So – you’re all set to go online with a stack of website and social media ideas which are primed and ready to drive traffic and custom to your brand new business, project or venture. It’s tempting to go it alone and to tweak all the various bits and pieces yourself, but you’ve heard great things about web design agencies. But who are these agencies? What can they do for you?
Even just by taking a quick look online right now you’ll likely find a sea of different development studios and agencies chomping at the bit to help you get started – but how do you possibly pick the right one? Is it a matter of cost? Experience? Locale?
It’s all relative – and it all depends upon which factors matter the most to your, your business and your brand. Here are some essential tips you should always bear in mind when it comes to hunting down the right web design agency for you.
Before we get into the more detailed entries in this guide, let’s get straight to the point early on – the best web design agency for you is going to be one which fits your needs, your budget, your creative profile, your ethos and your brand. There is little point in scoping out the absolute lowest bidder if they simply don’t offer you the results you need! Using our guide, we’ll help you to understand how you can easily make the right decision when it comes to finding the best web design studio fit for your needs.
Dead simple – take a look at the design agency’s professional web page, social media and outward online appearance. Take a look at how they do things for their own business – is their website functional? Easy to browse? Easy on the eye, and full of useful content and contact details for you to follow up with? If not, you may want to reconsider approaching them.
Once you’ve sussed out whether or not the agency’s own website performs to the standards you expect of a professional studio who can take on and develop your brand’s online presence, it’s time to look at what they’ve done for previous clients. Are they open and honest with their previous work? Do they offer a variety in style, functionality and approach? How have things worked out for previous clients? Check out testimonials and try out their previous work hands-on – is this the best fit for you?
Tenure isn’t everything, but it’s certainly a start. It goes without saying that you’ll likely be more obliged to partner with a firm that’s built up a decade of web design work over someone who started last Thursday – however, you sometimes have to give such firms the benefit of the doubt sometimes – as lack of tenure doesn’t always mean a lack of talent. Longevity does, however, generally suggest that this is a studio who knows what they’re doing, and that they are continuing to work to high standards.
This one is quietly important – the internet is still a fairly dangerous place if you don’t take the right precautions, and one thing you’re going to need to check for is that your prospective web design agency adheres to various security and privacy standards which are currently seen as either the norm, or the suggested. Further to this, check out how they see mobile browsing and engagement – if they’re not pushing for mobile responsiveness and are oddly quiet about opening up your web design to all devices and browsers, it’s time to start asking a few questions. The right web design studio for you should be ready with their fingers on the pulse of internet browsing and should know exactly what it takes to get you seen and to engage your visitors.
This is a big one – as you’re going to need to find a communication balance with your prospective designers early on if the process is going to be worthwhile you getting into at all. Does the team respond promptly to your messages? Do they offer concise, straight answers, and avoid heavy jargon? On the flip side of the coin, do they still offer responses in full, professional language – do they inspire confidence in you that they can be trusted to handle your brand? Also consider the channels open to you – are there opportunities for you to meet in person, to speak via phone, or just to email? Consider what’s right for you long-term.
It takes more than just a pretty face to get seen online these days, and it takes more than just a few flashy menus and a functional design for a contract to be worthwhile undertaking between you and an agency. You’re going to need to consider how they approach online marketing. Is their SEO strategy air-tight? Are they keen to discuss techniques – and do they use techniques which fall into the ‘white hat’ category? Essentially – are you dealing with honest, capable marketers as well as honest, capable designers? You may well need the best of both worlds.
You’ve already looked at their portfolio, and while everything there looks fantastic and works well in practice, there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of similar work to fit your bill – is it worth pursuing this agency? Maybe, maybe not. The right agency for you should be one which has some experience of handling your specific types of request before, and where possible, they should ideally have worked with a similar force in your industry or line. There’s nothing to say that perfectly talented agencies aren’t worthwhile signing up with if you’re the first of your kind for their portfolio – but from your perspective, a little bit of expertise relevant to your industry and needs can go a very long way indeed.
