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Look for how your agency responds to issues.

Whether it’s updating your company's website or developing a new one, choosing which digital agency to work with is a critical decision.

We’ve all heard horror stories of how a previous provider couldn’t deliver, wouldn’t respond, or worse dumped an unexpectedly large invoice at the end of a project. Here are some often overlooked factors to consider when making your choice.

Website Performance

A website needs to load quickly – Google’s research shows 53% of mobile visitors abandon websites that take over three seconds to load. Luckily there are a number of tools you can use to measure the performance of your site. GTmetrix is a simple, free site which tells you your load time and total page size. Ask your agency what they’re doing to optimise their build performance.

Responsiveness

This point is not about whether your new site is “responsive” (it’s 2018, your website should be mobile-friendly). This is about how the agency performs when issues arise.

Nearly every piece of code will have bugs. Apple employs an estimated 1800 software engineers to work on iOS releases, but still release iPhones with bugs – a security issue discovered in September caused iPhones to crash when trying to render a piece of HTML.

It’s unrealistic to expect your agency to write bug-free code. What you should look for is how quickly they respond to issues, whether they use SLAs (service level agreements) and how bugs are reported and tracked.

Ask your agency

Accessibility

It’s a common trap (for designers and clients alike) to only design for our own needs. But you are not your audience. By making your website accessible, you can improve the usability of the site for all users.

Around one in five of the UK population has a disability – so the numbers alone provide a strong business case. But accessibility overlaps with many fundamental web design principles (eg. SEO, readability, mobile usability). Embedding it from the start improves the long-term maintainability and efficiency of a site.

Inclusive design takes things a step further. It asks us to consider the temporary, situational impairments we encounter every day, from watching video with the sound off, to using tech in rural areas, to screen-glare, or trying to use your phone one-handed!

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Content

Content is king, and has been as far back as 1996 when Bill Gates uttered the phrase. Your digital presence is defined by your content and your next digital agency should focus on content front and centre. Ask them if they perform a content audit, what content collation tools they recommend, and if they have any example content plans.

Value, not price

Obviously budget is a big factor in choosing your agency but, as in many aspects of business, the cheapest is rarely the best and will often end up costing much more long-term.

It’s increasingly straightforward to create a website using online tools like Wix in a short time frame for a small budget. But will the resulting site address your business needs? Will it load fast enough to hold your target audience's attention? Will you be able to easily update your content? Will it be able to talk to any systems you already use?

Hand-in-hand with budget goes timeframe – if someone promises that your new app or website will be ready in 2 weeks, prepare to be underwhelmed.

Don't be afraid to have the budget conversation upfront, if your agency know you have a budget in mind it will help them create a solution that's right for you and one which will ensure your site is future-proofed.

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Relationships

Digital projects should be long-term partnerships, so it is essential you find a company you can work with and who understand your business. In an ideal world your agency would handle everything in-house, but on occasion it may be necessary to bring in a specialist. When this happens, make sure roles and responsibilities are clearly defined and you always know who your first point of contact is.

Are you thinking about about a new website? Or a refresh to your existing site? Then why not drop us a line to chat some more…

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