UX Agencies in San Francisco – When the Price Is Totally Worth It

It’s a tale as old as time; the underdog takes on a formidable giant. David and Goliath perfectly depicted the story, which has been retold in many formats and various ways. Everyone loves an underdog story, after all. Much like in storytelling, the world of design agencies is filled with Davids (creative boutique advertising agencies) and Goliaths (large, well-established companies).

While David triumphed over Goliath, how do things play out in the design world? Can the San Francisco UX agencies prosper using their faster, more personable, more risk-taking nature, or do the large design organizations hold power with their recognizable notoriety, years of experience, and advertising prowess?

It turns out that upon close examination, it would seem that the San Francisco-based “Davids” continue to have the leading edge on the big corporate “Goliaths.” So why is that the case?

 More Risk, More Rewards 

Companies in the market for UX design are typically seeking to be different and to stand out. That means they are looking for some out-of-the-box, creative thinking in their site’s design. The large design companies are well-oiled, automated machines that crank out design projects like a production line. The problem is that they have a lot of regulations and rules, which they are forced to apply to all projects they manifest with relative uniformity. This system works well for them, and the staff is used to approaching projects in a particular manner.

However, small San Francisco design agencies are not bound by many of these suffocating restrictions. Therefore their approach is allowed to be more flexible, innovative, and customized to the client’s needs. The level of personalization offered by small UX agencies is unrivaled by large design firms. Smaller agencies work directly with clients, so they can better grasp the nuances and details of what the clients want.

Anyone can repeat a formulaic strategy, one that has been seen over and over again. What sets San Francisco UX agencies apart is their drive for innovation and better, fresher outlooks, as well as their hands-on, involved approach to dealing with clients. It is for this reason that these agencies can leverage new techniques that are constantly transforming the landscape of contemporary advertising.

This is an essential aspect of San Francisco agencies to consider when you are running a business that needs to undergo a revamp or an update to its site. If the Titanic is going down, you don’t need a mainstream cruiseliner to show up for help; you need speedboats. In that sense working with a small UX, the firm makes sense because they can offer the speed, attention, and flexibility that your project needs on time, rather than just being bogged down by some formal process to get to it.

Because San Francisco UX companies are more apt to take risks, get creative, and be more flexible, they turn out to serve the needs of their clients in a manner that is better than what a big design conglomerate can offer.

Higher Specialization

Even if you are a customer aware of an agency’s workload, their other customers are not your concern. Therefore, you want the company that is doing work on your projects to work for you instead of sweeping your project under the run in favor of bigger, more profitable clients. You are the customer, so you should be and feel like a priority.

In that sense, San Francisco UX companies are a fantastic choice. Your company contact is the person typically in charge of your project rather than a middleman, and you are assured that since the company is not drowning in assignments, they can grant each one a greater level of attention. Beyond that, your point of contact will get to know you, your business, and your project on a very detailed level. They will spearhead and oversee your project, keeping close contact with you throughout its progress.

Conversely, a large design company will pass your project to various stages of the design process to different departments, putting it together piecemeal rather than in a holistic fashion. Not only does that mean that your design project will constantly shift to a new person who may not have a good grasp on what you want or need, but you will essentially be just a number in the grand scheme of their busy schedule. A San Francisco UX agency will have staff dedicated to seeing your project through from beginning to end.

Superior Communication

The needs of your business are vital since they are the only way to ensure that you reach your business goals. To stay aligned with those goals, you must communicate regularly with the design team or a team representative. The issue with that when working with large design firms is that there is simply no mechanism for the type of communication that you, as a concerned business owner, would require.

With a stocked schedule and many deadlines occupying the team’s time, it is unlikely that anyone at a large UX company will have the time to attend to your business’s specific needs. However, in San Francisco UX firms, there is a point of contact who oversees your project, keeps you updated on progress, and reaches out if the design team comes across any questions. If your company prefers better communication levels with staff members intimately familiar with your needs, timelines, and goals, a San Francisco UX firm is undoubtedly a better choice.

Higher Quality Output

To state the obvious, larger design companies employ a larger staff. That means their operating expenses are higher, the software used is more “detoxified,” and the vastness of the experienced team translates into higher consumer prices. From a financial standpoint, many smaller companies who need design work done end up having to shell out far more money than they can reasonably budget for such projects. But at a UX agency in San Francisco, this business can offer far better deals.

To illustrate this against some hard numbers, research indicates that 60% of companies with less than 51 employees average hourly rates of $101 to $200/hr. Employees over 51 staff members charge between $201 and $500/hr instead. The higher costs do not translate into higher quality work. Both large design companies and smaller San Francisco UX agencies hire very talented designers, but due to lower operating costs, they can deliver a product of comparable quality for just a fraction of the cost.

Therefore, it’s not just smaller companies on budgets that choose to have their designs done by the best design agencies in San Francisco. Still, more prominent companies that want a quality product without paying far too much (in their estimation) for the work make use of their services.

Distinct Corporate Culture

Is it only the quality of the final output that matters from a design company, or does corporate culture also tend to be an essential factor? As it turns out, corporate culture is a massively important factor because, in big design firms, a lot tends to get lost in a stringent set of regulations. In contrast, smaller San Francisco UX firms retain a level of vision and flexibility.

Communicating with a San Francisco agency, a factor that is more challenging to achieve in communicating with a bigger design company, allows for the more free exchange of ideas, which in turn breeds higher levels of creativity and visionary alignment between the client and the designer. A San Francisco UX agency’s culture inspires this kind of interaction, finding that it breeds greater levels of creativity.

This isn’t to say that there aren’t creative visionaries working for big design firms, as that is most certainly the case. But the culture of such a company is different in that the minutiae of paperwork, regulation, and departmental individualism could separate the creative blend in the company into a more fragmented divide, which, in turn, is detrimental to the most influential creative influences.

A large company has a lot of work on its plate, so the turnover of deliverables becomes the primary goal. Instead of indulging a client’s creative vision and fusing it with their own, a large company often has little choice but to Sheppard the client with a safe and, at times, ordinary design. In a world where a business is looking to stand out, the last thing any business needs is to be expected.

Proven Results And Success

Hiring a large company assures you have a large cast of personnel, all experts in their field. But have these company members been part of building up the firm’s successful history and portfolio? That is very unlikely. Chances are you are paying for the name and reputation built on the work of those people who will never even work on or know about your project. Many of those involved won’t have much connection to your campaign or vision.

However, a smaller San Francisco UX company has had most of its current staff roster build the company’s success, which means that the results you see in samples are those produced by that very team. There are no other departments, no one to pass the work off to, and nothing to hide regarding historical influence. The projects that drew you to this firm in the past were handled by the team you are reaching out to work with.

 Wrapping Up

 This, of course, by no means implies that large design companies are a bad choice, and for some businesses, that might even be an ideal choice. Still, as the above reasons explain, there are particular aspects of San Francisco UX companies that tend to appeal to those companies who are looking for design projects with a creative, effective, and budget-conscious approach. So when looking for an agency to handle your next design project, just remember that every dollar spent is worth it in its returns.