With more and more people searching for goods and services online, having an online presence has become an integral part of business. Whether your business is a small start-up or a large establishment, showcasing your skills and the goods and services you provide through an online platform is essential for maximising ROI.
You may already have an existing site that needs re-developing or you may wish to build a website from scratch. In either scenario, you are going to need help from a web design agency. But which one do you entrust with your brand?
Well, I’ve collated what I think are the top 11 most important aspects to consider when choosing the right web design agency for you.
1. Online portfolio
Look at the agency’s online portfolio of their previous work to see their technical capabilities first-hand.
If the agency has developed a range of exceptional websites in the past with appealing web design, unique UX and responsiveness, they are likely to deliver a similar result for you.
Even better, if their previous clients have benefitted from higher revenue as a result of increased website traffic, then chances are, you will too. Remember, it’s not just about having a pretty website, but using your website as an online platform to generate optimal business results.
Look to see if any websites designed by the agency that you’re interested in have won any awards. Yours could be next if you choose the right agency.
If you’re really impressed with a particular client’s website, see if you can get in touch with that client to ask for an agency reference.
2. Industry experience
Identify the agency’s previous clients and assess whether they are in a similar industry to you.
If the agency has previously worked with clients in your industry then that’s great – they are already familiar with the terminology and practices in your sector, so you’re at a good starting point.
But that’s not to say that being their first client in a particular industry is a disadvantage. If the agency hasn’t worked with similar clients to you before, they can approach your project from a fresh, unique and unbiased perspective.
Additionally, you may be impressed with the features and functionality of a previous client’s website (albeit in an unrelated industry) which could be applied to your own.
3. Agency website
As I’ve said, online presence is key in driving business. So, if you want to gage an insight into the success, organization and standard of the web design agency in question, explore their website.
Particularly relevant to the web design industry, a web design agency’s own website is a prime example of it’s competencies, so if the website is clean, organised and accessible, then it is likely that it is a credible agency which will deliver similar results for you and your business.
On the other hand, if the website appears unfinished, disorganized and not user-friendly, it’s probably a sign that you should explore other options.
4. Team size
You’ll come across a range of team sizes when you’re searching for a web design agency. Choosing the team size you wish you work with depends on what sort of website you wish to launch.
Remember, different agencies meet requirements.
Think about the scale of your project. If you’re seeking to develop a complex website with a large volume of content which will require a lot of maintenance during and after the project, you may lean towards choosing a large team.
However, you may opt for a smaller agency (less than 10 people) if your needs vary across different specialist departments. Many web design agencies consist of a small number of people who have specialist skills and experience. You may also choose a smaller team if you are confident in looking after your website after its launch and no longer need additional support.
Ask the agency what each department can provide, and work out whether they have suitable skills for your project.
5. The people
You need to be able to envisage yourself working with the individuals within the agency team as well as entrusting them with your brand.
If you get on with them, they’ll want to do a good job for you.
The way in which they communicate with you will play a large part in the process. Think about how they initially responded to your enquiry. Did they respond fairly quickly? Were they enthusiastic? Were they polite?
Other things to ask yourself: Do they fully understand my requirements? Do they care about my brand? Are they my kind of people? Do they seem reliable? Do they meet my standards? What will be the main basis for our communication?
In the context of the digital era, you needn’t worry about geo-location. You’ll find that many web design agencies operate globally across a variety of online platforms. So you may find yourself working with an agency overseas.
Having a logical strategy in terms of planning and developing your website will ultimately increase the likelihood of maximising your ROI and delivering high conversion rates.
An outstanding website will require thorough planning, building and testing, so a good web design agency will develop a strategy with you that will allow this to be done to a high standard.
Ask about their timescales and processes so that you can follow their progress, plan your business around these time frames and make amendments along the way.
7. Your goals
Discuss what you are ultimately hoping to achieve with your website. A good agency will work with you to gain a full understanding of your brand before they even begin building your website. What message are you trying to get across?
Let the agency help you identify your target audience and establish a unique user journey for your customers that attracts new customers and complements your brand.
8. Your standards
You must set good standards for your website, otherwise you are likely to damage your sales. More than 50% of Google searches are now done on mobile phones, so if your website isn’t responsive to mobile devices, then you’re going to lose out big time.
Ensure that your website is going to be accessible, visually attractive, user-friendly and speedy, and of course, responsive across ALL devices.
Not only should the agency strive to meet your requirements, but even better if they’re successful in exceeding your expectations.
Make sure you review your finances early on. Setting yourself a budget will give you a more realistic idea of what you can achieve with your website and what agency you should go for.
Are you getting your money’s worth?
Make sure you know what you are actually paying for. Is the agency going to upload your content for you or will you have to do it yourself? Be sure to have a clear understanding of how much you will have to do and how much your agency will manage.
10. Marketing and branding
Once your website is up, you need to generate traffic to your site so everyone can see how pretty it looks.
Find out if the agency will provide online marketing and offline branding for your business. Agencies that offer these services tend to deliver a unified and consistent result because each aspect has been covered under the same roof.
Read the agency’s terms and conditions and gain a clear understanding of your intellectual property rights to your site upon completion before making your decision. You’ll probably be required to pay a deposit at first, but you should also find out about any other additional fees you may need to contribute and when you’ll be expected to pay.
So hopefully now you’ve whittled it down to your top 3 or 4 agencies… run through these 11 points when finalizing your decision.
When you approach your agency of choice, be sure to explain the concept of your business, what you’re hoping to achieve, with what budget and in what timescale so the agency can provide you with a realistic and accurate response.