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Choosing a Web Design Agency

Profile image for Andy Headington

If you’re looking to hire a web design agency then it’s worth considering these factors to ensure that you’re making the right choice, after years of working in the industry, speaking to clients and presenting at events we believe these are some of the most fundamental themes.

A Proven Track Record

This is split into a number of different areas, all with the intention of demonstrating the agency’s competence level, quality of work and creative abilities.

ESTABLISHED IN…?

In the digital industry new agencies are cropping up all the time (in the Bournemouth/Poole area there are over 400 agencies alone) but it’s harder to find ones which have been established for over 10 years. Whilst older doesn’t necessarily mean better, it can signify stability and reliability – choosing an agency can be a difficult decision, so you want to make sure that it’s one that can offer a long term relationship, way beyond your website launch.

Standing the test of time in this ever changing industry is also testament to an agency’s financial strength and reputation.

THE SIZE GUIDE

Along with having years’ of experience, the size of the team and their years’ of service can have a bearing on the quality of service you’ll receive. If the team is too small you could experience delays in your project, a lack of expertise or reliability issues, but if the team is too large then you could get lost amongst a corporate infrastructure.

Agencies rely on the quality of their staff, so working with people who have lived and breathed the agency’s values and working practices for a while offers consistency in service; however new members from time to time can breathe new life into creative projects and can bring with them fresh ideas.

With no barriers to entry one/two man bands are cropping up almost daily in this area alone, so it’s wise to understand the scope and capabilities of the agency and whether they outsource functions or keep them all in-house.

FAME & FORTUNE

Most agencies showcase their client list. This is useful for a number of reasons. One it helps to illustrate who has entrusted them with their web design in the past; two it allows you to see real life examples of the agency’s work; and three it demonstrates the calibre of work the agency is capable of, especially if they’re working with respected household brands.

After all, who doesn’t in the “world of marketing” like to be associated with companies who work with well recognised brands? At Adido, we are certainly proud to work with some of the UK’s most successful ones.

DEPTH VS. BREADTH OF EXPERIENCE

This is a powerful agency and client fit conundrum. Do you choose an agency that has strong specialist knowledge in your industry or sector so that you can benefit from this shared understanding? Or do you prevent conflicts of interest and steer clear of an agency who already works with a competitor?

There is no right or wrong answer in this situation, but rest assured, a reputable agency will ensure that if they work with one of your competitors that they will take measures to prevent breaches of confidentiality. Usually this involves isolated team work per client, so make sure the agency is big enough to accommodate this!

And if its specialist expertise you’re after, then choosing an agency that understands your sector as well as you do can reduce misunderstandings and mistakes, cut down on briefing time and speed up delivery - after all, they’ll know so much already that they’ll just be like an extension to your team!

AND THE WINNER IS…?

award winning web design

Whilst winning awards can seem like a way to massage the agency ego, they do offer agencies and clients with a convenient way to gather and provide peer reviews and third party expert opinion. Not all awards should be viewed as equal so it’s worth understanding how awards are entered and judged before taking an award win at face value.

An award such as appearing on the RAR Top 100 agency list is highly valued to the team at Adido because it is one which is contributed to by our clients – their recommendations are a key aspect to the rankings. Likewise profitability, growth and efficiency as well as competence and expertise are all factors which both agencies and clients use to determine business success, and form part of the judging criteria.

On the other hand, we’re not averse to starting a web project with the mind-set of “let’s create an award winning website” as it’s a great way to ensure that projects will be of a high standard right from the beginning.

A GOOD MATCH

We're sure you’re familiar with the saying “big fish, small pond,” well when picking an agency it’s a common phrase which springs to mind. More often than not, the size of your business needs to be compared with the size of the other brands working with the agency to ensure you get the level of service you desire (but can also afford). No-one likes to feel unloved, but at the same time you want to ensure that the agency is capable of working with your size of business.

Take time to understand the agency dynamics and learn how the agency juggles multiple accounts whilst ensuring a high level of service. If you’re looking to be a priority client you’ll need to assess your budget and the agency’s structure carefully.

The second and more important element of a good match is team chemistry. You’ll probably be working a lot together so it’s essential that you and your team get on with the agency team.

