11 questions to ask a website agency before hiring them
Does a fresh New Year equal a fresh new website redesign? If you’re looking to hire an agency to design and develop your website, you want to make sure you’re asking the right questions. What do their timelines look like? What do they specialize in? Have they gotten any awards and recognitions? Where are their case studies? We want you to be prepared when picking an agency to work with. Here are 11 important questions to ask a website agency.
1. Can you give me a break down of your process?
Do they like to start with a learn and discovery meeting where you make them aware of your goals, or do you provide input along the way? What will the project timeline look like? At what point will you (the company) need to be involved, and at what point does the agency take steps on their own?
Why this is key: If your timeline is short to begin with, or if you’re on a tight budget, be prepared with whatever the agency needs from you right when they ask for it. In our experience, timelines stall when we’re waiting a long time for site feedback, content, or approval from a client. Deeply understanding the agency’s process helps you align your own processes to theirs, leading to a better experience and smoother communication.
2. What does your team structure look like?
Are you dealing with a group of two or twenty? Who will be communicating with you on a day-to-day basis? Is there a project manager that oversees things, or will your company be dealing directly with the website designers and developers on the project? And who’s in charge?
Why this is key: A sign of an efficient agency is a good structure. Make sure you know who will be doing the most correspondence with your company. Try to also gauge the best you can how often they’ll get back to you, and how open they are to last minute emails and requests.
3. Do you specialize in any particular industry/subject matter, or are you experts in a certain space?
Where do they feel most at home? Do they love creating flashy websites for the best and brightest in tech, or are they Renaissance Men/Women who dip their toes in a bit of everything?
Why this is key: Each agency has their own style when it comes to websites, and often the layout, navigation, and key features vary based on what industry they prefer or work in the most. If they’re experts in designing websites for banks and love mobile banking apps, but your company sells refrigerators, it might not be the best fit.
4. What core services do you offer?
Are they just website designers, or also website optimizers? Do I come up with my own strategy or can you tell me how the website is performing? What if I want a video?
Why this is key: Many agency websites boast pages and pages of services, but most almost always do one or two things the most, and best. Make sure you understand what exactly comes in the package deal if you sign on with them.
5. Is everything done in-house? Are there elements you outsource?
Is this agency a one-stop shop? Or do they employ some outside help when need be?
Why this is key: You should be aware at all times who will be working on your project. Many agencies have connections with other agencies and freelancers for certain services outside the normal scope of a project, and that’s fine. It’s just important to make sure the full project stays cohesive and you’re aware of the process.
6.What are some of the values your agency stands by?
What makes them tick? How did they get into website design? What are the three most important things that drive their work?
Why this is key: Whether through conference calls, by email, or out for coffee, you’ll most likely be dealing with these people a lot. It’s just good sense to get to know the people you’re working with. Understanding the agency’s core values or goals for the future will help you understand the direction they’ll take with your website.
7. Will my website be completely custom, or will you work off a pre-built theme?
How many unique pages will be designed? Is the site fully customized, partially customized, or are you fully working from a pre-existing theme?
Why this is key: Almost always, custom sites vs. sites working off a theme will be a large factor in the project budget. There are many websites out there masquerading as ‘fully custom’ when they’re actually not. Make sure you know what you’ll be paying for.
8. Have you received any recognition for your website design?
They may think their websites are the best on the internet, but has anyone else thought so? Are they proud enough of their work that they take the time to submit to different awards or design forums?
Why this is key: Awards and accolades don’t only show that the agency knows their stuff, but also shows they are committed to pushing themselves and putting their work on the web for all to see. In our opinion, you want to hire an agency that stays hungry.
9. What are some case studies you can show me with similar websites to mine?
Have they come across a beast like yours before? What are concrete examples of ways they improved a company website? Can you see some before and afters?
Why this is key: Ask the agency to provide you with a few examples of clients they’ve worked with in the same vertical as you, how the process went, and, if they ran any digital marketing campaigns for them, what the results were like. **IMPORTANT**When looking through the agency’s portfolio, don’t forget to check for responsive design! Make sure their work looks great on a mobile phone and tablet. Even the most beautiful desktop site can be a mess on a smartphone. With the way the world’s moving (all mobile all the time), any agency worth it’s salt is a mobile-friendly one.
10. Do you stay with me after the website is launched?
After your new website is taken live, do they stick with you for monthly check-ins? Does it cost more to stay connected with them? Do they help you out post-launch or pull a design and dump?
Why this is key: Every agency has their own process, so make sure you know what the post-launch plan is. If the agency takes over everything about the redesign from setup to launch, how will you make any necessary updates or changes to the site? Do they transfer everything over to your company once the website is done? Also make sure you know what’s happening to the old website once your new one goes live for the masses.
11. Why should I choose you over any other website agency?
There are a thousand and a half digital and website design agencies out there. What makes this agency different?
Why this is key: Why should you choose this agency? It’s just like the ‘what sets you apart’ question at normal job interviews. Know their strengths, ask about their weaknesses, and know exactly what they plan to do to make your company shine.