Navigating in the world of web development can be a challenging task for any business owner or manager. So, it’s not surprising that many companies and organizations seek a trustworthy partner that can meet and manage their digital needs – be it performance improvement, website and server maintenance or plugin development.
Whether you’re looking for some small interface reworks, speed enhancement , ads optimization or complete redesign, choosing the right web development agency to outsource is a big move that should be taken seriously. Your partner has to be reliable and ready to accept your goals as their own. At the end of the day, not all companies are the same, and your choice will be detrimental to your brand’s success and to your business’ bottomline.
There are many boxes to check prior to making a final decision. So, in this article, we have prepared some tips to help you ensure that you don’t miss out on anything. Read on to discover how to find the best web development agency for your business needs.
1. Know What You Need and How Much It Would Cost
The very first thing in the process of finding your true agency match is to be clear about what you want your website to ultimately achieve and which features it has to have to make that possible.
If, for example, you wish to:
- Generate more leads.
- Sync your website data to your CRM system.
- Integrate a marketing automation tool or link with another marketing platform;
- Collect payments or donations.
- Offer your users to fill out forms directly on your site so you can submit them to your team.
Then you might also consider adding features such as:
- User-friendly navigation.
- Content with better SEO.
- Pages that are optimized for conversions.
- Secure payment gateways and online forms.
- HTTPs protocol and a SSL certificate.
The more you understand your goals, the better you will be able at communicating them to your prospective web agency partner. And the better your conversations with them will be. Hence, it’s good to prepare a list of all your needs, goals, nice-to-haves, and must-haves.
It’s also good to have an idea of what budget you can allocate. Most of the best web development agencies usually price their work on a per hour basis and the final cost depends on your requirements and the complexity of the project. So, you need to take into account the hours needed to realize your ideas when setting your priorities. The more pages, integrations and features a project has, the more time it will take to be completed and, hence, the more it will cost.
When deciding on your budget, remember to be flexible. Different agencies have different sets of expertise and varying price ranges. So make sure to pick the one that can meet your demands and fit within your budget. To get a good estimation of the resources you have to allocate, you should communicate every detail. This will help you have a more realistic view of what is the value of your project and better understand the proficiency of the agency and its services as well as the additional benefits that come with it.
The timeline of the project is another essential thing you need to be clear on when you begin contacting a web agency. For example, asking an agency to build you a website of a couple of pages, add a few integrations, create custom content, and do a potential migration of databases, may seem like an easy task, but actually could be a rather lengthy project. Or simply wanting to make your website faster and appear on the first page on Google may sound like a quick fix, but in reality it could be a six-month long project that costs a lot.
So, if you expect it to be perfectly done in two weeks, better equip yourself with some patience, as good things take time.You also need to properly identify the goal of your project and avoid changing your mind during the process, as tweaks may end up costing you more. You should also remember that a website should be constantly monitored and updated to meet the rising trends and user demands.
2. Consider the Expertise and Project Portfolio
You can’t deem a web development agency to be the right fit for your business without evaluating their expertise and range of services. These two can give you valuable information about how the project will be managed. Looking into case studies and previous client feedback will give you an idea whether the company will do the job according to your standards. Moreover, it will help you better estimate if the prospective partner will be a good overall fit.
Before settling on an agency it’s important to be aware of what it is really capable of doing for you. Experience is an account of the work an agency has done. Expertise, on the other hand, provides evidence of its competence and efficiency.
In other words, when you’re taking a look at all the projects a prospective partner has completed in the past, you should also consider what valuable knowledge it has acquired along the way.
You can start by examining the kind of projects your would-be partner has worked on. There are a few things in particular to take a closer look into.
- Company size of the clients – Businesses at different scales require different skill sets, so it’s important to check if the agency caters more to smaller or larger businesses.
Industry experience – Some agencies operate only in a specific industry, while others may have a more diverse portfolio. Regardless, it’s good to go a little bit more in depth on your research to find out what their approach with new clients is, how successful they are at it as well as what challenges they’ve faced.
- Established processes – No matter how different client needs are, a good potential partner should have some established processes in place that help make the design and development straightforward and easy.
- Expert knowledge – A team of knowledgeable experts is a must, so that your future partner agency can successfully meet your business goals and needs, support your website after it’s live, and even offer ongoing services to help your business grow.
An agency’s project portfolio can give you valuable insights on the creativity and complexity of designing well-functioning web solutions. When browsing through this list, make sure to examine in more detail the user experience of the design as well as the core features. Maybe you can find something you really like, but hadn’t thought about before, so you can ask the agency if it would be possible to implement it for you.
When reviewing the portfolio consider things like:
- Does it follow the latest web design trends?
Do the websites of different clients look similar in terms of structure, navigation, features, design, etc.?
- Has the agency been complimented on their work by a pristine body?
It’s important that you like the work of your would-be trusted partner and are confident in their expertise, so you can ensure the value you can get is worth the cost you pay.