You may find at the pitch that the team who shows up to present is not the one you’ll be working with, so it’s always recommended that you get confirmation of who that team will be, and if the agency has a strong culture which is aligned to yours then even if personnel changes over time then this shouldn’t disrupt the dynamics too much.

SKILLS & EXPERTISE

Whilst a proven track record can illustrate the strength of experience, it’s worth deciding whether you’d like to work with an agency who is a specialist in their field (and how neatly defined the focus of that specialism is) or a generalist who can offer you a suite of creative and marketing services all under one roof. Depending on the number of staff this may be achieved with great breadth and depth regardless of specialism.

GOOD NEIGHBOURS BECOME GOOD FRIENDS

Location can play a significant role in deciding what web agency to work with. Whilst the world of digital can allow us to develop relationships, communicate and meet in a virtual sense, it’s a poor substitute for good old face to face contact.

Working in partnership is essential for a successful web project, having meetings and brainstorming together; demonstrating how the CMS works and building friendships all rely on face to face communication, so being in close proximity to one another helps keep travel time and expenses down for both parties. That being said, sometimes it’s worth the extra journey if the agency you’re keen to work with ticks all the other boxes.

BEST INTERESTS AT HEART

One of the areas we pride ourselves on is having the best interests of the client at heart. We can’t comment on how other agencies tackle this, but at Adido we are committed to doing the job right. We are willing to challenge the brief, demand clearly defined objectives and offer the expert view on a creative problem in order to deliver the right result – after all, our clients’ successes are what drives us.

IF THE PRICE IS RIGHT

There are a couple of different agency remuneration models to consider when choosing a web design agency. Each has their positives and negatives.

HOURLY RATES – a pretty straightforward pricing model and a standard for many service based businesses. Working on an hourly basis can work in both parties favour, but it can also mean that costs can spiral if the project overruns or if the brief changes midway through.

RETAINERS – setting an agreed price upfront ensures that the output is to the level you were expecting and at a cost you agree upon.  On the plus side you should be getting what you pay for, but on the other hand you may feel aggrieved if the quality of the output is not aligned to your expectations or you may have to pay more if the scope changes.

PAY ON PERFORMANCE – this model is pretty tricky to apply to web design projects as defining what success looks like for remuneration purposes can be hard. Similarly, if an agency is less enthused by the project they many decide to spend less time on the project and it can be slow to complete. On the other hand, you will have lower financial risk but possibly less control.

COMMISSION – like pay on performance if the website struggles to deliver commission for an agency, then it will not prioritise your work over a more lucrative project. However, if the opportunity to earn large rewards is good, then you could experience the opposite effect and they may be inclined to prioritise you.

EXTRA! EXTRA! READ ALL ABOUT IT…

The final area we’d like to leave you to ponder when deciding which web design agency to work with is concerning the added value offered during your relationship. This is a major part of what we do at Adido and we’re proud to offer our clients the following added perks:

  • Free to attend events

Twice a year we put on an inspirational event called Let's Do Digital – our team of Adido experts share the stage with some of the giants of our industry including Google, Microsoft and Linkedin. These half day and full day digital marketing conferences offer our clients and the local marketing community the chance to network with likeminded peers and gain valuable insight into the world of digital marketing.

lets do digital

  • Information in abundance

Head over to the Adido blog to learn what’s happening right now in the industry. Get insight into the latest tips and tricks, or join the debate on the future of digital. With a few light hearted anecdotes added in for pure entertainment it’s a blog written by our passionate team of experts.

  • Giving something back

With many Bournemouth University graduates working at Adido, we find time to give something back to the next generation and our “beloved university”. We recently facilitated a social media training workshop to pair students with local charities with the aim of giving them the skills and connections to help one another. Similarly we take on summer placement students and present at university events.

  • Open to new ways of doing things

Finally, but by no means least, whilst we have built our agency up doing things “our way” we’re also open to new ways of working, and are willing to consider alternative ways of doing business with our clients to achieve mutually beneficial goals.

So from the outset it may seem like choice is in abundance, but if you narrow down your selection criteria and focus on these key areas you should be able to make a strategic, fulfilling and successful decision. And if you’re interested in working with Adido give one of our team a call.

 

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