A web developer that is employed by a digital agency allows you the time to do what you really want to do – develop websites.
Having a new website design for your business is one of the most daunting but also the most exciting decisions that a business owner would ever make. You want to improve your business, put your brand out there, and let the world know how awesome you and your company are. As a business owner who’s willing to make the investment, you want the outcome of the new web design to be topnotch, a clear reflection of your brand, and achieve the business objectives you want to get from your investment. Imagine if things go south. Imagine if a $10,000 web design facelift for your website fails miserably that you almost cancel the contract. I’m sure you don’t want that to happen, right? If you want to find out more how to make this business investment to work smoothly, read this guide before you start reaching out to design agencies.
The Prep Time
Before you start collaborating with any web design studio, you have to commit to a process that I call the Prep Time (duh). This is the stage where you have to vet the agency that you’d like to carry out your vision for your website. You have to screen the agencies before you give them your hard-earned money. It’s an investment and you would want to make an informed decision. It may take some time so you might want to add the prep time to your project timeline to manage your expectations. This could take at least three days to one full week (or more). To speed up the process you can do the following:
- Ask recommendations from your network.
If you know someone in your network who has an awesome website, you might want to ask a referral from them.
- Check out web design awarding bodies and organizations.
There are organizations that recognize design studios for their superb portfolio and projects. That is a good place to hunt the agency that would turn your dream website into reality.
- Job Boards, Directories, and Listings.
Of course, you can check out the local directories, LinkedIn, and even Facebook for agency recommendations.
After checking all those places, you have to shortlist agencies that you believe can carry out what you imagine for your website. Now that you have the shortlist, you have to check if they meet the criteria below. The best website design studio can meet most of these items if not all.
- Do they have a good reputation?
Check the reviews on Facebook. Search online if there are irate clients who blogged about their experience with the agencies you shortlisted.
- Can you call their previous clients as references?
If you can, that’s a great indicator.
- How about testimonials?
A written testimonial with the contact information of a previous client is a good sign. Video testimonials from previous clients mean an agency has gone above and beyond in their performance. For previous clients to spend their time and shoot a video testimonial for a web design agency, that means they love the output they received.
- Do you feel comfortable working with them?
If they have this heavy negative vibe, you might want to discount the possibility of working with them.
- Do they answer their phones?
If you’ve tried several times and no person picked up, there’s a 99% chance you would experience the same while working with them.
These are just some guidelines to help you identify the top agencies fit for the challenge of giving your website a makeover. Two to three meetings with them would confirm and clarify how polished they are with their craft. Before you sign anything, make it sure that you understand and you communicate four core details in your project brief:
- Your business objective – Do you just want a rebrand? Or you want a website that would guide the prospects to sales funnels? Do you want more sales? Do you want to make your website more professional? Communicate with as deep as possible with your prospect agency.
- Your Brand and Story – You have to make it sure that the agency you’ll be working with will capture the brand and story of your business. You’re not just another business who wants people’s money. You’re awesome and you bring value to the world. If you haven’t work on the branding side of your business, some clarity must be established before you make this investment.
- Scope of the Project – Define the scope of the project as detailed as you can. Nothing irritates agencies than receiving uncompensated extra requests from their clients. Do you just want five static pages that introduce your business to the world? Or do you want a backend solution that lets your website visitors log in and accomplish certain actions? The good news is you can add a clause in your contract that says you can request for additional work and you agree to provide additional compensation as agreed upon by both parties.
Now that you know how to screen the service providers and have prepared the project brief for your new website design, we have some reminders that you need to know before starting any work. These tips and mindset shift will surely make the project smooth sailing:
- Design studios are neither your employees nor an extension of your company. They are service providers who are offering a solution for your specific needs. Now, you have to understand that they will not be there eight hours a day to keep you updated on the progress of the project. They have to provide you with periodic updates but never a daily update about the project. Usually, they have project management frameworks that they follow. Make it sure that you understand when and how you will get an update on your website.
- Learn the basics of how websites work. We know that tech stuff is not your thing. Professionals would understand that but still, you have to know at least the most basic aspects of how a website goes online, what’s a domain, a static page, a conversion, landing page, click through, and other things that help your business run online.
- Set your mind for a long-term relationship. The output of the project is just the start of having a website. You may need help in optimizing your website design in the future to reap its maximum potential. You will need the agency’s help you hired even if in the future you plan to hire a new web design provider.
- No such thing as a perfect design. It doesn’t mean that you have to settle for mediocre design. You have to set your mind that it can be improved as the project progresses.
- You have to form the key stakeholders from your company that will collaborate with the web design agency. Select key people who will help you decide and provide feedback to your designers. Generally, if you have an in-house sales/marketing professional, you will need their opinion on your new website design.
- Keep your end of the bargain. If web copy isn’t part of your contract with the web design studio, you have to make it sure that you already have it ready when requested by the web designers.
So now that you’re done with the Prep Time, let’s dive in and turn that website design into reality! Here’s how you can successfully work, collaborate, and provide feedback to your web designers. Welcome to the Game Time!
So you’ve found your web designer, you’ve already met with them, have reviewed and signed the contract. What’s next?
Usually, there’s a kick-off meeting where they will orient or remind you of the timeline and how they run projects (if you haven’t discussed it in your prior meetings with them). After the kickoff meeting, this is the part I call Game Time. Yep, they’re going start working on your website. In this stage, there are three areas where most projects fail. These are the things you should know:
- Follow-Ups and Updates –
Remember that there should be an agreed upon timeline for the project. Regular updates should also be scheduled. If the agency is underperforming in this aspect, you should effectively communicate that you mean business and you want to follow the timeline that everyone signed up for.
- Your Design vs. Best Practice –
When you checked the first draft of the web design, you realized that you want to implement something anti-mainstream. Your web designers are in the best position to advise you on the best practices. You may want to compromise and settle it with data. There are ways to measure if a design is effective like heat maps, click maps, and conversion.
- Communication and Feedback –
Be professional. If there’s something you like to change make it sure that you go above and beyond in communicating your ideas and questions to your web designers. There are many ways to do this. Check out the list of tools below that you can use to communicate your ideas.
Tools You Can Use to Communicate Your Ideas
For Diagramming, Mindmapping, Prototyping, and MockUps
For Providing Feedback
With all these tools, there’s no reason you can’t get your ideas across your web design team. Most of the tools in the list don’t require you to be a tech geek. Most of them are actually built for non-tech users.
The Game Time will end when everything is ready for the Finishing Touch phase. This is the part where you and the team will refine the design and functions of the website. It’s an exciting phase.
This could be the final stage of your collaboration with your web design team. However, when bugs and glitches are found, of course, all must be fixed before the official launch of the website. Here are some of the things that your web design team should check:
- Responsiveness – Does your website fit nicely on mobile and desktop devices?
- Forms – Check if all forms are capturing the right inputs from users.
- Landing pages and Funnels – Do they look good and flow based on how it was designed in a diagram.
- Speed – Less than four seconds is ideal load time.
- General User Experience – Your designers should know the best practices in this area but of course, you can give your own feedback.
Once everything is all set, it’s time for the grand turnover of your new website! Ta-da! Web design studios don’t just dump their clients with the invoice. You can expect some after sale service.
- Web design is an investment. You must do your homework before shelling out money.
- Your business deserves a website that will reflect your brand and meet your business objectives.
- Screen the right people to turn your vision into reality
- Working with web designers is EASY with a right mindset.