How to choose the right web design agency?
Published: May 2016
At the second meeting of Design Network North’s Web Interest Group, Newcastle web design company Urban River presented a talk on how to choose the right web design agency. For those who couldn’t attend a copy of his presentation is below along with the supporting notes.
- Aims and objectives
What are you looking to achieve? Increase leads and sales? Target a new audience? Or are you just unhappy with your current web design agency? Take the time to have worthwhile internal meetings, research your customers and prospects, build demographics and customer personas. Putting in the time now to define your path and ultimate destination is time very well spent.
- Choose the right person
Don’t delegate the decision maker role. Think of your business goals and involve all those that would benefit from your chosen marketing agencies work in the process. This is likely to be your own marketing staff, sales team and those responsible for business growth.
- Consider a RFP
A Request for Proposal (RFP) is certainly worth considering, particularly if you’re are looking for a marketing agency to work with on an ongoing basis, or to save you time procuring one off web design services as you need them. Put simply an RFP contains a short background about your company, the kind of work you do and how long you’ve been business. At this point it should revert back to step one to outline your aims and objectives from your website, the challenges you face and opportunities you’re trying to take advantage on.
- The Brief
As part of your RFP, you will now move into the brief. Your design requirements, functionality requests etc.
This information should be as clear as possible and we recommend approaching no more than 3 companies to pitch. Approaching too many will not only be difficult to manage internally, but if a web design agency knows they are one of six others and are putting a lot of time in developing a bespoke website for you, some will just walk away. It is also beneficial at this stage to outline realistic deadlines for project delivery, including timelines, your contact details for any questions the web design agency may have and a clear and transparent indication of your budget.
- Selection or Pitch Process?
There will be some occasions when you don’t need to run a full pitch process. This can be very time consuming for you and the agency involved. For smaller projects approaching a highly recommended marketing agency you have good chemistry with and that have a clear understand the brief may well be a better option.
Who do I choose?
Now you have a clear idea of the website deliverables, it’s time to look at the key questions you should be asking of your web design agency and the research you can proactively do to ensure they can deliver on their promises.
- Look at their expertise.
How do they market themselves? Is their blog up to date? Do they have testimonials, references, examples of their work and case studies? Review their content streams, do they dress up as experts on social media by simple re-sharing others good work, or do they have their own opinion?
- Do they outsource any of their functions?
It’s important to clarify here that good and indeed great freelancers have their place and many do a fantastic job. It is after all how many agencies are born and grow.
However, you need to know the people you ultimately decide to appoint are the ones doing the work! You bought into their expertise and confidence to deliver, not those of their supplier. If they’re outsourcing a percentage of your project time too, they’ll be no doubt be putting a financial mark up to you.
- Are they a real agency?
It’s very easy to appear to not be what you seem on line. Are they a network of independents with a virtual office and a pretty website? Go and meet them at their place of business, get a feeling for them and their culture. Do they instil you with confidence that they can deliver?
- Be Forensic
With 20000 agencies out there, many come and many go; some very quickly indeed! Look at their financials and how long they’ve been trading. This is not a dirty practice; you’re investing for the long haul and want your web design agency to be with you the whole way.
- Ask for recommendations
Now I’m not saying take to social media necessarily, ask for anything in Twitter or LinkedIn and the wolves descend. Connections of connections can comment on your posts so be wary just who is doing the name dropping, do you really know these people? It’s better to talk to your suppliers and business contacts, who are they using now or used in the past? Did they actually get results from these particular marketing companies? Chemistry is great, but without the results to back it up, it shouldn’t rule your decision making process.
If you would like to discuss your next web design project, talk to the Urban River team today on 0191 423 5688 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.