10 questions to ask yourself before briefing a web design agency

So you’ve decided it’s time to take the plunge and overhaul your website. Here are our top 10 questions to ask yourself before briefing a web design agency.

1 What is your budget?

It’s important to establish a budget range from the outset and discuss budgets with the agencies you meet with. You may not want to confirm the exact figures, but giving the agencies a guide will help everyone gauge what can be achieved within the budget, any concerns raised and decisions made early on. We’d recommend allocating a small contingency in case you decide to change the scope or add functionality during the course of the design and build as well.

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2 What do you want your new website to do?

Is it essentially a ‘brochure’ site using content and images you already have, is it a portal to drive traffic through to branches or distributors, an e-shop with extensive product catalogue and secure payment zone or perhaps it’s more a ‘resource centre’ to position your company as experts in your field. While it’s likely your website will have more than just one aim, understanding its main purpose will help focus attention on the most important elements if difficult decisions have to be made.

3 Is there a deadline?

Do you have a specific deadline you’re hoping to meet? If there are critical deadlines these should be shared with any agencies as it could affect their ability to deliver (perhaps due to other commitments or staff holidays) or their costs. Some agencies do make a ‘rush charge’ if deadlines are sufficiently short that additional resources are needed to meet the dates.

4 What functionality do you need?

Do you need a Blog, a live Twitter feed, will you want to update your news section regularly, will you want to be able to add new products or literature? Will you need to amend prices or create special offers? Is there an e-commerce requirement? Do you need to store lots of large files such as technical manuals or catalogues? The more you and your preferred agency know at the outset the better as functionality can extend timings and add costs, particularly if included at a later point when it might have to be ‘bolted on’ rather than incorporated in a planned way.

5 Who is your audience?

Think about who is your target audience – or audiences – and what you want them to do as a result of visiting your website. The site will need to appeal to them visually and deliver engaging content.

6 Does the web agency have experience in your sector?

Check agency websites and portfolios to see if they are more experienced in B2B or B2C. Or maybe they’ll have other clients with a similar audience, which will give you confidence in their ability to work with you and understand the market challenges.

7 Do they have SEO specialists?

In a busy marketplace it’s important to get as much search engine visibility as possible which means SEO should really be on your list of website must-haves.

8 Can the agency write the copy for you?

Looks aren’t everything; clear, well-written copy and a bold call to action will help your website work better for you. Unless you have the skills in-house, it’s important to have your copy professionally written or, at least, reviewed and edited to fit the style of your new website so it’s worth checking if your chosen agency has copywriters who can help refine your content.

9 Will the web agency provide hosting and on-going maintenance?

Some agencies tie you to their own hosting, which could be expensive, or monthly maintenance packages you may not need. Equally, they may want you to arrange hosting and deploy the files, which you may not have the skills, confidence or time to do. Make sure you choose an agency that has the flexibility to meet the needs of your business.

10 Is there chemistry?

Initial research online or asking among your own network should help you draw up a list of suitable web agencies. Make an initial enquiry call with three or four then shortlist down to one or two and arrange to meet to discuss your website in more detail using the information you’ve distilled from the above questions. And if it feels right – it probably is!

If you’d like to discuss working with Avid Creative on your website, call us on 01420 568127 or send us your details to find out more.

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