A good place to start is to try and find an agency who have expertise in the right area. Whilst you don’t want to choose a company who have just built a website for your main competitor, choosing an agency who have experience working on sites similar to your own, be it in terms of size, sector or functionality, has a definite advantage.
Look for an agency who offer all of the services you need. For example, if you are building a website or even an entire brand from scratch it would be time consuming (and probably more expensive) to use a separate creative agency to supply design ideas to an independent developer. Using an agency that offers branding, design, development and SEO will be a smoother journey and more than likely deliver a better end result.
On the surface it may not seem to be an important consideration, but it’s worth asking how big an agency is. A large, global agency with lots of awards may tick a lot of boxes, but if your business is small or starting up, you may well get lost amongst their more lucrative accounts. You may also be paying for a layer of unnecessary account management, which can add up when you’re paying by the hour. A small local agency may be able to provide the same service as a big London agency at a fraction of the cost, with the benefit of a single point of contact who will make it their mission to really understand your business.
It’s not only important to find an agency who can work to your budget, it also helps to understand what’s included in any quotes you receive. There are several layers to building a website, from the initial planning, design and technical development, to populating it with content and optimising it for search. Transparent costing will help you compare the quotes you receive, allow you to ask questions and make sure you are spending your budget in the right place; as well as giving you a good indication of the way the company operate.
Once you’ve found an agency that you think fits, ask them to provide examples of their work and testimonials or recommendations from previous or existing clients. A good agency will be able to supply you with proof of the great work that they’ve done, and if you like what you see, you’re already halfway there.
Last, but by no means least, do you like them? You will have to work closely with them, so don’t underestimate the importance of gut feeling. To really deliver an agency should ask more questions than they answer. You want them to challenge you, advise you and to really get under the skin of your business, and all of that is much easier if you feel you can trust them and that you can work with them.
When picking the right agency for your business, don't get distracted by flashy pitches and presentations. Focus on what’s important to you and look for a company that will understand your requirements and deliver against your objectives. Be sure to ask yourself:
And, once you’ve asked all the right questions, trust your gut instinct.