It’s not usually long into a meeting with a new prospect before I get asked something like this and I always find it an interesting question.
It’s probably because within digital industries like web design, I know that the size of the team is not a reflection of much else. This is due to the fact that most web agencies utilise freelance talent in addition to in-house talent.
Some of the most talented designers, developers and SEO’ers I’ve ever met prefer to work on a freelance basis. This means that if we want to deliver the best work for our clients, we will have to look to the freelancer community.
With this in mind, it’s easy to see that when it comes to digital agencies, size isn’t everything.
Why you want to know how big it is
My belief is that it’s reassurance.
You want to know how big we are because if I tell you we have an in-house team of 100+ staff, you will feel secure in the knowledge that:
a. We’re not going anywhere fast
b. We MUST be good
The problem with these assumptions, especially the latter, is that bigger doesn’t mean better.
Bigger isn’t better
I’ve visited web agencies in the past who had hundreds of low-skilled staff that were outputting poor quality work en-masse. One of which is no longer in business.
Similarly, I know plenty of web design agencies with no more than 2-3 full-time members of staff who are turning over £millions and delivering some of the best web sites in the industry.
The problem with being small
A small web design company will most likely be operating in one of two ways:
- Trying to deliver everything themselves, using the small amount of internal resources they have
- Filling the gaps in their expertise/resources with additional freelance talent
Both of these styles have their challenges.
A web design company that takes on more than it can handle (either in complexity or volume), will quickly see standards drop and turnaround times grow. It’s simply not possible to drain a small team of energy in areas they don’t have experience and expect good work.
For the agencies that utilise freelancers, the problems are not so big but still exist.
Despite modern technology making it much easier than it ever has been, managing a remote team of freelance talent is not as straightforward as talking to your colleagues who are sat next to you.
If the agency-freelancer relationship is a new one, then understanding how each other work can take a little time to get right.
Size doesn’t matter
If a large agency could hire a load of idiots and a small agency could have a vast network of outstanding freelancers, it’s easy to see why size shouldn’t be a priority when looking for your next web design company.
So… How big is ours?
Like any other business, the number of full-time employees fluctuates but we’re usually between 2 – 6 full-time plus any number of additional freelancers.
At the time of writing our agency has 3 full-time staff and 7 additional freelancers which we use on a regular basis.