If you’re a business owner, you definitely want the very best for your company. So settling for a mediocre website is not a good option. But to get a great website, you need to find the right web agency. Here are some tips and tricks on how to find a great web design company.
To create the right website for your company you need to find a partner, a web agency, that could understand you, your business and your goals, and to deliver the perfect website on time and within budget.
But how will you know you found a good web design agency? There are many agencies out there, all with good references, but only a few are really exceptional. Hunting them up is no easy task, but here are the things that will help you to differentiate a mediocre web design agency from a really great one.
1. Great Agencies Ask “Why?” instead of “What?”
Great agencies don’t ask what type of website you want but what are you trying to achieve with it. The right agency knows that the website itself is not the goal, but just one of the many tools you need to build a successful business.
The website is a tool, not the goal.
“A great agency asks for your business goals and objectives, processes, methods, then performs market and competitive research, and proposes a functional and well-designed solution that fits your needs,”
“They would also ask you about your future business plans, to shape the new website into this vision and prepare it for future expansion and changes, saving you time, money and nerves.”
A high-quality website is something you should create only if you have a clear vision of the business goals you want to reach with it. And for this, you need a partner who asks the right questions and has the correct methodology.
2. One Man Bands Only Work In the Music Business
You could wonder why hire a web design company if you can hire an individual freelancer? The answer is simple.
Website development is too complex to be a one-man job.
A great agency has an experienced team and the know-how to constantly improve their skills, creating an even more powerful group of experts. Depending on the website’s structure and the technology used, a regular production team should include a project manager, information architect, designer, UI and UX specialists, front-end developer, back-end developer, server administrator, copywriter, and photographer.
I think you get the idea – it’s impossible for just one person to be successful in all these areas and deliver great results. And that’s what you require from a great agency. One-man-show agencies can produce average websites at best, without any insight into the position of the website within your business plans. Sure, they may create some interesting design, but beauty was not the reason for you to hire the first available web designer.
3. They Often Share Knowledge and Compete with Others
“Great agencies with professional teams have enough time and experience to teach others. They are not afraid to share their knowledge because their true secret of success is not their knowledge but in the value of their teams,”
says Olga Shevchenko, Art Director at Vintage, rated one of Top 10 web studios in Eastern Europe.
If you’re great, you’re not afraid of your competitors.
“That’s why great agencies participate in international design award competitions. Thus, they get a chance to compare the level they’ve achieved with the world's best agencies,”
4. Great Agencies Have Procedures That Lead to Results
Great agencies always measure effectivity and improve established processes and procedures. From collecting information to developing the site’s features, everything has its place in the agency’s daily operations and is assigned to the appropriate team members.
A great agency has the knowledge and the experience needed to understand the needs of their clients. The complete process, from the “why” to delivery, needs to be led by experienced project managers who follow a standardized procedure. Otherwise, nobody can guarantee the quality of the result, especially if it’s a complicated project.
“Strategy development, prototyping, design, front-end development, back-end development, quality assurance… These are all standardized processes that great agencies use in developing and delivering websites for clients,”
"For example, we were one of the first in our niche to establish the in-house Usability testing process, which now ensures that each newly developed website undergoes rigorous assurance and evaluation by the real target audience representatives".
5. They Never Stop Improving
You should look at a company’s portfolio and look for constant improvement in quality and creativity. This is a clear sign that this agency is investing heavily in operational efficiency and the skills of their team members, creating a direct impact on the quality of the websites that it is producing.
6. They Always Dare to Say “No” to Bad Ideas
Former Apple CEO Steve Jobs famously said: “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.”
Creating the right website can be an extremely intense process when it comes to communication and exchanging ideas with clients, especially if the agency’s suggestions are not completely aligned with the client’s vision. If you insist on certain visual solutions or organizational schemes, this can setback the project significantly and cause dissatisfaction and disappointment on both sides.
Hire smart people so they can delegate the process wisely.
“Agencies are experts at their work and they must behave as such. This means that they don’t need to agree with the client 100% of the time. They protect clients from making bad decisions, so if the client wants to do something that would harm the website’s quality and its business goals, great agencies will fight for the better solution tirelessly,"
7. They Never Forget to Communicate
Poor communication is the most common reason for failure when it comes to web projects. Honest and open communication between the agency and the client is an imperative to get the job done on time, within budget and with mutual satisfaction.
Open communication is crucial for the project’s success.
“Everybody makes mistakes, but only great agencies admit their mistakes and rectify the situation at their own expense. Others just argue with the clients,”*
8. Finally, Great Agencies Love Their Work
The final element is without any doubt – love. If highly-skilled and experienced professionals within the agency really love what they do, the resulting web projects will be exceptional. And that’s what we’re all looking for.
Author: Vladimir Ceric, experienced Project Manager and Marketing Strategist. Worked for Microsoft, Siemens, HP, Cisco Systems, SAP, and Ericsson. London School of Public Relations graduate.