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What to Look For in an Agency

Search the web and you’ll stumble on millions of web design and web development agencies, thousands of which are in your own city (or claim to be so). However, because you want only the best for your project, you’ll need to be very selective and pick professionals with vast knowledge and years of expertise. To help you get the best agency for your new project, here are ten factors you should base your decision on. 

1.Availability

Before you start assessing the agency, you need to ensure its availability. The last thing you need is to get your hopes up high only to be told much later that the agency is unavailable. So get in touch to find out about its turnaround time for responding to emails and ability to accommodate urgent changes. Your best bet would be an agency that offers you a dedicated account management team, ensuring that your project isn’t compromised or put on the back burner because of another.

2.Track Record

Go through the agency’s portfolio or case studies page to learn about its track record. If you don’t recognize clients’ names, Google them and find out if they actually exist. This will also give you a chance to find out which niches the agency had served before. That aside, skimming through the portfolio section will allow you to determine the agency’s level of expertise and even inspire you to tweak the design you have in mind. To get an even better idea of the company’s track record, check the testimonials page. You can also request references and customer feedback from the agency, and then call their providers to check their authenticity.

3.The Agency’s Age

While age may be just a number, it does matter in the field of web design and development. The internet is constantly changing; new algorithms and technologies are produced in a relatively short space of time. If the agency you’re planning to hire has at least five years of experience and can prove this through its portfolio, it has obviously managed to stay ahead of the changes and deliver according to clients’ expectations. With the internet causing the boom and bust of many agencies over the years, those that live to tell the tale are run well.

4.Process

Regardless of whether your project is simple or complex, the agency you pick shouldn’t have an ad hoc planning and development process. Every aspect should be strategically planned to ensure smoother execution. Therefore, get your shortlisted options to discuss their methodology to determine if it gives your project the time and attention it needs.  While talking about this factor, though, ask about the timeframe the project will require. Make sure to ask whether the timeframe depends on a production schedule or if it’ll be the same at any time of the year.

5.Payment

Your budget may determine which agency you can hire, but you need to put more thought into the payment terms. First off, be prepared to pay 10-50% of the total amount up-front before you see the first prototype. This is usually charged to protect agencies from flighty or non-serious clientele. If you’re charged more, your investment may be at risk, so you’ll be better off elsewhere. In addition to inquiring about down payments, you should get a detailed quote outlining the fees of every component. This will protect you from hidden charges and extras that may pop up later during the development process. Finally, find out if the timeframe has a say in your bill. If it does, talk to the agency about breaking down your project and them billing you accordingly.

6. Range of Services

One of the best ways to ensure the most value for money is by hiring an agency which offers a wide range of services. For instance, in addition to development and creative work, the best agencies throw online marketing into their service mix. The least a reputable agency can do is connect you to talented providers who can offer the additional services you may need on the long run. If your relationship with the agency is strong enough, it may secure you a few discounts as well.

7. Maintenance and Follow Ups

You need to ensure that the agency is prepared to maintain its deliverable and fine tune it whenever necessary. This will spare you from having to hire another company and waiting for a long time until it understands the developer’s coding and software’s functions. However, discuss the costs of updates and maintenance beforehand to make sure that you’re on the same page. On the other hand, if the developer refuses to spare you the hassle of finding another agency, make sure to have all the documentation in hand to spare others’ time and guarantee maximum uptime.

8. Level of Professionalism

Professionalism is one of the valuable traits in the business worlds because: a) it determines the success of a business and the relations it has with others; b) allows objectives to be met in a timely manner; and c) establishes boundaries which make interactions enjoyable and free of conflict and misunderstandings. Professionalism is also essential for maintaining accountability and promoting respect. Therefore, for your new project to succeed, you need to deal with a professional company whose staff is also friendly and approachable.

9. Compliance with Standards

Talk to the design and development team to find out which standards they will use during the planning and implementation process. You should especially ask about the coding standards to be used as these determine the quality of the end results. For instance, if the deliverables are DDA complaint and built according W3C guidelines, your site will be accessible to all browsers. This may mean doing your research on development standards, but this will be worthwhile considering the amount of money you’re investing in your web presence.

10. Level of Comfort

How comfortable you feel around the agency’s team determines the success of your project. If you admire the developers’ and designers’ professional attitude, you’ll be more at ease while instructing them and providing them with feedback. As a result, you’ll be able to get a website you like and feel satisfied with your investment. On the other hand, if you’re not happy with your agency and its deliverable, chances are that you’ll end up paying extra to get your site re-done. So meet up with the agency’s team beforehand and see how well you can work together.

You can add your own determinants to this list as well to get the best agency for your upcoming project. Just don’t make money your top priority because your main focus should be on value. If you get great service, a customer-magnet web presence and long term maintenance, rest assured that your business will survive the tough competition in both the physical and virtual worlds. 

Posted by Maureen Dillon

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