How to Reduce the Outsourced UX/UI Design Cost

Updated: 7 days ago

Process = Time = Money | UX management

One cannot deny that whenever a company plans to engage an external agency or freelancer for their UI/UX design project, one of the key parameters is budget, especially in the case of fast-moving startups and small enterprises.

Though startups prefer to have an in-house product design team, setting up an in-house team requires a very deep pocket. You can read this article if you want to know the cost required to set up an in-house product / UX team.

Moving further, how can you lessen the overall cost. There are usually two models in which an external agency or freelance associate for the UI/UX design projects:

Model 1: Retainer price model - Pay per hour or pay per resource

Model 2: Fixed price model

In the case of smaller projects such as marketing website design, the fixed price model can work. Still, for longer UI/UX design projects such as software design, App design, it is advisable to engage agency on the retainer model. In such cases, requirements evolve with time; and the fixed model becomes a constraint for the project.

P.S: Agencies restrain incorporating requirements added on the later stage since it requires renegotiation of the cost.

Reducing the number of hours reduces your effective costs directly. 

Below are the good design management practices which can help you to:

  • Reduce the agency's working number of hours 

  • Reduce iteration (a quick fact, iteration adds up to 40% extra on the invoicing)

  • Faster decision making, therefore, faster handover

Combinedly, these can reduce up to 25% of the agency's working hours.

To put that in perspective, let's say you have hired an agency for $50 per hour, and the agency provides 100 hours a month. 

Total cost: $50*100 = $5000

Now, these small steps will help you to save 30 hours. 

New cost: $50*75 = $3750

Cost Saved = $1250

Let's quickly look into these design management practices one by one. At a superficial level, you might feel them as fundas and not tricks. But my friend, tricks can help you save time now and then; but you cannot build a platform by saving time through tricks. Therefore good practices are required to put in place before starting a long term project. After diving through these design management steps, we'll also see different stages in the UI/UX design journey and how we can eliminate a few of them to save the cost. 

UI/UX Design Management practices:

1. Consolidate Briefs

Before starting a design project, it is important for everyone to be on the same page with a similar understanding of the project requirements. Poor design briefs eat up a lot of time for both the end, i.e., yours and the agency. Now, the question arises what is a good design brief, and how to make one? You can read this article to learn about UX/UI design briefs. I am sure your design agency must be having their way of getting the brief ready. But in case if you have hired a budget agency, sometimes, this step takes a back seat. In that case, you'll need to step up and make sure to incorporate this step. 

2. Design References

Whenever you like a design, collect it for reference. Slice the design between aesthetics and functionality. In aesthetics, identify whether you liked the UI elements of the design reference, such as typography, visual design, colors, use of space. In functionality, identify if you liked the navigation flow, interactions, information grouping, and architecture. This step will help set the design expectation and save you "n" numbers of design iterations.

Few of the platform where you can quickly check design references in the order of their preference are:

  1. Dribbble

  2. Behance

  3. Pinterest (This is the best tool for collecting reference. You can make a board and share with the design team or vice versa)

3. Avoid dubious briefing and feedbacks

Such as,

➡️ I want a simple design

➡️ To use less detailed/minimal icons. Use white space. Easy to read typography. ✅

I want something revolutionary to be done

Add interaction design to enhance the intuitiveness of the platform

Make design elegant

Use of any specific colors, images, layout. 

It might seem like a lot of work, but it is not. Your design person can help you achieve it with the help of mood boards. Here is a quick article if you want to learn more about Mood boards.

  1. An email / a draft after the calls documenting the discussion - Always document the discussion to map the result. It could be from either of the sides. When we discuss, a number of ideas get thrown on the table. By the end, though, we feel everything is clear to everyone, but the clarity scale could be different. Therefore, the best way is to document the call/meeting to conclude the discussion's outcome.

  2. Give your feedback in writing. It gives you time to think analytically and identify the detailed pointers. Jumping straight off on a call to provide feedback will eat away plenty of your time. Eventually, this becomes a habit, and the iteration starts at a much higher rate than imagined. Sometimes, it circles you back to right where you started. Therefore take some time to think analytically before providing inputs. 

  3. Never change references midway until there is a functional reason behind it. In design, you can always find something better than your current reference, but don't get pulled to that idea. This practice creates an untamed circle where you like something; you try to design like that. Meanwhile, you like something else and start moving in that direction, leading to confusion and unsatisfied results.

These 6 points sum up the best design management practices and can help you save a ton of time, energy and money. 

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