Freelancer vs. Agency for App Development: Pros and Cons

Freelancer vs. Agency for App Development: Pros and Cons

App Development Landscape

Nor Newman's portrait
Nor Newman
Chief Executive Officer
Freelancer vs. Agency for App Development: Pros and Cons

Are you an entrepreneur or a C-level executive? You've meticulously planned your product or service, possibly even launched your startup. Now, the pivotal decision of design and development looms. The question arises: Do you place your trust in a freelancer or an agency team?

This article is tailored to guide individuals like you in making an informed decision. I'll delve into the advantages and disadvantages of each delegation option to assist you in this crucial choice.

Freelancers in App Development: Yes or No?

Freelancers are self-employed workers who offer their services to clients on a project-by-project basis. They can work from anywhere in the world, and they set their own rates and hours.

There are many websites and platforms where you can find freelance app developers, such as Upwork, Fiverr, and You can also search for freelance app developers on social media or through online job boards. If you are looking for a cost-effective and flexible solution, then hiring a freelancer may be a good option for you. However, it is important to be aware of the potential risks involved before making a decision.

Pros of Hiring a Freelancer for App Development

Before arriving at a definitive decision regarding your app development strategy, I recommend a thoughtful examination of the pros that each option presents. Delving into the advantages provides a comprehensive understanding of the potential benefits, setting the stage for a well-informed choice.

a) Price

You only pay for the specific work needed. Freelancers often come with lower hourly rates compared to agencies. If you're in need of design services, with freelancers, you're essentially paying solely for the design work. Freelancers commonly operate independently without a team, mitigating the likelihood of upselling, a scenario more common in agency setups. This means you get a straightforward transaction focused on the specific service you require, without additional layers or costs that might arise in an agency environment.

b) Quick Project Kick-Off

Freelancers can often start working on your project promptly. Without the bureaucratic processes of larger agencies, you can initiate the development phase swiftly, saving valuable time. Hence, if you find bureaucracy unappealing, freelancing could be the ideal fit for you. Frequently, freelancers operate without extensive contracts and convoluted conditions, offering a more straightforward and flexible working arrangement.

с) One-on-One Communication

This aspect can be a double-edged sword. For those who appreciate direct communication without the intermediary of project managers, it's undoubtedly a positive attribute. Nonetheless, it's crucial to acknowledge that freelancers might not possess the same level of English fluency as professional project managers, potentially posing a language barrier that requires careful consideration.

d) Adaptability to Small-Scale Projects

Freelancers are often more willing to take on smaller projects. On the flip side, bigger companies usually go for agencies. Agencies have the structure and skills needed for large projects, which can be a bit too much for freelancers to handle. So, it really depends on the size of your project – freelancers are the go-to for smaller ones, while agencies are better for the big leagues.

Сons of Hiring a Freelancer for App Development

When it comes to the drawbacks, they seem to outweigh the advantages a bit. In a nutshell: freelancers might not be the best fit for those seeking comprehensive services like branding, design, and development – locating individual freelancers for each of these tasks can be a time-consuming process. Now, let's delve deeper into these disadvantages.

a) Dependency on Individual Skills

Relying solely on the skills of a single freelancer can pose a risk. If that individual encounters challenges or faces unexpected delays, it might lead to disruptions in the project timeline and potentially impact its success. In contrast, when opting for an agency, you have the advantage of selecting the expertise level that suits your needs. Whether it's a junior, middle, or senior specialist, agencies offer a tiered approach to accommodate varying project requirements. Additionally, there's the assurance that the design conceptualized by one professional within the agency can seamlessly be implemented by another developer. This is attributed to the collaborative synergy within agency teams, where everyone is on the same page regarding project feasibility and capabilities.

b) Scalability Issues

Freelancers may struggle to scale up quickly if the project requirements expand. This could result in delays or a compromise in the quality of work. Another crucial point to note is that freelancers typically operate solo or within a small team, unlike agencies that boast a diverse pool of specialists. In an agency setting, having other experts readily available provides a valuable resource for seeking advice and insights.

