Outsourcing Design services – A guide for agencies


93% of human communication is visual. 

Our mind understands images 60,000 times faster than text. 

94% of customers will leave a website with poor graphic design.

72% of customers agree that packaging design influences their purchase decisions.

Social media posts with images get 650% more engagement rates as compared to text-only posts. 

Companies driven by design outperform the S&P index by 219%

Long story short: Design matters. 

No matter what business niche you operate in, you need to have clear, consistent, creative, and captivating designs to ensure business success.

And how can you get those kinds of designs? From experts. This means hiring a creative design agency.

But what if you are a full-service agency? Most believe that full-service agencies who have design talent in-house should not be availing of the services of other design firms.

But if you are considering outsourcing, pat yourself on the back for making a wise call. 

Want to make sure your wise call reflects on the profit side of your accounting software?

We have this detailed guide for you right here. 

Deciding if your agency needs to outsource design services

As an agency – no matter what your core offering is – the decision of outsourcing your design projects can be confusing. 

On one hand, you are looking forward to letting experts do the job for you. But on the other hand, you are also not sure how hiring someone for a job that could have been done internally would affect your image and income.

To be honest, outsourcing isn’t right in all situations. You need to know when to take the plunge and when to swallow the bitter pill and get onto the project yourself. 

For example, avoid outsourcing when:

  • You want complete control over the design process. Once the project leaves the doors of your organization, so will the control.
  • The project requires a certain degree of confidentiality. When you outsource, you share details with your design agency, which might not sit too well with your clients. 

However, there are some other situations when outsourcing design-related tasks is in your best interest.

Outsource design services if

1. The project is outside your range of design expertise

Your team has deep domain experience and the qualifying skills to deliver custom web and UI/UX design solutions. Great. But that doesn’t mean you can deliver logo design assignments too.

Designing how a website would look and designing a logo for a brand aren’t the same. Just because the project reads ‘design’, it doesn’t mean you can do it.

If you feel that a project is outside your design expertise, outsource it to those who excel at that specific craft. 


2. Getting the design job done in-house will be costly

Picture this. You get a project that requires you to carry out branding for a multinational conglomerate. You don’t have the manpower to deliver what’s asked of you. Instead of hiring staff for this one-off project, outsource. 

The people you hire for this project would most definitely be a liability after the project. If you need additional hands and minds or specialized experts for a project who you won’t be able to gainfully engage later, don’t hire them.

Outsourcing is ideal for scaling your design team for just a while. 

The same goes for technology investments too. If you feel that investing in some technology – online tools, software, design equipment, etc. – won’t be worth it later on, don’t do it for the sake of just one project. Find a design agency with the appropriate technical capabilities. And outsource the project. 


3. You are busy with other projects

When you have prior commitments, it is best to not pile on clients on your plate. But if you really cannot turn down someone or don’t want to miss out on a project, outsourcing comes in handy. 

For one, it helps you deliver what your promise on time and keep everyone happy – the clients you are serving and the ones you get serviced via outsourcing partners. 

Two, it helps you expand your portfolio. The design project that you got done by a white label design agency can still find a place in your portfolio. And can help you win more design projects later on. 

3 primary ways to outsource design services

Finding local companies who can do the design deeds for you, partnering with offshore white label companies, hiring a bunch of freelancers from different corners of the world… there are many ways of outsourcing design services. 

The best one depends on your budget, timeline, and project specifications. Here we are comparing the 3 most popular ways of outsourcing design-related projects.


1. Freelance portals

Freelancer portals are marketplaces of sorts where you can find freelancers in almost every field. You just have to post your design requirements and wait to get bids from interested candidates.

Pros of hiring freelancers

  • Wide range of options available in the global talent pool.
  • Cost-effective services.
  • No overhead costs or management hassles. 

Cons of hiring freelancers

  • Lack of stability with freelancers, not ideal for long-term associations.
  • No guarantee of complete dedication as freelancers work on multiple projects at the same time. 

Ideal for: Short and one-time projects like logo design. 

Not ideal for: Long-term projects like website design, UI/UX design, or marketing content design.

Read More: Why choose a Design agency over Freelance designers?


2. Design agencies

When you are running an agency yourself it might feel challenging to collaborate with another agency. It can quickly get complicated as you now have to deal with a team of entirely new people to get your design projects completed. However, it is a great solution if you need true expertise and 100% dedicated services. 

Pros of choosing design agencies

  • You get a multi-talented team of designers who can cater to a wide set of your needs.
  • Quality assurance.
  • Dedicated work as agencies are less likely to leave you midway.

