20 February 2015

HOW TO FIND A GREAT DIGITAL AGENCY & KNOW IT WHEN YOU SEE IT


Why aren't you happy with your current digital agency?

DOES THIS SOUND FAMILIAR?

Your company hired a digital agency to design and build a new website. In the beginning everything is great; everybody gets on and everybody is happy, but as the project wears-on the agency stops retuning your calls so readily, meetings are harder to organise and changes that are required for the site to be finished take longer and longer to happen. Eventually you get a slightly antagonistic meeting where there is a lot of moaning, rolling of eyes and reasons why your requests are not good ideas and are technically impossible, only for them to agree to the ideas eventually anyway.

Finally the project is finished, but really it isn't; to get those final snags sorted would be too much like hard work, so it’s just not worth the hassle. The truth is that you are so fed-up with the agency and the whole process you never want to have anything to do with them again.

Of course it's not always like that, sometimes the process can be a joy. There are lots of great digital agencies where nothing is too much trouble and everything is possible - so what's the difference?

There are a few dodgy agencies out there, the good thing is they don't usually last long. In my experience they think the process of designing and building a website and running a digital agency is easy, adapting an...

"Any Monkey can do that!”

approach, before they realise that it requires a lot of hard work and attention to detail and so they pack it in and try something else. There is also the young casual freelancer, the boyfriend of the MD's daughter who simply disappears one day to go snowboarding! (these are genuine examples by-the-way). The digital industry is a young industry and sometimes an agency just doesn't have the experience; they will probably be very capable of building a great site for you, but it's the service, the attention to detail, project management and plain old simple communication that makes all the difference.

HOW TO FIND A GOOD AGENCY

So how to find a good agency? A recommendation is probably how we would all like to start, but if that is not an option for you where do you start?

Google is full of agencies and they can all the look the same as the next, so local is a good place to start. Local is not critical, but it is a good idea especially in the early days of a project when those initial face-to-face meetings are so important. Remember, great communication and being able to see the whites of their eyes is just as important when commissioning a digital agency as it is when you are doing any deal. Next have a good look at the agencies online presence. First their website. Does it look professional? Does it impress you? It is beyond the scope of this post to go into too much depth here, but we are talking about a simple good first impression. Do you like their website?

CASE STUDIES & PORTFOLIOS

When there is a lack of recommendations an agency’s Portfolio and Case Studies are a good indicator, as they should show actual projects completed for actual clients. This should give you some reassurance. You can also have a good look at the design of the work, but try not to use their Case Study and Portfolios as a catalogue, try to judge the quality of the work instead of looking for something you like. The agency should be able to design a look and feel just for your project.

THE BLOG

Does their website include a blog? If so it should give a good indication as to how good an agency is.
But how do you tell? No posts for a few months could mean they are busy, it could mean that they are out of business, it could also mean they just can't be bothered. If you think the latter might be the case then that might be a black mark against them as what else can't they be bothered with? A well maintained blog should be a good thing, it means that the agency is diligent and disciplined and has subjects to write about. A good agency blog should go back a few years; it means the company has longevity, if that's the case they should be good - after all they wouldn't have survived for so long if they weren't any good. This is good practice with regard to their social media as well.

LINKEDIN

LinkedIn is a great way to get the measure of a company via the company’s owner and staff. The Internet makes spies of us all.  You should be able to Google them by name, if available this should provide you with links to their LinkedIn page. If you have arranged to meet them, at least this way you will recognise them when you see them.

AS THE CLIENT WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?

Do your research, if-needs-be employ a consultant and know what you want before you initiate conversations. Brief the agency as to what you want and as much as possible stick to it; however make sure everyone understands that new ideas and requirements can come out of the woodwork as the project progresses. Also remember what you learned from working with the previous agency and without mentioning any names tell the new agency what happened, how it went wrong and how you would like things to work out this time.

ASK THE AGENCY

Ask the agency what they want to do for you. Ask them for ideas and to give you their experience, after all they should have done all this before many times. Don't feel patronised by techno babble, if you don't understand something, ask! The agency may very well feel embarrassed for not making things clear. You should try and understand with regards to technicals what you want, any special requirements can be added to the standard list of to-dos.

WHAT SHOULD BE OFFERED, WHAT SHOULD YOU ASK FOR?

A website should be well designed as well as being well programmed and technically up to date. It's no good having a technically brilliant piece of website development (DEV), guaranteed to work perfectly and achieve great rankings within Google only for the site to be ugly with a less than strong message. Literally none of the above matters if the website does not look fantastic. The saying ‘leading a horse to water…’ comes to mind here.

Your basic requirements should look something like this:

1. Great website design
2. Content Management System (CMS)
3. Search Engine Optimisation ready (SEO)
4. Mobile phone / Tablet compatible
5. Compatible with major web browsers
6. Blog (This will help with your SEO)
7. Socially compatible (Easy to share your content with visitors social networks)
8. Google Analytics (Monitor your site visits)

MISTAKES

It isn't always perfect but, if the agency and the client are sensible, balanced and reasonable there is no reason why a project can't be completed on time, on budget and to everyone’s satisfaction, with enough goodwill left over for the relationship to continue into the future.

These days much of our work comes from companies unhappy with the service they have received from their existing agencies and so give us a call. Their disappointment nearly always stems from a lack of communication with a lot of assumptions on both sides. Mistakes can be made, but if it is taken on the chin and sorted out right away surely everyone can be happy.

IN CONCLUSION THEN:

1. Check out LinkedIn
2. Is the Blog up to date?
3. Is the social media maintained?
4. Are there Case Studies?
5. How does the Portfolio look?
6. Local is beneficial
7. Are they well established?
8. Get a brief and a list of works in writing
9. Ask for a quote of costs in writing
10. Ask for a home page design before you commit

If all of the above looks good... Give them a call and arrange a meeting and remember to communicate.



CtA - LEAVE A COMMENT, COME BACK SOON.


Deshok is a small but well informed digital agency
very capable of delivering big things on a global stage.
To find out more about Deshok visit: www.deshok.com

When you're ready, CONTACT Deshok and let's talk about
where you want your business to go next.

CALL: +44 (0)1202 388538 - EMAIL: info@deshok.com

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