Best Fit Engagement Models with UX Design Agencies

Updated: Sep 28



You have decided to onboard a UX/UI design agency and need a cost-effective way to engage with them. This can be confusing especially if you have never worked with a UX design agency.


This blog can let you explore the most common engagement models for UX design agencies and helps you figure out the right model for your company. While the blog looks specifically at a UX/UI design agency, the theory can also be extended to service and creative agencies and freelancers.


Companies across the globe use the following outsourcing engagement models.

1. Project Based UX Outsourcing Model:

You outsource an entire project to an agency and receive an estimate for the project completion that is within your budget. For instance, your budget for designing a module is USD 60K, and you receive an estimate of USD 50K from a design agency. In this case, you can take your project forward with the agency by paying them some advance.

2. Hourly Based UX Outsourcing/ Retainer Model:

In this model, you onboard a UX design agency on an hourly basis to work on your idea. The agency completes your job and bills you for specific hours at the end of each month. For example, the agency puts in 100 hours of work in a particular month. Then, the agency can bill you for USD 6 K at a rate of USD 60 per hour.


3. Resource Based UX Outsourcing/ Freelance Model:

This model involves hiring specific resources from a UI/UX design agency for a particular project. This scenario is ideal when you want professionals with specific skill-sets but are unwilling to bring in an entire agency. For instance, you approach an agency for hiring two UX developers for your project. They deploy two resources for the same and charge you weekly or monthly for each resource.


Which outsourcing model will work for me?

Our simple framework at Ungrammary can let you decide which engagement model will suit your interests.


Keep reading to find use-case scenarios and simple instances of each engagement model.


When should I opt for a project based UX outsourcing engagement model?

You should opt for this model only when:

  1. You require a diverse skill-set; and

  2. You are clear about your deliverables, and they are quantified.

Project Basis- UX Design Engagement Model

Let's dive into both the points with an example.


You approach a UX design agency and tell them you need to have some landing pages re-designed. This information is generic and can generate a lot of confusion about your deliverables on both sides. However, if you mention that you need the UI designed for three landing pages, your deliverable becomes quantified.


In another scenario, if your deliverable is a 60-minute video, it needs multiple resources with diverse skill-sets. You'd need a director, an editor, a screen-writer, a graphic artist or more people depending on the video. Bringing in an entire agency for the project can give you access to professionals with different skill sets.


There can, however, be a drawback to this engagement model. You might not be able to iterate much on your deliverables. Suppose you expect the changes in your project more than usual. In that case, you should consider the following engagement model.


When should I go for an hourly basis UX outsourcing engagement model?

You should opt for this model only when:

  1. You require a diverse skill-set; and

  2. Your deliverables are not quantified.

Hourly Basis- UX Design Engagement Model

We've covered the diverse skill-set requirement with an example. Let's understand what we mean when we say a deliverable isn't quantified.


Building a design product can be a lengthy iterative process. Few design projects evolve with time and change their requirements as you progress further. For instance, you can find it challenging to estimate the amount of work needed for developing an app unless you are a UX designer yourself.


Usually, product design requirements evolve as new insights come in from customers. Hence, we suggest you opt for an hourly billed model in such scenarios. You can shirk off the worry of hiring and managing a design team.


When should I choose the per-resource UX outsourcing engagement model?

The thumb rule for choosing the resource-based model are the following criteria:

  1. Your deliverables are not quantified; and

  2. You require a specific skill-set.

Resource Basis- UX Design Engagement Model

This model is great for projects in UI design and graphic design where you need particular skills. Yet, you don't have an exact estimate of the deliverables.


You can approach experienced agencies to hire the skill-sets you need for the project. The resources can work as your in-house team for the duration of the project. This saves you from the hassles of managing them, hiring them or handling their payroll.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)


Question 1: I need 20 illustrations for my website. Which engagement model should I go for?

Answer: You have a quantified deliverable (20 illustrations) and need a specific skill set for the project (graphic artist). Hence, you should hire a full-time illustrator from a design agency on a project basis.


Question 2: I need a branding kit for my company. What model should I opt for?

Answer: A branding kit can involve a lot of specific variables which require different skill-sets. Hence, you should hire an agency on a project basis.


Question 3: I have the wireframe ready for my website and need UI design for those wireframes

Answer: Skill specific but deliverables not quantified, therefore, the best option is to hire a resource with the required skill.


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