Problems when hiring a Website Design Agency

website design agency

Ok let’s face it finding and hiring the Perfect website design agency isn’t easy.  it’s not a job you do often and therefore is not really a job you can learn to do.  This article will give you some really important things to look out for and some tips and checklists to help you. Ok, let’s go!

‘How the hell do I know how much to spend on a website design agency?’

This is a tough question because as we all know you can get a website for ‘free’ or you could probably pay £200,000 or more so working out what the right website design agency spend for your business is quite a challenge.

Firstly, free isn’t free

For a small business,  one-man band or simply when starting up and there’s no money then a free website is going to be the way to go.  Warning: those ‘free’ websites soon become anything but free when you actually want them to be visible on Google, when you actually want to do marketing or numerous other fairly basic functions – all come with a price tag so please be very careful with the word ‘free’ around websites

Secondly, spend as much as you can

For most businesses today and especially the SMEs that tend to read this site the website is a critical part of their sales funnel. Investing in the most important part of your sales funnel is a really good idea; getting the best website you can is a really good idea!

A business that is turning over say, £1 million or more will expect to spend £15 – £30,000 at least on a basic website that will last the business five years. How much new business will come through the website ? £200,000 a year for five years ? Not such a bad ROI.

Thirdly, be honest and detailed.

When purchasing from a website design agency it is tempting to try to minimise the scope in order to save money – presumably with the hope of adding in the bits you really want later! This is, of course, a huge mistake because you will spend more when the agency has to reverse engineer and amend work later.

Equally it is no good suddenly engaging with the website process just as it is drawing to a close –  you must get deep into the detail and think of every possible option right at the start so that this can be built into the website scope and everybody knows where they stand from day one – you and your website design agency.

KEY POINTS

> Put aside a proper budget

> Think hard at the start and provide a detailed brief

‘None of us know much about website design’

There’s no getting around the fact that by learning a little about website design you will probably end up getting to the perfect website much more quickly and possibly even at slightly less expense.  Learn some key terms and make sure that if you do speak to an agency you ask them to explain anything you don’t understand – if you pretend to have knowledge you don’t you will soon end up in a bit of a mess!

The very least find some websites you really like and some you really don’t to form the basis of a good and productive discussion with a website design agency.

KEY POINTS

> Learn as much as you can

> find some examples of website you like and dislike

‘I’ve no idea how to write a brief for a website design agency’

Ok what we can help with this one:

The first thing to say is that your brief does not have to do the final precise scoping of the project because any good agency should have a very solid process around this. They work collaboratively with you to build the final scope where ideally everything will be laid out on a simple spreadsheet so that you can make decisions around features and functionality in full knowledge of what everything costs.

First map out the website

Your job is first to provide the ideal page structure of the website that is a list of all the pages that your site will need to do the job naturally in discussion with your chosen website design agency this might change later but it’s a really solid start

Next give the designer something to work with – a mood board or some examples.

Again a good design agency will have a solid questionnaire set up and ready to help them really understand what you want but there’s nothing wrong with going in with a moodboard or example websites to get things moving.

Integrations get forgotten

A crucial piece of information to have upfront for your website design agency is is a list of all the different systems that your website will need to integrate with so you may have a stock system, you may have a CRM or numerous other integrations. Get them all listed out because they can be difficult to code.

KEY POINTS

> make a site map

> Give the designers a clue

> list all integrations

‘We’re not sure what sort of website design agency we even need!’

There are all sorts of website design agencies from one man bands through to 300 strong armies that can build you a new you trainline.com in a few months.

To try to cut through the confusion and provide some quick advice I would say the following are key:

1. Find a website design agency that feels about the right size so that if you’re a small business you should work with a small agency – the bureaucracy of a larger one would be painful. For a larger company it may be completely different and your teams match nicely.

2.  Find an agency that has skills that match your future requirements not just for the website i.e. if you’re going to go on and do a lot of inbound marketing then get an agency that understands inbound. If you’re going to do a lot of PPC then likewise find one that understands that.

3. Find an agency where you like the designs. It is not the only consideration but it is important!

KEY POINTS

> Get the chemistry right

> Consider size

> look at the work

‘I’m worried about hidden costs’

This is a really common problem and it really is nobody’s fault but it can end up being painful for the client of a website design agency.  Your website design agency will assume you know that (for example) photography will be extra but you may be surprised at the wrong moment.

Here is a quick list of things that are very important and should have budget but sometimes get forgotten:

  • Photography
  • Illustrations
  • Copywriting
  • Licences
  • Video Content

KEY POINTS

> Ask as many questions as you can

> Get quotes for everything before you start

‘Will the website be good for digital marketing?’

One of the elements of your project scope is to be very clear about what you will use the website for – what kind of marketing will you be doing on it once it is live.

A good website design agency will build a site to suit – so for example if you are planning on lots of inbound content marketing which is the most powerful marketing really available today then the agency will make sure to build you a site that’s really easy for you to upload content.

All websites must be very very quick to load, be schema tagged correctly and have a site map that is uploaded to Google.

KEY POINTS

> Specify your needs upfront

> Involve your digital marketing team in the website design agency selection process

A good web design agency folio will be varied

‘Will we be able to easily upload content?’

Whatever purpose you put your website to, it is highly likely that you want to upload new content and for successful inbound content marketing campaigns this becomes even more important – after all you’re going to want to upload three articles a week!

KEY POINTS

> Ask to use the agency’s CMS system to be sure you are comfortable with it

‘Will the agency support us long term?’

It is vital that you understand that a website is never finished and it will always need security updates, code updates, new pages, new features etc. Thai keeps the site healthy and secure in an ever changing digital landscape.

The best support will usually be from the website design agency that built it.

KEY POINTS

> A website is never finished

> A website will always need support

> find out how it works with this agency

>speak to a client if you wish

Finally: never start a project without 

  • An agreed scoping document that details every page and function
  • A contract and schedule of payments
  • A clear understanding of ongoing support costs
  • A clear sense that you are not tied to the agency – i.e. the site is created in a widely used language and that you own the website

Understand your precise scope and cost today with our website scoping process 

If you would like us to work through your website scope with our tools and provide an accurate project cost and brief, we will be pleased to do it. No charge, no obligation.
Just get in touch using our contact form – we look forward to hearing from you.

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