It’s not always best to go with the company who tells you what you want to hear or gives you the cheapest price.
A well designed and developed website can support your business by driving leads, informing potential clients, generating sales and raising brand awareness.
So when it comes to choosing a website agency to create your new digital platform, it’s important to pick the right team.
Allow yourself time (as much as your timeframe will allow) and research who is going to be the right fit for you.
We’ve listed below some points to keep in mind when choosing your agency to make a tough decision a little easier.
Make a list of your website requirements
Think about what your wants and needs are for the project before searching for an agency.
List out the features and functionality you might require for the site. For example, an eCommerce platform (shop), a form process, videos or a portfolio page etc.
Goals & Targets
What are your goals and how can your new site help you to achieve these? For example, the goal might be to generate leads through the website, this could be aided by including a subscribers form or a prominent contact us area that is visible across the site.
Keep your goals in mind as your agency will be able to steer the functionality of the site to achieve this.
Likes & Dislikes
Consider your likes and dislikes when it comes to both design and functionality of websites. Have a look at your industry competitors, brands that you are familiar with and websites you use often. Then list out what you like and don’t like about the sites and what you think would or would not fit with your brand.
Whilst you might not have any idea of how much a website will cost, have a price range in mind about what you can afford and be transparent with it with your potential partner i.e. between £10k-£15k. A good agency will be able to explain what goals & functionality is achievable within your price range and you will receive quotes that are within your budget.
Have a timeframe & deadline for the project in mind as this will be useful when choosing an agency. Mainly because if you require your website to be live within 6 weeks, you’ll need an agency who has the availability to get started on your project right away.
Search for nationwide & local web agencies
Multinational or local?
Most web agencies have had the ability to work long-distance for years but with recent worldwide events that advised us to work remotely, it’s never been easier to communicate with people across county or country.
Yes, there is a benefit to working locally, not only due to face to face meetings but your agency will know the local market. However, if you are looking for an agency who is industry-specific or has expertise in a certain area, an agency further afield may be better suited to your needs.
Does the size of the agency matter?
Larger companies who have worked with big brands are expected to have an impressive pitch however they are more likely to have a rigid structure on how they process a website build. They also may suffer from less freedom on creative projects as big brands often come with their own in house marketing to direct the project. Your smaller project may also be handed to a junior or lesser experience staff member due to its size.
Don’t discount smaller or lesser-known agencies as they often come with a greater level of creative freedom & project flexibility. However, if you require multiple services or have a larger project check the smaller agencies have the staff power to complete such an involved project.
Look at the agency’s portfolio & reviews
Browsing an agency’s portfolio and back catalogue is a great way to see their creativity, capabilities and experience. After looking at the initial design of the websites, think about if their sites are mobile-friendly, easy to use and intuitive. Do any of the websites have anything you listed down in your features and functionality list? Also, look at website projects that might be a similar size to your own or even in the same industry as your business.
Do their websites look the same or similar? A sign of a less creative agency is one that recycles the same design or animations.
Case studies & client testimonials
Reviews and testimonials are a good way to not only see that your potential agency has happy clients but they also often give an insight into the level of customer service they offer and how they correspond with their clients too. Agencies often highlight testimonials on their website and you can often find web reviews on Google.
Are they specialists in the field you need?
How long has your potential partner agency been creating web sites? Look into their ‘about us’ and ‘services’ as this will tell you if they are specialists in a particular field or if they are offering multi-services. If they specialise in what you require that’s a good sign, however, if they are focussed on services you may not need to utilise such as social media management or PPC (pay per click) they might not be the right agency for you.
Although the all singing and all dancing, full-service agencies can look very tempting, check to see if the agency handles all their multiple services in house. Often these additional services such as SEO can often be outsourced without your knowledge. There can be a benefit to outsourcing a service and having an expert in the field deal with your project however transparency is key.
Have they worked in your industry before?
After looking at the agency’s portfolio you will be able to see their client base and know if they have worked with businesses in your industry. This understanding of your target market, internal processes and requirements can be a huge asset when starting a new web project because the agency will already have an idea of your goals and needs.
If the agency has worked in a variety of industries this can show flexibility and a greater understanding of business problems and processes in different areas. They may also come at your project with a unique point of view if they are not familiar with the industry.
Approach & personality
You often won’t find out if an agency’s approach is right for you until you have a conversation with them about your project. However, there are some small clues you can look out for when enquiring, like how did they deal with your initial inquiry and were they informative and timely in their response?
Meet the team
If possible (and dependent on the size of your project) it’s very important to meet the team where possible, whether it be during the initial pitch or via a video call when discussing the project. You are going to be working with your agency for a period of time so it’s crucial that you have an understanding and can communicate and work well together.
Content management system & training
A content management system (CMS) is the back end of a website where you can update content without needing a great amount of technical knowledge. It will allow you to update, text, images and video content without the need for a developer to code anything.
When searching for website agencies it’s important to know what CMS they are offering to build your site on and if this comes with training. Training should include how to log in, add users and add, edit & delete all types of content, so you can manage your web presence on a daily basis.
What is included
As well as CMS training there are also other costs/services that come with creating a new website that you may need to be aware of. For example, do you own a domain name (website address) already or do you require the agency to purchase one? Will you host the website with the agency and how much will this cost yearly? Will the new site be optimized for SEO or do they provide SEO optimisation as an additional service?
It’s also essential to understand the support/maintenance packages the agency provides once your site has gone live. Not only the cost but also what customer service support you can expect to receive for updates and questions. Do they have mandatory support contracts or do they offer an ad-hoc service?
Choosing an agency can be a daunting task but by keeping the above points in mind, this can help sieve out the marketing and tech jargon from your requirements.
If you request quotes from four different agencies but one out of the four companies say the project will cost X amount less and or take X amount less time, ask them why.
It’s not always best to go with the company who tells you what you want to hear or gives you the cheapest price. But often the company that asks the most questions to understand your needs is the one who will be able to deliver the best finished product.
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