с) Lack of Structured Processes

Freelancers may not always follow the structured processes that agencies implement. This lack of formal procedures can lead to inconsistencies in project management and delivery. Indeed, as highlighted earlier, the choice between an agency and freelancers boils down to your specific needs. If a structured contract, comprehensive team support, and varied expertise levels are essential, agencies prove to be the apt choice. On the flip side, if you're averse to contracts, seeking a quick solution for a short-term task, and only require the expertise of a single individual, freelancers might be the more fitting option for you.

d) Potential Communication Challenges

Language barriers or differences in communication styles may arise, particularly if the freelancer is located in a different region. If a high level of English proficiency is a priority for you, finding a freelancer with such language skills might pose a challenge.

e) Reliability and Accountability Concerns

The absence of a formal structure can sometimes result in issues related to reliability and accountability. Freelancers may face challenges in meeting deadlines or providing consistent communication. Certainly, agencies typically adhere to a structured framework, specifying response times and scheduling regular calls as part of their operational routine. On the other hand, freelancers tend to operate in a less rigid structure, where communication timelines and frequency may vary. This difference in structure can influence the expectations around responsiveness and communication consistency, making it an important consideration when deciding between an agency and freelancers for your app development needs.

I've put together an in-depth table outlining the pros and cons of freelancing below. This resource should give you a more comprehensive understanding of this option.

Pros and Cons of Hiring a Freelancer for App Development

Use Cases or When to Hire a Freelancer

There are specific scenarios where opting for a freelancer is the preferred choice. These often involve shorter projects, specialized expertise, or seeking professional advice. I've provided a more detailed breakdown of each use case below.

a) Short-Term Projects & Prototypes

Freelancers offer quick turnaround times and flexibility for short-term assignments. Imagine you have a small project that's well-defined and doesn't need a full-time developer or an entire agency. Freelancers are perfect for those situations.

b) Specialized Advice

Freelancers with niche expertise can step in to provide targeted recommendations and solutions. This could range from consulting on a specific technology choice for your app development to offering strategic guidance on branding or marketing initiatives. Moreover, it's incredibly efficient for both the freelancer and your business.

Agency in App Development: Yes or No?

App development agencies are companies specializing in creating mobile applications. They typically house teams of designers, developers, project managers, and quality assurance specialists, offering a comprehensive range of services under one roof. Agencies are frequently discoverable on platforms such as Clutch, TechBehemoths, and various other listing sites.

Pros of Hiring an Agency for App Development

Agencies offer numerous benefits, with delegation being a key advantage. You won't have to scout for multiple freelancers; the agency provides a team with the expertise required to handle your project efficiently. However, similar to working with freelancers, your feedback is crucial. The difference lies in having a project manager who oversees the team, providing a centralized point of control. Now, let's delve into more pros below.

a) Comprehensive Skill Sets

Agencies bring together a diverse team of experts, each specialized in different aspects of app development. This comprehensive skill set ensures that your project is handled by professionals with expertise in various crucial areas. Also, agencies handle everything from concept and design to development, testing, and launch, reducing your workload. Hence, if you're looking for an "all-in-one" solution, opting for an agency is the way to go, saving you valuable time in the process.

b) Scalability

Agencies can easily scale their resources based on project requirements. Whether it's increasing the development team or adding more designers, agencies offer flexibility for projects of varying sizes. Effecting changes is often more challenging with a freelancer compared to an agency, given that agencies typically have a team at their disposal. This team, working collaboratively, can offer diverse perspectives and brainstorm innovative solutions for your business. For instance, at Movadex, we not only assisted a client with the design and development of elite co-working spaces but also brought our unique perspective as the target audience. This resulted in us pitching and implementing a product that resonated with users and is currently in demand.

c) Professional Communication

Agencies typically have dedicated project managers who oversee the development process, ensuring effective communication, addressing challenges promptly, and keeping the project on track. Moreover, a standout characteristic that differentiates us from other freelancers is our proficiency in English. You can confidently articulate your ideas in simple English, as our project manager possesses a high level of language proficiency, ensuring professional understanding and communication.

d) Structured Processes

Agencies often follow well-defined and structured processes for project management, ensuring timelines are met, and tasks are executed efficiently. Frequently, agencies provide a detailed contract outlining sprint specifics, communication channels, and onboarding protocols. In our onboarding documentation, for instance, we cover everything from the basics, such as setting comments in Figma and navigating tasks in Jira, to more comprehensive aspects like addressing force majeure situations and adhering to transparent communication rules from our end.

