will have (on average) 10+ years of experience compared to 1-3 years for an in-house hire.

In other words, an external team provides versatility through its broad range of skills and can adapt quickly to your needs. And, if there’s a particular skill set that your external team does not have, they can call upon a network of specialist agencies and freelancers to quickly provide you with what you need.

There’s also the speed the service. While an internal employee can take months to recruit and onboard, you can get an external design team up and running within a few days.

Simply put, an external design team will give you the specialist knowledge and experience you need, when you need it.

  1. An external design team will retain focus on your wider business goals

In 2016, Uber’s rebrand was an internal process headed by the company’s founder Travis Kalanick. It left users confused as it tried to introduce a story of bits of atoms, which was a little too abstract for its customers. According to Fortune magazine: “When building a brand, a company’s ultimate goal is to be able to create a distinct and meaningful identity in people’s minds. Uber has managed to create such an identity and uniquely associate it with a specific letter in the alphabet. In this context, Uber’s decision to give it up this positioning seems deeply misguided.”

If you want to avoid making the same mistakes Uber did, then an external design team will be able to objectively advise you on any branding decisions. This is because an external design team will tend to work with a range of clients and across different industries, which encourages a cross-pollination of ideas. An internal team, on the other hand, can quickly stagnate and become blinkered to the ideas and concepts of your industry and business.

  1. You will realise real ROI with a focus on design

A professional approach to design will boost your bottom line. It’s a fact that the world’s most successful multinationals recognise, and use to their advantage. For example, design-conscious brands including Apple, Coca-Cola, Disney and IBM, realised 219% greater returns than non-design-conscious companies between 2004 and 2014, according to a 2015 report from the Design Management Institute.

And, according to a study conducted by research house Forrester, every dollar invested in user experience design brings in $100 in return. That’s an ROI of  9,900 percent.

A good user experience contributes to many of the world’s corporate success stories. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos invested 100 times more into the customer experience than advertising during the company’s first year. Design thinking transformed AirBnB from a failing startup to a billion dollar business.

An external design team is a cost effective option for your business to put design at the centre of your ethos and reap the benefits. They will provide a superior quality of work, expertise and insights. And, because they work across industries and in a highly competitive market, complacency is not an option.

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Important – The information provided in our articles is intended to be for general purpose use only, and not advice for you or your business. We strive to publish accurate information, but encourage you to fact-check and seek expert guidance. You should always speak to a qualified professional to get tailored advice about how to operate your business under your specific requirements and circumstances.