With so many web design agencies out there and so many horror stories about projects gone awry, disappearing web guys and websites with no one to update them – how do you make sure you pick the right agency for your company’s website? We’re going to go over 5 main points you should keep in mind when in talks with a web design company so you can be confident you’re making the right choice with your project.
There are two main points I want to talk about under communication – style and frequency.
When you’re talking with this agency or freelancer – what sort of language do they use? Is their tone relaxed and their words free of web jargon? Are their topics explained clearly and in plain English? Or are you sorting through their words to find meaning and frequently referencing the dictionary?
How frequently are they contacting you? A fine balance should be struck between waiting for your response and taking the initiative and contacting you themselves. This one is half personal preference as well – if you prefer to be very hands off on a project and your web agency is contacting you every day to get feedback, then you may not be a great fit.
If your agency hasn’t contacted you in several weeks and you really like to get frequent updates on the progress of things then there is a miscommunication there as well and they might not be a good fit for you.
Judge their communication style and frequency during the initial estimation and discovery phases of a project. How a freelancer or agency communicates during the initial lead up to a project will indicate their communication skills for the latter portion of the project.
How much value are they offering?
Does the agency you’re talking to actively provide value, even before they’ve received any money from you? Have they offered you advice or their opinion – unsolicited and without any reservations?
That’s valuable and they know by giving away their knowledge they earn something worth more than your money – your trust. A great web agency will realize there is no harm in giving away what they know in the name of providing value.
On the other hand, someone who guards their secrets to themselves, thinking others will steal them or figure out how to do it on their own, is one who will not be a joy to work with. These types of people (though they may be good at what they do) tend to be harder to work with and require more than their fair share of monitoring to ensure they do what you need, not what they want to do.
Their past work or portfolio
Peruse through their portfolio or links they’ve provided to you and what do you see? What are your first impressions about the quality and overall aesthetic of their work?
When you view their projects, are they well thought out and have consistent, high quality design? When you go to the websites they’ve made, do they load fast and the features work as expected?
Do they focus on you or your customers?
There’s a subtle but important difference between a web agency or freelancer who will focus on what you want and what will work best for your customers.
One who focuses on your customers realizes the importance of creating a solution which will make it easiest for your customers to buy from you, see you as a brand to trust and be more likely to refer you to their own friends.
Someone who focuses on what you want is doing you a disservice – what they come up with may not be the best for your customers and could hinder them from buying from you.
What are people saying about them?
Has anyone recommended you to this agency or freelancer? Word of mouth is incredibly valuable (we use it almost exclusively) and if others have good things to say, you can be more comfortable with choosing them.
If you want, call them to see if they have any past customers you can talk to. A good agency will be more than accommodating and won’t have any qualms about you contacting their clients to get a referral.
If they are hesitant to offer you any referral information, this should be a red flag. If they aren’t comfortable with you talking to their past clients that could mean they have something to hide.
How comfortable are you?
The part of your stomach that gives you good and bad feelings? Don’t discount it – there’s been more than enough research to suggest the gut feeling is actually pretty accurate for most people.
Pay attention to how you feel as you converse with this agency or freelancer – if you feel uneasy at any point or not comfortable then feel free to go and find other options for your project.
Inversely, we do the same thing with clients – if we feel we’re not a good fit or have an uneasy feeling about a project we do what we can to either dispel the feeling or we have a candid conversation about why we don’t feel we’re a good match for them.
Don’t feel bad for wasting their time – you’ve actually freed up their time to focus on projects from clients who are a better fit for them. In the long run it saves time, energy and money for all involved.
But wait – where is price?
Ah – you’re smart – price isn’t on this list because it shouldn’t be a deciding factor in your choice of a web agency.
If you’ve worked with a web agency or freelancer to properly outline your needs and goals for a project, you should be comfortable in the fact they will provide you a good price for your results.
When you base your decision off of money alone you could overlook a solution having more value, which will make you money in the long run.
Make your final decision on the value the project and company is bringing to your business – not the final dollar amount on their estimate. You’ll be much happier with the results and confident in your choice of the web agency or freelancer perfect for you.