When you should pick an external UX agency over in-house team
For organizations considering whether to hire an external agency for UX, the number of factors to take into account might seem overwhelming. Is an external partner necessary from the very beginning or does one wait until product challenges and growth goals are at a juncture where the company clearly needs outside help? Regardless of the stage that the company is at, hiring an external UX agency is guaranteed to provide value, especially if you are a user-driven and client-driven company. Here’s why:
Innovation and Breadth of Experience
Organizations with an internal UX team have a tendency to concentrate on the immediate deliverables and short-term targets. Inward-focused, in-house teams often have deep knowledge about the organization’s objectives, constraints, users and more and while that is extremely important, external agencies can provide a bird’s-eye view of the growth journey that’s possible for the organization. Hiring an external agency can offer fresh perspectives for complex challenges and accelerate growth through innovation because they have seen how things work across industry verticals.
When Redd was hired by BlueStone, the user experience team that tracked customer behavior at jewelry shops found that the likelihood of customers buying jewelry increased with the number of choices that they were presented with. This same principle was then applied to Lenskart when it came to the number of glasses or frames that were offered to the customer. The results were immediate and there for all to see. This cross-pollination of ideas between industry verticals is possible only because of the sheer variety and breadth in the type of clients an external agency works with on a regular basis.
Speed and Broad Range of Tools
Quite simply, external UX agencies help an organization’s product team get their work done faster. With no link to the internal politics and organizational challenges of the company, an external agency is free to focus on deadlines and since they work on a wide spectrum of projects in a host of industries, they have an unbeatable ability to come up with winning ideas. Their processes and methodologies have also been developed after experience across different organizations. External agencies can also bridge resource gaps since they often have experts in a broad range of domains, from e-commerce to healthcare. Having a flexible ecosystem of partners can help an organization build the product or service of their dreams easily.
External UX agencies are not afraid to push back and validate an idea on its merit alone. While in-house designers may refrain from stating exactly what they think because of repercussions, external agencies can tell the organization exactly where they are going wrong and provide unbiased feedback because that is what they’re being paid to do. Executives and employees can also have tunnel vision and decisions can be made all too easily in echo chambers, making the product or service tone deaf to obvious user needs. An external agency, however, is often provided payments aligned with performance, so they have no problem asking questions, illuminating insipid ideas or explaining exhaustively the consequences of pursuing a poorly thought-out course of development.
Relative Cost and Convenience
When comparing the costs of hiring an external UX agency versus developing an in-house UX team, it is relatively cheaper to hire the external agency. The costs involved in building an in-house team, keeping them well-trained and most importantly well-engaged is a huge cost to the company. UX designers and senior UX strategists command premium salaries and it is far more convenient to have access to the same expertise through an agency. Not just that, retaining design talent is a challenge of its own because designers thrive on variety and tend to get bored when on long stints within specialized fields. Cost control, convenience and flexibility comes along with hiring an external agency.
Furthermore, when it comes to startups, the capital needed to build an in-house UX team might instead be better spent hiring software developers instead as this will allow the organization to retain its intellectual property within the company. Fielding a design team is not an absolute necessity at the early stage of the startup and can easily be held off for a later point in time when the cost of hiring an external agency may be more expensive than building one in-house.
Ultimately, whether you’re in the early stage where you’re validating a startup idea or working on a design overhaul of an existing product, hiring an external UX team to ideate with and use as an objective partner for advice can help any organization to avoid making critical and costly mistakes.