Should In-House Digital Designers Multitask or Specialize?
While seemingly a strange question on the surface, any business that decides to rely on an internal team rather than an external digital design company to produce their visual assets and other design needs will have to grapple with this question sooner or later.
There is almost a cliche that designers on internal teams are “jacks of all trades, masters of none”. To which some internal team creatives, if they know their history, may respond with the complete quote “but oftentimes better than a master of one”.
Why don’t internally-hired creatives specialize more?
In theory, there is absolutely nothing wrong with expanding your knowledge of different design fields. In fact, this is often necessary for making true innovation.
On the other hand, there is a practical limit to what one person, a designer in an internal team, in this case, can be expected to accomplish within the constraints of a small to medium business environment.
To the point, there often isn’t any time or resources to develop the skills necessary to master the now numerous areas of eCommerce that require great design. There is even less time if the business is unable or unwilling to invest in training, equipment, or compensation to make it possible and worthwhile.
As a result, designers in most internal teams have excellent cross-platform knowledge, and may be able competently perform graphic design, web design, some animation, photography, sound editing, and even scriptwriting and general content creation. But those who can perform all these areas well, are extremely rare, simply due to the demands these disciplines require and the relentless needs of a typical business environment.
Why do design agencies tend to work faster?
A digital design company, on the other hand, tends to employ more specialized creative workers, who in most cases can perform one single category of creative work to very high levels. This is possible due to the volume and variety of work in an agency and the often strictly defined responsibilities. Together, this allows agency creatives to develop a very high level of competence in a very specific area.
This isn’t impossible to do in an in-house team. But this requires resource expenditure in terms of time and training. The relative lack of variety in projects can also serve to slow an internal hire’s mastery of any single field.
What are the relative strengths and weaknesses of internal and agency creatives?
The typical in-house creative has two advantages over agency workers. First, they can live and breathe your company’s brand. This makes for true coherence in the look and message an organization projects in their digital assets. Second, they can fill any gaps in their businesses’ design needs thanks to their cross-competence.
Agency creatives aren’t generally hired for cross disciplinary competence. They are normally hired because they are extremely good at one set of skills, which the agency can use to quickly and effectively fulfill orders for multiple brands. This means they are typically faster than in-house creatives at the specific thing they were hired for. They may also possess a good knowledge of different design and marketing approaches from working with so many clients, giving them insights that may not have occurred to your internal team.
In the end, there is no real “competition” between in-house designers and those in a digital design company. Digital design agencies serve a valuable purpose, even for small businesses, as a force multiplier that allows them to produce a large volume of required assets for your business. Your internal team, on the other hand, knows your brand the best and can bridge and correct any issues faced by an agency working with you, if needed.
In the end, only you can decide if your company should have its designers specialize, or continue to multitask as is the norm. Be sure to contact 500 Designs to help with any type of creative digital design work that your team is currently unable to perform.