3. Evaluate the Range of Services
Websites come in all shapes, formats and sizes, and to ensure a good experience for both yourself and your partner agency you shouldn’t overlook the technical side of improving your website. A good understanding of the web development process is crucial to making sure that the new project is completed on time and meets all the necessary requirements.
You need to be aware of the direction you want to take as well as the technical stack of your agency. You can start by covering the basics, such as:
- What Content Management System (CMS) will you recommend? – Your CMS will determine how easy it will be for you to update the content and work on your site once the design is completed. It’s important that the CMS used can help you meet your needs, is easy to manage, is search engine friendly and scalable.
- How much design work will the site need? – The amount of design work you’d need will vary depending on if you want a complete redesign, or new features. It will also make a difference if you have an idea in mind or you’re open to suggestions.
- Will the website be completely custom? – Websites with many custom-built features require every single design and layout component to be created by the agency, with the expertise of a qualified developer. It requires more time and resources, which is why you have to discuss this thoroughly and in advance.
- How much marketing assistance would you need, if any? – Consider what you have in-house and what you’d prefer to outsource. For instance, think if you’d require help with the marketing part of the project, maybe you could use some assistance with user-journey strategy planning. Or perhaps you’d like the help of a content team for the copywriting part of your site.
- Would the finished website be scalable? – The number of monthly views your website generates could be detrimental to the scale it should be operating at. The more visits you want to accommodate, the more optimization it will require.
- Will it be optimized for search engines and page speed? – There are specific technical best practises regarding page speed and SEO that the agency should be able to do. Ask your agency what is their specific approach and try to understand how they will make sure you have the right technical optimizations and the right content.
- What kind of testing and quality control checks do you perform before the launch? – It’s important that your website renders smoothly on different browsers and devices. Your trusted agency should perform cross-browser and cross-platform testing across devices. Moreover, it should also have an internal quality assurance checklist to ensure that everything works well before the launch.
- How will you handle the hosting, maintenance and security? – These are essential factors for the success of your website. You should be well-aware of the hosting environment and security measures that the agency is offering. Also, you should understand how the maintenance and backups of the CMS will be handled, so that your site is performing optimally.
Questions like these and more is what you would ask an agency before you begin work with them.
You have to keep in mind that once the actual process begins you have to know who will be the decision maker on your side of the partnership if and when unexpected challenges arise. Be prepared to have discussions with the development team so you can better understand what they can do for your website and the resources they would require.
4. Assess the Agency’s Credibility
In addition to looking at an agency’s range of services, you should also determine their credibility and experience. You can start by looking at social proof and reading through client testimonials. This is a good way to see for yourself how happy clients are with their websites, the level of customer support they’ve received from the agency, and if they mention any of the team members by name.
Check reviews on sites like Clutch, Google, Facebook, and so on. Also, look at the testimonials on the agency’s website. However, be careful if the only place you can find reviews is on their website. Make sure you dig deeper before meeting with a potential partner.
Additionally, you can ask for clients references. This will give you another perspective on the work of the agency so you can better understand how your web development requests will be handled. To get the most information, try calling the references instead of emailing them – you can receive much more information from a phone call than in writing.
Last, but most definitely not least, examine your agency’s website carefully. Does their site appear high in search results? Are their pages organised properly and do they offer a seamless navigation? What kind of content do they share and do you find the quality satisfactory?
5. Insist on Full Transparency
While looking into the credibility of a potential partner, make sure you don’t miss out on any transparency red flags. If you don’t see an address, client list, bios and contact information on the agency’s website, then it’s hardly worth your time to get in business with them. Furthermore, iIf it seems like an agency is hiding something, chances are it probably is.
Follow how consistent they are in their communication. Notice if the same people are handling your account. Make sure you receive regular status updates and that the process is clearly explained to you. Beware of undisclosed, but important details, and outlandish promises at cheap rates.
6. Ask Yourself: What Do I Really Want From This Partnership?
When you have narrowed down the list of notable candidates, you should ask yourself a very important question – what do I really want from this partnership? Different businesses would want different things from their agency. Developing a website may have it’s complexities, but it should also be a creative process for both parties. So, it’s worth considering how well an agency can align with your business’s personality and culture, as well as how excited you’re to work with them.
To get to know your agency a little bit before meeting with them, you can look them up online. Their social media accounts can give you a feel of the work dynamic. Their team page can help you find out what specific expertise the team members have. And, if you’d like to see how socially responsible they are, you can check out what local community projects they have organised or have been part of.
Later on, when you have your first meeting with your potential web development partener you can get a more tangible idea of what their culture is like. Notice whether they make you feel welcome, if they listen to your concerns and ideas, and, of course, if they are excited about your project.
Remember that you will be working with them for a rather long time, so it’s really important that you know that their culture and personality fit well with your own.
When looking for the right web agency, make sure you know what you will need from them. Set clear business goals, make a list of the expertise you have and of the ones you need to outsource to an agency.
Take your time, conduct thorough research and evaluate the range of services of your potential partners. Your website is the first point of contact that your customers have with your business, so it’s vital that it has the right features.