There’s nothing to say that a small team can’t handle bigger jobs or more complex requests – far from it – but you are going to need to consider how much support you’ll need when it comes to bringing your website to life, and when it comes to the aftercare. You may need specific experts and designers as well as social media managers and SEO wizards – this can be quite hard to come by if you’re working with a team of three who are spreading themselves thin! Once again, this point is relative – smaller teams are just as likely to be fantastic at offering you a great portfolio of work – but you’re going to need to closely consider how much support you’re going to need during and after the design and launch process.
This point is deceptively simple, but it’s a question you should definitely be asking early on in the process. While a good web design agency will already have laid out what they can do for you in a general sense in clear and simple detail, an even better one will be happy, willing and able to generate a more comprehensive plan of action for you upon request. While your exact needs for your website will vary with the next company’s, you are going to need to consider your investment and projected return – how are the team going to attend to your needs – and how are they going to go above and beyond in making your website work for both you and your prospective clients? The best web design agencies have nothing to hide – and what’s more, they’re fantastic at laying down coherent, confident plans of action that you can really get behind. If they can keep you in the loop, too – that’s another tick in the right set of boxes.
This carries on from the above point, in a way. Your needs may vary – but how much involvement will you need or want with regard to your online presence? Do you want to write your own content? Are you happy to sit back and approve status reports as and when they roll in? What is the agency’s approach to this – and for your money, especially, how much work is required of you? If it’s far too much – in both extremes – you’re going to need to find a balance, or at least an agency who can support one.
Yes – more and more firms these days are taking advantage of outsourcing, and why not indeed – talented freelancers and agencies are helping to generate some fantastic work day in, day out. However, this may not be the best fit for you or your needs. Consider their approach to freelancing and outsourcing – does the studio have a ‘plan B’ approach should a project go awry with a freelance contact? Can they guarantee any work to be undertaken in-house? If not, why not? Do ask the questions – even the ones you think may be a little too curt. After all, you’re going to need to find the best possible value for your money.
Another essential point to consider is the agency’s focus on deadlines and efficiency – you’re not necessarily going to want things completing if it means the team going break-neck and rushing a job – so it’s a very good idea to consider asking what the studio’s plan of action and scope for delivery is once you get started.
It’s a simple fact that good web design takes time and effort – and it’s another simple fact that if an agency has plenty of work in the pipeline, they are likely to be very good at what they do. Consider your own timescales and short-term needs – do you need a website built with speed, or with more careful consideration? Is the agency you’re scoping out worth hanging on for if they’re experiencing a backlog? Once again – consider expertise, how willing they are to help, and what they could bring to your project that no one else can.
Yes – of course – we were going to get to this part eventually, and in this day and age, it’s hardly surprising that this point of concern will likely come ahead of everything else we’ve discussed so far. In a perfect world, the budget factor should come at the end of the process – but we all know that financial planning has to take precedence in the vast majority of cases. With your prospective agency – do you get value for money? Don’t focus on the upfront cost – how much business could the agency generate for you? Is the investment worthwhile undertaking? How do their costs compare to the competition? Are they more expensive as a result of their expertise? Consider things carefully – as the last thing you are going to want to do is partner with a studio that can’t deliver the results you paid for.
Never – under any circumstances – enter into a deal until you are completely clear on a number of legal points which could affect you years down the line. Horror stories regarding shady web designers stealing brand names and identities as a result of contract loopholes are not unfounded – you are going to need to partner with a firm which is up front on ownership and intellectual rights. You’re also going to need to make sure your financial obligations are clear and concise, too.
If you’ve considered the above and now have a better idea of how to approach a web design agency with your website and online marketing proposal, it’s time to start getting in touch with local experts and studios – don’t be afraid to reach out!
SEO CoPilot are experienced, Chesterfield-based web designers and developers – and we’re here to offer you the expertise, value and long-term results your website deserves. Call us today on 01246 556565 or email us via web form at your convenience – and let’s get started!
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