Create a List of Website Needs & Goals
Before you begin searching for the right agency, it helps to create a list of website needs and goals first. This way, you’ll have an idea of what your website should do, how it should look, etc. In fact, a web design agency will ask you these same questions, so be prepared with some answers ahead of time.
Do you want your website to generate leads, collect payments (membership/subscription sites)? Consider what you’d like the site to accomplish. Next, what features will be needed to support your site and achieve your goals? When do you need the site done? What is the timeframe to complete the site and get it ready?
Have a clear idea of what you need and want the site to do, then you’ll be ready to reach ou
Search for Web Design Agencies
Now you’re ready to search for a design agency. You can start by asking your network for referrals. Do colleagues have any agencies they’d recommend? Next, search online for the ideal agency. Look for agencies that have experience working within your industry.
Technology makes it easier than ever to communicate these days. Collaboration is fast and easy with tools such as Skype, Slack, email, video conferences and more. Watch for communication responses that are fast and polite, and that respond directly to your questions, etc.
Review the Agency’s Portfolio & References
Once you have a list of prospects, it’s time to review their website and portfolio. Do you like the company’s website? If not, move on to the next prospect on your list.
When reviewing the agency’s portfolio, ask yourself these questions:
Are the sites responsive and do they look great across devices?
Are they using the latest trends in website design?
Does each website look unique? Or do they all look alike—with the same structure, navigation, etc.?
When reviewing an agency’s portfolio, look at as many examples as possible. Also ask if they have worked on sites in your industry or a similar industry. Review these sites and see if you like the work. If not, then move on to the next agency on your list. You need to love their work in order to be happy with the end results, which will be your beautiful website.
And remember to ask the agency for referrals to past clients. A good agency will supply a list that includes contact information, along with the URL for the website created for each client. Take the time to visit the sites and contact the references to get a good feel for how the company works with their clients.
Do They Have a Discovery Process?
This might sound complicated, but it’s really not. All you want to know is are they asking the right questions to help determine what you want/need your website to do. Look for questions such as:
Who are your competitors?
Who is your target audience? How will they use the site?
What are the goals for your site?
When you find an agency asking questions such as these, you can rest assured they’re looking to understand what you want and need in a website.
How Do You and the Agency Measure Success?
The website design agency you choose will be your partner; you and your partner need to measure success in the same way. Make sure the agency meets you at this point, otherwise you’re sure to be disappointed, even if the agency has created a beautiful site. If the site doesn’t accomplish what you need, then it’s not successful.
Ask if they measure success by:
Number of sales
Reduced bounce rate
Then make sure you and the agency use the same success measure of success as you move forward together. If there’s a difference, then move on to the next prospect on your list.
Ask About the Agency’s Core Competency
What does the agency specialise in? Do they offer a complete package that includes website design and development, along with other services you may need?
For instance, can they help with copywriting and content curation? Look for an agency that has the experience and competence to help with your website design needs and more, if necessary.
Ask What CMS They Use
A CMS (Content Management System) is the backbone of any website. Some web design agencies use a proprietary, possibly in-house, CMS to build websites. However, this can lead to problems down the line. Later, if you need work done on the site, you’ll be forced to use the same agency again. If you weren’t happy with their work then, you won’t be happy now, either.
Look for web design agencies that use industry favourite CMS platforms such as Drupal, WordPress, or Modx. Something that’s commonly used will make it easier to maintain the site and/or make changes in the future. Any agency can come in to do the work, making it easier to find help in the future.
What Project Management Tools Does the Agency Use?
There are a variety of project management tools that help keep the flow of communication and work easy and smooth. For instance, avoid agencies that seem to depend on email for communications. Look for agencies that use tools such as Asana, Trello, etc. It’s easy to communicate directly in the app, and tracking the project from beginning to end is efficient and effectual.
Also look for an agency that’s able to give you a firm timeline—ask what happens during holidays, for instance. Ask who will be working on the project and how many team members you’ll be working with. Don’t forget to ask who the main contact will be. This could be a project manager assigned for your project.
Ask for a Quote and Ongoing Costs
When looking at the quote from a website design company, always look for transparency. Ask questions to look for hidden costs. And remember to ask if they will continue to maintain your site once it’s up and running. It’s also helpful to ask if they can train you on simple tasks such as adding content, etc. A quote should contain all of these features—if not, the agency could only be concerned with making money and nothing more.
Find the right website design agency can seem like a daunting task. However, asking the right questions and doing your research can help you find the best agency partner for creating your site.