Freelancer or Agency?
Freelancers are usually able to do two or three functions of a design agency and have a cadre of contractors to call upon when they need elements outside of their skillset.
Freelancers usually don't have project managers so you deal directly with the designer.
When you hire an agency the costs will generally be higher as you are getting their whole team managed by a project manager dedicated to your website project.
Less overhead allows freelancers to charge less. Rates vary from as little as $25/hour to more than $180+/hour.
Keep in mind that you might pay more in the end to freelancers who charge by the hour instead of a fixed project price.
In general, prices are higher than freelancers. Rates can vary widely from $85/hour to upwards of $350+/hour.
Agencies will create an overall scope of work with a budget.
Agencies will also stick more closely to the scope of work and be much less flexible when you want changes that are not in the original budget.
The experience of freelancers can vary widely. It's best to use a freelancer that comes recommended by someone who has had personal experience with him or her.
Agencies will typically have more consistent quality although not necessarily better.
Freelancers aren’t always full-time and can be working on multiple projects at once.
Agencies generally take longer, due to multiple layers in the organization.
Freelancers tend to have experience in one or two areas and rely on colleagues to fill in the experience gaps.
Most agencies consist of five or more employees and it’s more likely you’ll find a broader range of experience across multiple specialties.
Generally, you’ll have direct communication with the person developing your website.
Agencies generally have project managers that filter all your information going back and forth.
While this method keeps track of all the information, information can get muddled as it passes along the design chain.