Boutique vs. big agency: Which is better for your design needs?

Design team working together holding puzzle pieces
Design team working together

You won’t believe the hustle we go through with my lean team. Every time we take on a project, I gotta figure out the tools we need and estimate how long it’ll take us to finish. It’s a crazy juggling act!

Since we’re a small crew, there’s no time for goofing around. Every member has to stay on their toes and keep their hands busy. We can’t afford to waste a single second or make a single mistake.

One time, we got this massive video project and man, it was a whole new ball game for us! We had everyone on deck, but some things slipped through the cracks. We managed to wrap it up, but looking back, I wish we had a bigger team. 

Lesson learned!

Now, let’s talk about design projects. You know, stuff like creating a logo or designing a website. It’s crucial to choose the right team for the job. That’s where boutique agencies and big agencies come into play.

Each option has its own pros and cons, so let’s dig in and see which one suits you better. Ready? Let’s go!

Small vs big design agencies

Boutique agencies are small, specialized firms that focus on specific industries or design areas. They have a tight-knit team of experts who rock at what they do.

These agencies offer a personal touch, giving you direct access to the designers and a close working relationship throughout your project. They really value quality over quantity and provide a collaborative experience.

On the flip side, big agencies are larger firms with more services and a bigger team. They usually have tons of resources, a wide range of clients, and can handle large-scale projects.

Big agencies often have well-established processes that make project management smooth and delivery efficient. They might even have a killer reputation and a portfolio of big-name clients.

Design team working together discussion meeting charts
A well managed team can accomplish a lot.

5 Factors to consider in choosing an agency

To figure out which option is right for your design needs, let’s consider a few factors:

Project scope and complexity

If you need specialized expertise or a customized approach, a boutique agency might be your best bet. With their smaller teams, they can focus on the nitty-gritty details and really get what you’re looking for.

But if you have a big project with lots of moving parts and need plenty of resources, a big agency could handle the complexity better.


Money matters! Boutique agencies often offer more flexibility when it comes to pricing. They have lower overhead costs, which means they can give you tailored solutions that fit your budget without compromising quality.

On the other hand, big agencies might have higher costs due to their larger infrastructure and expenses. If you’re engaging with a famous agency, their brand value might also be calculated in the cost.

designer on desk with many paper vs agile web design team
You need a web design team that can work fast with less paperwork and roadblocks.


If time is of the essence, big agencies could be the way to go. They have the capacity to allocate more resources to meet tight deadlines. Their bigger teams and established processes can lead to quicker turnaround times.

However, boutique agencies can also be responsive and agile, especially when they’re solely focused on your project.

Collaboration and communication

Think about how much collaboration and communication you want during your project. Boutique agencies offer a more personal experience, where you can directly chat with the designers and be involved in the process.

If you like a hands-on approach, this could be your jam.

Big agencies might have more layers of communication and project management, so you may have less direct interaction with the designers.

Industry expertise

Consider the specific expertise you need. Boutique agencies often specialize in specific industries or design areas, which means they have a deep understanding of your niche. This can lead to tailored and effective design solutions.

On the other hand, big agencies might have a broader range of skills and experience across various industries, which is great if your project spans different sectors or markets.

Design team working together with superhero capes flying
Soar to new heights with a professional design team.

It depends on where you are in your customer journey

At the end of the day, the choice between a boutique agency and a big agency depends on your unique needs, preferences, and constraints. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to multiple agencies, ask for proposals, and review their portfolios. It’s all about finding the agency that aligns with your design goals.

You can also try an out-of-the-box approach like an on-demand design service.

Do your research, weigh your options, and make an informed decision. Good luck finding the perfect fit for your design needs!

FREE 12-Month
Content Calendar

Download our Content Calendar for Web Agencies to keep your social media channels updated.

Download the template

Brand Guideline Example

Download our Brand Guideline Example to get a kickstart on your branding and visual identity

About - Deer Designer

Download your guide!

Design Brief Template

Download our Design Brief Template to find out how to provide a clear and comprehensive brief.

Download the template

Partner Program

Welcome to our Deer Partner Program

Please fill in the form