Cons of choosing design agencies

  • If you are getting your client’s design services outsourced, they might not be comfortable with another agency working on the project. They expect YOU to work on it. 
  • Sometimes outsourcing projects to other agencies leads to client poaching and your revenue streams start to dry up.
  • You might lose your control over the design process. 

Ideal for: Long-term, high-volume projects where you need a team instead of just one designer.

Not ideal for: Short-term, low-value projects as the cost of hiring an agency might leave you with no profits for yourself.


3. White label design agencies

White label design agencies are one of the most well-received ways of outsourcing design projects. As the name suggests, the services are provided to you with a white label. You can brand the creative deliverables with your company’s name and logo and present the work to the end client as your own.

Pros of partnering with white label agencies:

  • A team of dedicated designers who can deliver a wide range of solutions.
  • Continued ongoing support. 
  • No hassles of client poaching. If your clients are happy with the work they. think you are doing, they are unlikely to switch to another company. 
  • Your clients don’t have to know that your internal design team is not the one working on the project. 

Cons of partnering with white label agencies:

  • It can be challenging to find the right white labeling partner for your design needs.

Ideal for: Pretty much all kinds of projects.

Not ideal for:  Situations where you want to micromanage tasks.

Read More: 5 ways to grow your agency’s revenue with white label design services


Tips to find the right  outsourcing partner for your agency’s design needs

Acquiring the right talent is the most important key to growth…

  • Marc Bennioff

The cost of associating with a wrong design service provider will be more than just lost money. Your time, effort, and reputation are at stake. That’s why it is important to be extremely vigilant while picking a design service partner. 

Here are some expert tips to consider:

1. Seek references

No one can guide you better than someone who has walked the path before you. Once you have shortlisted 3-5 agencies/freelancers for outsourcing your design projects, seek references from them. 

People and companies who have worked with these prospective options before are best equipped to give you real-life insights about the experience.  

If you are considering onboarding freelancers from platforms like Upwork and Fiverr, check their project success rates and reviews left by former clients.

 In case you are going with a white label design agency or a design agency, check their website testimonial section. Also, check their reviews on Google My Business listing and peer listing platforms like Clutch, GoodFirms, etc.


2. Evaluate portfolios

Once you have heard from former clients, it is time to see things in action. Most freelance graphic designers, web design agencies, and white label design agencies have their portfolios on their websites. If not, you can directly request to see samples and portfolios. 

How does it help?

By evaluating a design portfolio you can:

  • Check if their style of design and work suits your needs or not
  • Find out if they have relevant experience in your niche
  • Evaluate their design proficiency
  • Confirm if they will be able to handle the work volume you intend to share

Read More: In-house designer vs Freelancer vs White label design agency

3. Confirm communication channels

When you outsource any kind of service, communication becomes a challenge. Your internal team and the designers are not in the same office. They might also be in different time zones or might be fluent in different languages. 

To avoid miscommunication, confirm communication channels before signing any papers. 

There are several audio and video conferencing platforms that can be used. There are also collaboration and project management tools like Trello, Slack, etc. which can be used. 

Make sure you identify and establish a suitable channel of communication so that you are always aware of what’s going on on the design front. 


4. Discuss timelines and deliverables

Your clients expect you to deliver the designs as per a stipulated timeline. To be able to meet that timeline you need to know your outsourcing partner’s delivery timelines too. 

It is wise to always get the work done before the due date. This leaves ample time for revisions and any updates that may be needed. 

You also need to check what the absolute deliverables will be. 

For example, if you are getting a logo designed by a freelance logo designer, know what will you get at the end. Just a PNG image of the logo or the editable softcopy as well which you can use to make design changes later on?

If you are just getting the final image, it might not be easy to make any changes on your own without experts. An editable version is thus, well suited. 

5. Ensure ownership of creative assets

I paid for it, which automatically means I own it. 

Not in the eyes of the law. 

Legally, if an agency or freelancer designs anything for you, they are the first owners of the design. Not you. So if you want to make sure that you truly own the creative assets that you are paying to be designed, sort the legal formalities. 

Also, remember that you should get the copyright transferred to your agency’s name and not just the permission to use the design. 

Once you have the copyright, only then can you transfer it to your end client or use the design for your business. 

Read More: 7 Strong reasons you should outsource website design services


Outsource design services today

With that, we have come to the end of our comprehensive design outsourcing guide for agencies. You now have all the information you need to take the first step toward finding the right design outsourcing partner.

Lay down your design needs and if outsourcing is indeed the right way forward, start finding the right partner today.

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