If you speak to anybody responsible for a company’s marketing strategy and you ask them how the design & development process of their website went they will probably respond with a roll of the eyes.
Delving into a new digital marketing project can feel quite daunting and choosing the right web design agency to work with can leave you scratching your head. Pick the wrong agency and you could be left with long-lasting complications.
I’ve spent many years working as a designer and developer and have come across many good and bad practices from other design agencies out there. With my experience working in a professional web design environment, I can offer what I believe are the most important factors to consider when selecting a web design agency to work with.
This probably sounds a bit obvious however not all websites are the same there is a vast array of different types of websites out there. Let’s take Amazon, for example, it’s a website but it’s also running on a global infrastructure backed by billions of dollars. It also has many data centres and servers worldwide. The same can be said for the likes of Facebook and Google.
Whilst these are some of the biggest and most in-demand sites in the world it’s also important to understand the different factors that make up a website. Each of these sites will have its unique complexities to deal with. It’s a good idea to consider what functionalities your website may need and how you plan on integrating them.
If you are going to sell any product or service online, you are going to need an e-commerce solution, an online shop. Chances are that a work colleague's husband or wife who does a bit of web stuff isn’t going to be an ideal solution for your new venture.
Developing an e-commerce solution will always come with many technical hurdles to jump. You need to ensure that the agency that you hire to build your online shop has the experience to well, build you an online shop. Can you be confident that they can also offer the support you need as you scale your online venture? You might need to upgrade your hosting or help with some user testing. There are also going to be times when you need technical support for the odd glitch.
Like any small business that offers a professional service, the main objective of their site is to inform, create a level of trust, educate and convert leads into sales. If you search for a web design agency right now, you are going to find an abundance of businesses that are more than capable of designing an e-commerce solution that can achieve the objectives mentioned above. You then need to establish from your chosen web design agency what suitable options there are for the content management system for your site and also what hosting options are available. Go into further detail and you should ask what they can do to ensure the site loads quickly and their plan to ensure it remains secure.
Once you hire an agency to design, develop and look after your website you are starting a technological partnership. More than likely this partnership is likely to remain in place for years (assuming you are happy with service provided). That’s the thing, if you spend just a little time getting to know the web design agency you wish to work with at the start, before committing to any major projects then you are going to be confident going forward that you aren’t going to be stuck in a situation where you are unhappy with the service.
Getting to know what the web design agency values most, the quality of their work and how they treat their staff are just a few ways you can be sure you can see a blossoming partnership on the horizon. As with all partnerships, trust and respect are key.
Chopping and changing who you want to hire to look after your online presence is going to cost you a lot of time and money, not to mention all of those sleepless nights!
Technical support can come in many different packages. A basic level of support might include setting up new user accounts or resetting forgotten passwords. With technical support for a website, you are more than likely going to need it on an ongoing basis.
A great web design agency will always be able to provide you and your business with the tools you need to update pages, products, and copy. If you want to add something a bit more complex then again, a good agency should always be there to help you.
What makes a great web design agency is one that can provide you with a tailored support package with crystal clear details such as turnaround times, the person providing the support and the exact, detailed costs.
I remember a while back, someone that I worked alongside announced the launch of a new site they were the proud owner of. Super excited, they email around a brief description of their new venture along with a link. I decided to share the link on social media and what populated was an obscure, pixelated image of the logo along with a blunt description that said ‘HOME’.
This was their moment to shine online. No consideration had been taken to consider the open graph tags, the information that displays when somebody shares your webpage link on social media channels. Maybe, more importantly, was the complete lack of a proper title tag and the non-existent meta description.
Attention to detail, especially with something that can potentially be seen by the billions of people on the planet is crucial. Not every web design agency out there is going to ensure all your images are correctly sized, optimized and compressed. Accessibility is hugely important, are all of your image ‘alt’ tags going to be written correctly? There are so many elements that go into the makeup of a website and the ongoing servicing that comes with it. When looking for a web design agency to partner with we ask you to ensure you look for one that can also offer all of the other marketing skills required to keep a professionally run website succeeding. Make sure the agency can scale with your own business.
Article Written by Matt Partridge
Web Developer & Digital Marketing Specialist