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How [not] to do UX/UI design outsourcing right


Design Agency

How [not] to do UX/UI design outsourcing right - Qubstudio

What is Design Outsourcing?

Generally, outsourcing means handing the work off to somebody from outside the company or (most recent) to the foreign workers. This kind of labor redistribution is not a novelty. The most popular thing is outsourced for UX/UI design companies are design services such as branding, graphics, research, web and app design, prototyping a demo, user testing.

Let’s list the most common reasons why people are looking for specialists from outside the company.

Why use design outsourcing?

A lower rate is the very first reason why it might be a good idea. The economic situation differs from country to country.  There’s always a chance to win the same quality for lower pay.

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No need to keep a designer’s team in your company. This relates in particular to small IT startups. When you’re on the way of growing, there is no sense in hiring a huge team.  In most cases, startups take on one ongoing designer who is a unicorn for all kinds of tasks inside the company. Still, your company can support a vast range of projects, from logo to motion design or VR projects. In the case of highly productive coding department, it is better to outsource hand off teams for each project. It would boost your chances of gaining more ongoing projects.

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Fresh ideas, richer experience and a new point of view. An outsourced design team is likely to have large expertise as it is used to work on very different projects. If you need a website for a special case,  you can check the teams that have already launched similar projects.


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This is a cost-effective solution for an agency-reseller. Sometimes the difference in prices is impressive, that’s why outsourcing could cut labor costs without losing important phases of development.


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Saving time. A competent delegation of work saves your time and resources. Design professionals complete tasks faster, without dropping important details.


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Wins and Fails of outsourcing

Reasons would depend on what kind of project you want to launch, how large your team is and what is the priority of your business.

So, what are the wins? First of all,  you don’t need to hire more employees and arrange workspace with all the needed instruments like graphics software. Adding new members to your small team may turn out to be expensive. Design trends are changing so fast, you won’t be able to cover every client’s need even with a high-skilled and very enthusiastic designer on staff. In the case with a remote team, you will spend less money and time to get the work done.

Also, you will receive a really huge energy charge. Sometimes, when you work days and nights,  you may miss the issue, that would be as plain as the nose on one’s face. Therefore you might get stuck and start to procrastinate the whole project. New blood from the outside may happen to be a brilliant solution.

So, if bringing it all down to a short list, the benefits of outsourcing design are as following:

cash list iconOutsourcing  lowers the cost of real estate
acquisition for your company budget.

deal iconB2B relationship lowers the risk
and provides better security.

statistic iconOutsource designers diversify
your company.


cash iconYou are creating an opportunity for foreign
workers. ‘Paying less’ for you usually means
a good salary for a foreign worker.

time iconHanding the work off reduces
development cycle time.

Still, the pitfalls of outsourcing could cause some disorder. So, before you come up with the final decision, check out the possible risks and take them into consideration.

design translator iconLanguage barrier. It should not be a problem if both sides
of cooperation speak at least one common language good
enough to set up the working process. But it will take some time
to get used to somebody’s accent or way of talking.

coin iconIntellectual property of a company can be under the risk. Check
out the basic legislation details before you start to cooperate.

check icon designOther countries’ quality standards may differ, so it’s always
good to run a double-check.

group talk iconMisunderstanding in the field of culture. Make sure that outsource
workers have the culture similar to your and clients. For example,
the red color in Asia will be the color of joy, and in Europe, it would
stand for mistake or danger. It’s better to work with people who
share your cultural background.

Types of design outsourcing services, or what can you expect from a freelancer?

It is important to know what exactly you need to launch in your project. If you have an idea and want to turn it into a product,  you can outsource a discovery phase. This service is a brief analysis of your business: from idea to end users, direct and indirect competitors, risks, monetization, etc. Discovery phase is extremely useful if you want to calculate the budget and create full design documentation for your future project.


User Experience – it’s about how your user will feel and interact with your product. If you want to provide people with a new solution, you should know their habits and follow their preferences .

