7 Questions You Must Ask When Selecting a Web Agency : A Mini Guide
Investing in a new website or redesign isn’t a big decision. It has the potential to be a mammoth game-changing decision (don’t be scared though). A website isn’t simply a place to put your company or product information. That was for the Yellow Pages. Nor is it something to have just so can tick the ‘we’ve got a website’ box. A website is meant to showcase your business and clearly outline to your audience what your company is about and how your offerings can help them. Call it powerful, a website has the ability to influence whether your business wins a sale or loses business. Not to down play it but selecting a web design agency that understands and looks out for your business is crucial.
With more design agencies than ever, it can be difficult to determine which agency will best meet your business needs. To simplify things, we’ve created this mini-guide. Here are 7 questions that you might want to ask before selecting a web design agency to entrust with your website.
Question 1: What Is Your Approach To Web Design?
A quick way to sort the wheat from the chaff. We recommend you don’t get too caught up in promises of creating a beautiful website. Any design agency worth their salt will talk up their ability to design a beautiful website. Design is more than just what a site looks like. Design is also about what makes it a great site to use. Web design is also about what’s happening in the background. A builder may build a house but he still needs an electrician and plumber to make the house worth living in. Many web agencies forget the sparky and plumber – and paint, flooring, fittings, retic.
An agency that understands design and can demonstrate an understanding of similar sectors is important. This ensures they can design a site with the right visual elements to make you a leader and serious competitor.
An agency that understands the importance of electricity and plumbing is absolutely vital. From optimising images and tagging your headlines (H1 > H6) through to effective site structure and local hosting, your design agency needs to be able to demonstrate they go the extra mile for you.
Question 2: Do your skills pay the bills?
The usual question is – ‘how big is your team?’
5. 126. 13. 48. The size of the team doesn’t matter, it’s what you do with it. Ahem……
It’s important that your web agency has the skill set to deliver the right website for you. You also need to know your selected agency is open and trustworthy. So, some quick fire questions could be:
- ‘Can you show me some of your web designs that are from a similar business sector as mine?’. Follow this up with;
- ‘What would you consider the successes were in these projects?’. And finally;
- ‘Were there any challenges you faced with these projects?’
Depending on your thoughts on in house design team vs outsourced design it may also be worthwhile asking if the team are based locally or overseas.
Question 3: Do You Have Lock-In Contracts?
Some of the larger agency’s seem to take their cues from ‘Married at First Sight’ (for the record we don’t watch it). Moving like Usain Bolt, they’re quick to put a ring on your business for the next 6, 12 or however many months. During these times, you’re contractually obligated to use their agency for any redesign, updates and other work. Even if you really don’t want to.
Locking into a long-term contract that promises to take care of your website and Google ranking might sound good but like most marriages made on TV they tend to fall apart spectacularly.
We recommend finding a web design agency that gives you the keys to your website and the freedom to own what you have paid for. Editor access is a standard but we suggest asking for full administrative access. This unlocks everything on the site and, depending on your urges to click and play, gives your business full control. Of course you’ll want to ensure the agency can be called upon to help with your websites SEO, site updates and when you’ve accidentally deleted a page.
A website is your businesses most important piece of online intellectual property and it should be owned by you. By asking about lock-in contracts and maintenance upfront, you can save yourself and your business from a lot of hassle, money and time in the long run.
Question 4: What’s The Go With Hosting?
Without hosting your site doesn’t exist. So, it’s kind of important.
Website hosting plays an integral role in the user experience and site speed, and is becoming increasingly important for Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). Your web agency should be able to provide you with local, rapid and secure hosting so don’t be afraid to ask ‘Do you provide hosting and where will my site be hosted?’ If the agency doesn’t provide hosting or the hosting is in Canada then it might be worth reconsidering.
Question 5: Do You Have Customer Testimonials Or Reviews I Could See?
A trustworthy agency won’t get offended by this question. Quite the opposite, they’ll likely be keen to show off what their clients think. This isn’t about doubting their ability but rather ensuring you’re spending your valuable time talking to a credible agency who has a history of satisfied customers.
At Start Digital we take pride in what our clients think of us. Whether we’re working with small businesses or large corporate clients we want to be loved. Call us insecure but it’s really what makes projects worthwhile.
It’s worth noting though that it pays to be cautious even with great reviews. Here are a few tips for assessing reviews:
- Evaluate the number of reviews – it’s easy to get a few so a good number of reviews is best.
- Pay attention to which businesses and industries these reviews come from – 23 4-star reviews is amazing! But if they’re all from catering, food and restaurants businesses, they might not accurately convey the agency’s ability to create your IT and technology website.
- Look out for comments that describe the people working in the agency – you’ll be dealing with them a lot so it’s good to know what others experiences are/were
Question 6: Could I See Your Portfolio Of Your Recent Work?
Reviews and testimonials are excellent but nothing is better than seeing an agency’s work for yourself. Design is subjective and what looks good for one client might be a dogs breakfast to another. If you’re meeting with agencies that have a super cool, minimal style and that’s what you’re looking for then awesome. They might not be such a great fit for information heavy government-esque sites. But damn, we wish we were one of those fresh agencies….
An agency’s portfolio will shine a light on their ability to deliver a site that works for you.
Question 7: How Often Is My Website Backed Up and Restored After A Disaster…?
No one, agency or business, ever wants something to go wrong nor to even think about it. However, because things happen it’s best to be prepared. The right agency will consistently back up your website and have a contingency plan that is able to restore your website if anything were to go wrong. For the record we back up all our client sites weekly.
While nothing is ever foolproof, asking these questions will help you gain invaluable insight into an agency’s creativity, experience and principles. Ultimately, these insights will demonstrate whether they’re a good fit for your business.
If you’re interested in hearing about how Start Digital manages our client websites, is suspicious of lock-in contracts and has the skills to pay the bills, give us a call at (08) 6144 3710 or shoot us an email.