How to choose a website design agency
The website design and development racket is a tricky field to navigate.
If you find yourself in search of web design agencies, it’s sometimes hard to tell the wood from the trees in terms of differentiating between the good and the bad.
The aim of this blog is to give you a few pointers on why it’s worth your while getting professionals to design and develop your website.
#1 How hard can it be? I’ll do it myself for a fraction of the price
But, have they created something that truly reflects their brand or business? Well I’d bet that 99% of ‘self-built’ websites entirely misrepresent their brand/business or simply don’t do it justice.
A website is often the first place a prospective new client will look – the importance of making a good first impression is essential in building trust, driving conversion and encouraging advocacy.
#2 Due-diligence whether it’s a new business or an upgrade – don’t go rogue
So, you’ve made the right choice and realised what’s best for your business.
You must be careful though. As in every industry, especially overcrowded ones, there are those who have your best interests at heart, and then there are the crooks.
Owing to how diluted the industry is, the web design and development space is littered with people trying to exploit other peoples ignorance and make a quick buck and whilst most agencies in question provide a similar service offering to one-another, it’s up to you to differentiate between them all.
It’s important to try and choose an agency that will take as much pride in the client’s business and brand, as the client themselves.
This is obviously easier said than done but finding a team with enthusiasm for not only their work, but also their clients, will ensure a positive outcome further down the line.
An obvious place you can check this is in their case studies. If there aren’t beautiful examples of past work proudly placed on a pedestal on the agency’s website, alarm bells should be ringing.
#3 Pay Peanuts, Get Monkeys
When it comes to costs, if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is and somewhere down the line you’ll end up in losing out either financially or being lumped with a mediocre, under-whelming website.
Always bear in mind the number of different elements it takes to build a good website – design, UX, development and SEO. Each are very specific skills that people spend years honing and as such you expect to pay!
So, save your time and don’t engage with any company who quote significantly less than all the other quotes that you have received.
Especially in regard to SMEs and start-ups, budgets can be restrictive, but, considering the importance of a website plays on client’s first impressions, every effort should be made to make them as well-crafted as they can be.
Websites are often more expensive than people think but when you take into account the expertise you are getting for your money, the juice is worth the squeeze.
75% of user judgment about your business’s credibility is based on your website’s design - University of Surrey
People are often taken aback by the costs of building a custom website. Whilst these costs are usually fair, the agency should provide fairly comprehensive breakdowns demonstrating how they are arriving at the forecasted costs, including an idea of additional development and post build costs should they be needed.
Getting several quotes from different agencies should give you a good idea of a ballpark figure you should expect to pay.
Whilst there are some very intuitive platforms out there that can walk you through every step to building an intuitive and responsive website for relatively little money, the chances of you creating a website that best reflects your business is hard with off the shelf templates. What’s more; by using the standard themes offered by the likes of WordPress and Shopify, it’s likely that your website will end up looking similar if not identical to someone else’s and correct me if I’m wrong, it’s in a businesses interest to stand out from the crowd, not mix about in it.
#4 Forming Lasting Relationships
Digital professionals helping ambitious brands thrive online.
This is the mantra at the core of Diffusion Digital’s ethos and fundamentally lays out our driving force, and, in danger of sounding self-righteous, it’s one that every digital agency should pursue.
I say ‘pursue’ because – owing to evolving environments, demographics and products, to name but a few – this process is changes with the times and we must adapt with it. Having an agency aboard throughout will make your life easier in the long run.
Agencies should demonstrate that they take genuine pride in the websites they help craft. They should take the time to truly understand what the brand or business stands for and the client’s objectives or vision into the future, as well as Key Performance Indicators.
When a collection of brilliant minds, hearts, and talents come together… expect a masterpiece - John Ruskin
#5 Sit back and watch your business/brand evolve online
The beauty of using an agency is that you should expect all bases to be covered.
- Appropriate platform
Magento, WordPress, Kentico, Salesforce, Shopify are just a few of the platforms that people host their websites on and which one to use depends on your business. Engaging the correct platform from the outset is critical to all businesses moving forward in terms of functionality abd scaling the business in the future.
- SEO structure
It is essential to involve Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) from the earliest stages of a website build. Creating keyword optimised landing pages will help Google recognise what your business is and subsequently, with an ongoing content strategy, high quality organic traffic will be driven to your site.
- Clever custom animations
Being able to customise apps and other integrations is essential to truly bringing a brand to life online. Agencies make it their mission to tweak existing apps to best fit the profile of the business they are working for. This allows entirely bespoke interactions that will truly enhance the appearance and performance of the site.
- Seamless user experience
Creating a site that is easy to navigate, with intuitive integrations and that’s pleasing both visibly as well as practically is a crucial part of attracting engaging and retaining visitors to a site.
- Responsive design
Increasingly people use a variety of devices to access the internet making it essential to develop a website that transitions seamlessly from one device to another.
#6 Key considerations
- Does this agency have the right expertise?
The agency doesn’t necessarily have to be old but it is worth checking the experience of the team who is going to be working on your account. It has been known that experienced people will be in the discovery stages in order to win the brief and subsequently pass the account onto less able juniors. Whilst this is great in teaching other people skills, it might not be ideal in terms of building your website.
- Does this agency offer all of the services I require?
Where possible find an agency where all departments — SEO, Development, UX, Copy Writing to name but a few — are housed under one roof. In terms of simplicity, efficiency and ease of communication this is far better than working with agencies who sub-contact elements out to people who might be based on the other side of the world
- Is my business important to them?
Find people who care. If it is a small project don’t go to a big agency because they might not assign the same amount of time as they do to other projects.
- How many people will be working on my account?
This will vary throughout the build. Expect all sections to be involved during the initial discovery stages but once designs and strategies have been laid down the teams will work individually on the sections that are relevant to them before passing it onto the next to complete theres.
- Who will be my main contact?
Ensure clear lines of communication are set up and you know who you speak to directly should you need to
- What am I paying for?
You are paying for a team of experts in their respective fields to help bring your business to life on line. In a world where digital is taking over a little more each day, it is essential that we keep up with the times and by creating a beautiful website you will extend your reach enormously.
- Do you like and trust them?
This isn’t just an agency who you need to help you in the short term. These individuals are going to be dealing with something which is incredibly important to you and as such you need to not only to like them, but more importantly trust them. You need to be able to look at them and tell that they are going to treat your baby – so to speak – with the upmost respect. Essentially a website design agency becomes intimately involved in the development of your brand/business and as such you need to see that they care.
- Are they asking the right questions?
The agency should develop a deep understanding of the business and how it works during the initial discovery stage, this should also look into key performance indicators and future targets.
- Are they able to provide testimonials and examples of work?
Whilst the agency doesn’t necessarily have to be too old, it is important that at least a few of the people who work there have considerable experience working in the industry. This can be tested by looking at the testimonials on both the individual as well as the work they have done.
Ultimately what you ant to ask yourself is whether or not you will form a good relationship with the agency and especially the team who are going to be working on your account.
Contact with an agency rarely ends after the build is complete and usually an agency will offer retainer packages to manage a website into the future. Moreover finding an agency who offers on-going SEO and content marketing retainer strategies that will help drive high quality organic traffic to your site.
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