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Brand identity like logo, typography, color palette, forms and shapes of your uniqueness, product packaging, website creation, business cards.

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User Interface is the most popular form of design outsourcing services. It is all about the features and tools of your website or mobile application.

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Prototyping – is the best way to ideate your MVP and check how it will look and work. Clickable prototypes serve as a practical manual for developers. Basically, it is a full visualization of the future service.

Outsourcing design principles: what are the standards?

Before you hand off  the project to a freelance designer you should clearly determine a needed level of quality. While comparing remote teams, pay attention to the following requirements.

  • Impressive and full portfolio
  • Recommendations from different sources
  • Certification/awards or any other proof of skills
  • Verbal, visual and written communication skills

In case of redesign and plain refreshing of a small website, it would be more profitable to hire a freelancer. But if you need a full plan and implementation, including customer development, user research, segmentation, logical sequence of user’s workflow, ideation of features, etc. it’s better to outsource a web design company.

How to outsource graphic design?

A simplified general scheme of  graphic design outsourcing will look like:

  1. Make brief research to figure out the situation in the market: check agencies’ hourly rate and quality standards.
  2. Determine the amount of work and the timeframe.  Decide between one freelancer and a team, what would be a better choice for the project?
  3. Calculate the budget.
  4. Find a team that fits your design goals and negotiate the price and amount of work.

How to hire, where to hire

First of all, try checking out the recommendations you might have from your business partners. Usually, it is the easiest way to find a trustworthy company.

If you have no recommendations on how and where you may find freelancers for your project, try checking out design outsourcing sites. Filter possible candidates and check their portfolio, customer’s feedback, and rate.

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When you choose a team that seems to be a perfect fit, make sure you will be pleased to work with them. Set up an interview. A conversation with candidates will give you a real picture of your future coworkers. Sometimes, good PR and self-presentation are much more advanced than skills. One short skype meeting will tell you more than reviews and well-written texts at outsourcing sites.

Design outsourcing process

Define what kind of design you need: mobile app, website, branding or all together?

Choose experts according to the required skills and reach out to them. Satisfied with soft and hard skills?  Arrange cooperation!

Make sure that the design documentation is correctly compiled before the whole process starts.

What about budgeting?

Design outsourcing companies vary by pricing and level of professionalism.

Thus, a  startup company hiring Middle and Junior designers can have a lower price in comparison to the huge agencies, that have been long in the market. Still, lower mean the lack of quality or creativity.

Hiring highly conquered unicorns of a Senior level and years of experience most surely would cost more.

The budget usually consists of the hourly rate of each co-worker and the amount of work to be done. Sometimes, though, it is possible to work at a fixed price.

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May outsource design services be a bad idea?

There are some cases and projects when outsourcing design services turn out to be not the best idea. So, for branding your own company it is better to keep at least one graphic designer, who would be responsible for your website, PR-campaigns, and advertising.

A full-time specialist is a great idea if your company provides development and support for a few small businesses. A designer on staff would be able to lead an ongoing process and even inspire the coworkers with own creativity.

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Bottom Line

Outsourcing design process does not have a fundamental difference from handing off coding, management or any other kind of work. To arrange the right atmosphere for the productive cooperation of your developers and hired designers we recommend  to stick to certain principles:

  1. Build trust. Honest relationships are more productive. Each professional can make a mistake.  It is important to point it out and improve the issue with due respect and politeness.
  2. Try to find win-win solutions. Full development life cycle needs to stay flexible and adaptive to stakeholder’s changing requirements.
  3. Respectful cooperation.  Dominance and authoritarian leadership creates difficulties and provokes an appeal to compromise “looser’s” decisions.
  4. Listen. Even if you want a complete fulfillment of your requirements, let designer verbalize his/her idea. Designers work with details that most people don’t care about, but details always matter. They know why and how.
  5. Maximize efficiency and quality. Outsourcing may be stressful and unpredictable at first, but you should stay concentrated on your goal and level of quality.