Should I do UI/UX in-house or outsource? When to look for expert help


March 30th, 2023, posted in for_founders
by Saiona

UI/UX is a big part of building SaaS products. Not just in terms of delivering unique user experiences, but also as a way to define product requirements before investing further in software development. With so much depending on getting UI/UX right, it's only natural to ask yourself: is it better to hire in-house or should I look for expert help?


Sometimes, answering a question with a question can give you some unexpected insight. So here are 5 key questions to ask yourself before committing to either option. 


1. Do you plan to grow your UI/UX team?

If you`re reading this, you`re probably thinking: “I just want to hire an expert to design the screens for my app. Why do I need an entire team?” The short-term answer is, you don`t. However, UI/UX is a highly competitive field. UI/UX experts need to keep up with industry trends, innovations and know-how. By hiring your first in-house UX Designer you are bringing a new area of expertise in your company. If you don't nurture this expertise, the person you hired will be unable to brainstorm with like-minded experts, keep track of new developments and grow professionally. In the end, they might even choose to leave the company and you will need to start the recruitment process all over again.


If you`re considering hiring an in-house designer you need to think long-term. Is this something you plan to invest in? If you`re a small team building their first MVP, outsourcing your UI/UX efforts might be a better fit. Finding a design partner who can bring to the table a team of experts accustomed to working together can cut down the cost of building such a team yourself. At least until you`re ready to. 

2. What type of project will the UI/UX expert(s) be working on? In what stage is the project?

Are you building a website or an application? Are you planning to release an MVP and then wait for further funding or traction? Or do you have an already established product which needs continuous updates and UI/UX improvements? Does your business rely on heavy branded elements or are you just beginning to define your visual identity?


The decision to hire in-house or outsource should emerge naturally from the requirements of your project and the stage your business is in. Unless your business is mature enough and the scope of work large enough to require a dedicated designer, hiring in-house can actually do more harm than good. Even considering that UI/UX is not a one-time thing and your application might require tweaks, you can still look at the option of partnering long-term with a UI UX design services company. This allows you to work incrementally with the same team over a long period of time and even take breaks when needed.        

3. Do you foresee a constant UI/UX workload?

This ties in with the previous question. For most companies, UI/UX work comes in waves, usually after a major release or as a result of redesign needs. One of the trickiest parts is making sure your SaaS product is mature enough to generate a constant workload. Can you justify the investment in a UI/UX Designer? What happens when the project ends? 


One of the biggest advantages of hiring an in-house designer is having someone who focuses solely on your application, audience and industry day-in, day-out. This works great if you have a niched product which requires building expertise or if you are planning continuous UI/UX improvements. However, this advantage can quickly become a disadvantage if there is a lack of consistent work.

4. What is your budget?

User experience talent is in high demand and salary expectations reflect this. This is partly because experts in this field have a wide range of skills, including:

  • prototyping and interaction design
  • user research
  • UI design
  • business analysis (wireframing and specs)

Hiring an expert in-house can provide long-term value and allow you to incorporate additional skills into your company, however it is costly. While it might seem cheaper to pay a monthly salary than to hire a UI UX design services company, the truth is hiring in-house can be even more expensive - you also need to consider social benefits, training, vacation, sick leave and necessary equipment.    

5. How much expertise does your project require? 

As previously mentioned, an in-house UX Designer can focus on your application and industry and specialize in them as part of their job. However, there are certain disadvantages to taking a very narrow approach and things you might be missing on. On the other hand, by outsourcing UI/UX you can work with people who have seen a large number of applications from various industries. This allows them to come up with unexpected ideas or UX solutions you might have not previously considered. By outsourcing UI/UX to a specialized company, you will gain the combined expertise of UI/UX designers, business analysts and developers who can brainstorm, give feedback and work together to come up with the best solutions.   

6. Are you working in stealth mode or is privacy a big concern for you? 

A common concern for businesses, especially stealth start-ups, is that designers could leak some confidential data or developments to the company’s competitors. Hiring an in-house specialist can eliminate the risk of data leakage. However, if privacy is your only concern, hiring an in-house specialist might be overkill. 


Before starting work with a UI/UX design services agency, discuss the intellectual property rights for all the creative work and make sure to sign an NDA agreement to eliminate any risk. Working with a design services provider means you can tap into a pool of people that have an obligation to be the best of their profession. Work ethics included.   

Things to keep in mind when hiring an in-house UI/UX Designer: 

  • Hiring an in-house UI/UX Designer demands long-term thinking. If you`re not planning on investing in this area of expertise, for example by growing the UI/UX team, then it's better to outsource.
  • You have the advantage of someone who focuses solely on your application, audience and industry day-in, day-out, but they need a constant workload.  
  • Hiring in-house works best for long-term projects with a large scope of work and for businesses mature enough to attract and retain a specialist.

Things to keep in mind when hiring a UI/UX design services company:

  • Outsourcing your UI/UX efforts can help you cut down on the costs of finding and keeping specialists. The people you hire already work in a team of professionals who are required to be the best at what they do. Work ethics included. 
  • Good fit for different types of projects and companies with varying workloads.
  • They have seen a large number of applications from various industries and can bring new ideas to the table (the “outsider” view advantage).
  • Partnering long-term with a UI/UX design services company you trust can be a great alternative to bringing this new area of expertise into your company. 

Ready to start your UI/UX journey with a company that understands? Check out some of the UI/UX services we offer and drop us a line about your project.  


UX assessment.png



About the author


I play with Figma and words. UI designer by day, copywriter by background. I enjoy creating worlds in which people feel connected. Either as user experiences or as poetry and short stories. I am forever fascinated by human creativity.

See more articles by Saiona