Here’s the scenario: You need a website, and you want it to look professionally done. You don’t have the time (or necessarily the knowledge) to build an effective, aesthetically pleasing site on your own, and you don’t want to employ someone in-house to do it, either. The solution? You decide to hire out for your web development, but with so many agencies available, which one should you choose?
Well, you’re in luck. You’ve stumbled upon this article, and I’m here to give you a few key points to consider when hiring a design agency. Spoiler alert: The most telling factors aren’t mind-blowing, but they are extremely important if you want the job done right.
As with any project — whether it’s building your house or fixing your car — you want to make sure that the people doing the work know what they’re doing. Look for an agency team with at least a few years of experience under their belt. (And if you’re planning to create a large, highly customized site, look for a place that has more than just a few years in the business.)
Experts understand that half the battle in creating the perfect website is understanding the client — their brand, tone, strengths and shortcomings. Before any work begins, supply the agency with your brand guidelines and a style guide. If you don’t have these items, your chosen agency should work with you to create these. If they don’t have the capacity or resources to develop these pieces, look inward to your own staff or another external agency for help. At our own agency, we don’t move forward with any website project without these because they provide concrete direction and rules on how to work with the brand.
Also, have you heard of the terms “sitemap” or “wireframe”? Your design agency had better. If not, run (quickly)!
Do yourself a favor and set aside at least a couple of hours to vet the work of the agencies you’re considering. Their portfolios will give you an idea of the quality and style of their work. Are they industry-specific? Do they incorporate best practices for on-page SEO? Can they design for e-commerce? You need to know their capabilities.
An agency’s team should be knowledgeable in many areas: web development, design, writing/editing and SEO, just to name a few. Look for agencies that employ specialists specific to those areas, where that’s all those employees do each and every day. Can a brain surgeon do open heart? Maybe. Would you rather have a heart surgeon? Yes.
One of the best ways to find a web agency is to ask around. Check with other businesses that have stellar websites and see who they used. Or, if you’ve already contacted some web design agencies, ask for references within a similar industry, budget or goal.
How much you spend depends heavily on the size and scope of your project. Do you need to incorporate e-commerce shopping, custom programming and design, content development or regular maintenance? If so, expect to pay more.
Each agency has a reason for the price they give. Check with a few to see what their costs are, and if one is significantly higher, ask why. There may be a good reason for the price difference. Digging a little deeper gives you the information you need to make the most informed decision.
This list is not exhaustive by any means. There are other elements, such as the agency’s physical location and marketing capabilities, that may be important on an individual basis. It all depends on your goals.
When you’re looking to hire an agency, act as if you’re hiring an employee. Don’t assume they can do the job just because they say they can. Interview them. Ask questions about how they do their work, and be specific about your needs. With a little bit of research and effort, you’ll find your perfect agency match.