Should You Hire and Work with Low-Cost Designers?

One of the hardest questions for hiring managers to answer is how much to pay a new hire. You have to consider both the market price for that job and your own budget and needs. In the world of design, the range of talent and price is incredibly varied, making the decision all the more difficult.

For the past few years, businesses have become aware that great design is crucial to boosting your bottom line, and today design is at an all-time peak in terms of demand and employer benefit. Whether it’s optimizing the user experience, creating an app or mobile website, or perfecting a sales funnel, design can make or break a company’s chance at success in a market where every product and service has multiple competitors. What makes the difference then is the user’s experience with a company and how they feel when engaging with your services and products, and a designer is responsible for creating that emotional experience.

In a world where design is so important, of course, the ideal scenario is to hire incredibly talented designers to bring your business to the next level, but that can be expensive. Not every company can afford to hire the best when their resources are being stretched across all their needs. Sometimes sacrifices have to be made. So the question is, should you ever work with low-cost designers?

In today’s world, finding designers is easier than ever. With the rise of the freelance marketplace, companies can hire talent all over the world through their own search or through an online hiring platform that connects designers with clients. A company looking to hire a designer is no longer limited to their own local community, and while a global search sounds daunting, it ultimately leads to greater rewards. After all, if you search a larger talent pool, you’ll end up hiring better talent.

To help you find this kind of global talent, there are a couple different options at your disposal to connect you with the right professional for your needs. The first are highly selective freelance platforms that help you find freelance talent. For example, Toptal is a platform that connects you with the top 3% of freelance developers and designers that have already gone through an intensive screening process. Toptal’s team of senior engineers and designers learns about your project and then custom matches you with the freelancer that best fits your needs, and if you like the match, you work with that freelancer in a risk-free trial period of up to two weeks. If all goes well, you continue working together, and if not, you can meet with other freelancers to find a better fit. Given that companies like Toptal connect you with senior designers, these options aren’t cheap, but they do guarantee professionalism and quality work.

The second kind of platform is one in which you can post your position to a job board or browse through designer portfolios and message freelancers directly. There are numerous platforms that use this model, from Upwork to Freelancer, and they are useful hiring tools, especially for cheaper options, but they require more effort on your part. These platforms are ideal for finding a low-cost designer to work on small, simple projects.

However, working with a low-cost designer comes with a few caveats. The first is that you’ll need to vet that candidate well before hiring them. Many designers that offer low rates do so because they don’t actually have the expertise they claim to have. If you choose to hire a cheap designer, you need to make sure they are qualified for the task at hand. This will lengthen your hiring process and add expenses. Vetting a designer means reviewing their portfolio, interviewing candidates for their knowledge and technical skill, and perhaps even assigning a design mock-up project to see them in action. To do this properly, you or your hiring manager will need design expertise to be able to conduct the technical interviews. There are resources to aid the hiring process out there, but you will be doing the heavy lifting yourself.

If you work with a low-cost designer, the other caveat is that the project needs to be straightforward. If you need a design that will require customization and feedback between you and the designer, you’re better off hiring a more expensive designer that will be more professional and more able to tailor a design to your needs. Cheap designers are best fit for hourly projects and tasks that do not require as much complexity because ultimately cheap designers have less experience. The more complicated a project is, the more experience you want your designer to have, and experience isn’t cheap.

Whether you hire a cheap designer or expensive designer ultimately depends on your needs. If you are in a rush or lack design experience yourself, your best bet is to use a vetted talent network like Toptal. Similarly, if you have a complex design that needs customization and will take time, you should hire a senior designer who is capable of the task. However, if your design needs are straightforward and you have the time and know-how for the hiring process, it is possible to hire a cheap designer successfully and be satisfied with the outcome. Keep in mind that you get what you pay for. Sometimes, cheap suffices, but don’t skimp on budgeting if what you need is critically important to your business.

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