Сons of Hiring an Agency for App Development

Agencies do come with drawbacks, mostly centered around pricing. This is because freelancers often come at a lower cost, attributed to their narrower skill set.

a) Higher Costs

Engaging an agency can be more expensive than hiring individual freelancers. Agencies often come with overhead costs, including administrative expenses and team salaries, which may result in higher overall project costs.

b) Reduced Direct Involvement

You relinquish some control over project decisions and communication as the agency manages the process. Adapting quickly to changing needs might be less flexible than with freelancers.

c) Standardized Approach

Agencies might have established processes and methodologies that may not fully adapt to your project's unique needs or innovative ideas. As an illustration, this could be tied to the agency's adherence to a primary design tool like Figma. Yet, at Movadex, for instance, we go beyond mere tools and take the time to explain why a certain approach might be more effective or actively listen to our client's preferences.

I've put together an in-depth table outlining the pros and cons of agency below. This resource should give you a more comprehensive understanding of this option.

Pros and Cons of Hiring an Agency for App Development

Use Cases or When to Hire an Agency

Similar to freelancers, there are instances where opting for agencies proves to be a significantly superior solution.

a) Complex Projects

Agencies bring together specialists across various domains, ensuring the ability to handle complexity and scale efficiently. Take Movadex, for instance – we boast a dedicated team of designers, developers, and testers. This ensures a complete delegation of tasks, allowing you to concentrate on more critical aspects of your project.

Take, for instance, our client TasteBuds, for whom we provided a comprehensive range of services, from branding to development. TasteBuds functions as a culinary social media platform, designed to elevate culinary skills and surprise loved ones with culinary creations.

Culinary (Lifestyle) App Development

b) Strategic Consultation

Agencies frequently offer valuable insights, leveraging their experience to provide strategic advice for project success. For instance, instead of developing a recipe platform for a broad audience, including those uninterested in cooking, we at TasteBuds narrowed our focus to a specific group – individuals passionate about cooking who want to share their recipes with like-minded enthusiasts. This intentional approach eliminates generic recipes like "don't know how to cook and don't like to cook? Cook this scrambled egg!" The goal was to foster a community of people with shared culinary interests, reflecting a vertical positioning strategy.

Decision-Making Factors: Choosing Between Freelancers or an Agency for App Development

Freelancer vs. Agency for App Development

In conclusion, choosing between a freelancer and an agency for mobile app development involves a careful evaluation of various factors. Factors such as the app's scope, timeline, budget, and internal resources play a pivotal role in making an informed decision.

If the resources and budget allow, opting for an agency often results in higher-quality work within a shorter timeframe, coupled with the added advantage of post-release support. Conversely, when operating within tight budget constraints and a limited timeline, hiring an individual freelancer may prove to be the more suitable choice.

App Development Agency

If you have reached a decision or are still contemplating whether to choose an agency, there's no need to worry. Feel free to reach out to us for a complimentary consultation, during which we'll provide you with a clear and direct answer about whether it's more suitable for your tasks and budget to engage a freelancer or an agency.

If you opt for an agency, Movadex stands ready to offer tailored app development services for startup businesses. With 7 years of experience and a proven track record of successfully delivering over 200 projects across various sectors—including e-commerce, sustainability, fintech, aviation, KYC, and healthcare—we specialize in transforming digital products and services. Our seasoned team will seamlessly guide you from requirements to deployment, providing ongoing support throughout the process.