Choosing the right digital agency

As commerce and marketing on the internet continues to mature, an increasing number of companies are now considering their second (or third...) website.

For many, this is a crucial undertaking – more so than the commissioning of their first website.

Perhaps five years ago, they simply asked a friend of friend who could ‘do a bit of web design’. The results, perhaps were not as they anticipated... a weak, ineffective website – and critically – few enquiries. However, they didn’t know much about marketing or the web, and the cut-price offer seemed too good to refuse. It’s a website, right?

So the time arrives to create a new website. How do we go about it? Who do we choose to begin work on the project for us?

I’ve prepared five tips to help you to choose your next web designer, whatever your needs are – and hopefully you can avoid these pitfalls if the above sounds like your story!

1. Look for a relationship: You should be looking for a business aiming to start a long-term relationship with you, not just secure an initial order. Websites, like most marketing projects, are most effective when your supplier understands your business and your requirements.

2. Look for a good proposal: Ensure that your chosen supplier understands what you are looking for. Don’t settle for a one-page, hastily prepared quote for a project which is likely to take the company several days or weeks to complete. Ensure they document what they will do, and the level to which they will perform to avoid ambiguity and possible conflict later in the project.

3. Look for an appropriate range of skills: There is a significant difference between a graphic designer, a web designer and a web developer. Projects are often passed to companies or individuals who possess the wrong skill set. (Just because a plasterer works on houses, it doesn’t mean that he can rewire your home!)

4. Look for support: Try calling the company you intend to use a couple of times, early in the morning and late in the day. Responsiveness is a good indicator of professionalism, and if you can’t speak to someone now, what happens when there is a problem?

5. Look for a great portfolio: “You’re only as good as your last job” is a phrase we hear frequently – and it is very true. Check the recent portfolio, ask for case studies and testimonials – they should have a range of satisfied clients who will endorse their services.

Leon Calverley
Managing director