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Top 10 Questions To Ask Your Agency.

After 14 years in the industry, nothing frustrates me more than a web agency not asking their client the right questions about a new project, or the client not knowing what to ask their agency to be able to judge the difference in quality and skill between agencies’.

The problem for the client is that the experience of getting a website is not like buying a product.  It’s about delivering an ongoing service, developing a strong relationship and understanding and setting out goals to design and build something that not only looks great but functions for their customer.  Thus, you can never just compare a website proposal based on its price – you must value the journey and the result along with the costs.

For example, the cost of an airline ticket is not just to get you to your destination, it’s to do with the whole journey; the staff on the flight, the comfort of the seats, the quality of the food and the experience of the pilot.

Would you choose a cheap and cheerful airline to go on a long-haul journey? Probably not.  Ask yourself “why?”. You don’t want your journey to be delayed, or for the seats to be uncomfortable and the food to be inedible.

With a website, it’s the same deal.  No two web agencies’ are the same.  Most agencies’ will get you to the destination, but ask yourself “how was the journey?”  Are you left frustrated and tired or pleased and happy with the result?

Below are some important points I feel every company needs to ask the next agency they want to work with.

Is it the right time to change?

It’s important to begin with questions to understand the purpose of the website update or redesign.

If your new agency is not asking these questions, then you should!  Ask them if you think it is time for your website to change and a professional agency will be open and honest – maybe a complete overhaul isn’t needed – maybe a tidy up will do.

Talk to your agency – tell them what you like and don’t like, what you have and what you need; is it the design of the site? Does it need a new function? Are you just not happy with the other agency? If so, then explain why so you don’t end up repeating history.

What makes your company different?

Take your time with this question as it’s a very personal choice.  As no two agencies’ are the same – it’s important to find out what makes one different from the other.

Ultimately you want to find the team that best fits you in terms of personality, their skill sets and feel you get the best return of investment.  Judging an agency based just on price is never going to deliver results if you don’t like their approach, the personalities of the team and even how quickly they produce the website for you.

Will I own the website?

A question as an agency we don’t get asked a lot and a very important one.  Working with some agencies’ means they have copyright of your website, or by using a third party company the agency nor you own the platform the website is built in.

At Big Pixel we believe in full ownership.  The client is paying for the work and we believe it is only right that you own the source files at the end of a project if requested.  By being linked to one company’s platform means you are stuck with the agency or they could charge you an admin fee to leave them.

It’s far better for you to own it and control where or who looks after your website.

What are the ongoing costs?

Hidden charges are a pain for anyone – we all like to control our costs and this leads to a question that needs asking even after getting your quotation from a new agency.

The quotation price for the website can’t always be compared when the cost of additional services is higher with another agency.  So, don’t be afraid to ask what additional ongoing fees there may be.

Some examples to ask include:

  • How much does it cost to update the site?
  • What is your support contract?
  • Are there any licence fees or 3rd party costs?
  • What are the annual hosting and domain costs?
  • Are there any admin fees to leave or switch services?

Measure what you are getting from each company – no two companies will have the same supporting options.

How will you measure the success of my website?

You may have an idea of how you will judge the success of the website – but ask the agency how they would judge the success of the website.

It’s important to ask a different viewpoint as websites have different targets based on whom you speak to within the company and different again to suppliers, customers and partner companies to your own company.

We would consider it a warning sign if an agency you are talking to cannot give you immediate suggestions – it means they either don’t understand your business or target markets.

It’s also important to ask who, other than the agency, that might need to be involved to achieve these goals.  For example, SEO, Graphic, Print and PPC specialists are all good at what they do – but not necessarily specialists at web design or development.   Partnering up can lead to greater success.

How will you manage my website?

Asking how a company manages your project from start to finish shows clarity of their processes in place on not only making your project a reality but handling multiple projects at once.  It’s foolish to think an agency is working on only your website.   Do not hesitate to ask what the timelines are, when do you expect it to go online and how do we fit into their diary.

An inexperienced agency will not have anything in place and not be able to answer this question.

Examples of current work

At Big Pixel we believe we are only as good as our most recent work.

If you are not shown any work, ask for it.  More importantly, ask how they relate to your own project.  What features should you be looking at that are either similar to or give you an idea of how your project might look or function.

It’s important to highlight that example work does not always have to be from the same industry – in fact, an agency showing a wide range of industries can apply a more diverse range of ideas to your company’s website – even if they haven’t worked in your industry or sector before.

Do you complete all of your work in-house?

It may come as a surprise to you but not all web agencies’ complete everything under one roof.

Some agencies’ may have a team from a different country working on your project making communication and workflow less streamlined than it could be.  At Big Pixel, we have an in-house team that complete all of our web work from start to finish which we believe is the best way to produce the best and most efficient solution for our clients.

Is there a contract?

Surprisingly, not all web agencies’ have a contract which can be bad news for both the client and the agency.

Having a contract in place protects both parties and ensures that important terms are agreed upon before beginning a project.  Things such as:

  • Payments Terms
  • Timescales
  • Ownership of assets

If your agency does not have a contract – ask for one!

References

Finally, this question could prove to be one of the most influential to you when selecting an agency.  Don’t be afraid to ask for a company reference and contact them directly – just like you would for a job interview.   Don’t just rely on an agencies’ word and presentation – ask direct from the customers that know them the best.

By asking the agency for some references or making a few calls yourself – you will know what the aftercare and general feeling of the agency is.

Some very basic questions could include:

  • How are they to work with?
  • Are you happy with the end result?
  • Would you recommend the company to me?
  • Do you have any concerns I should we aware of?

It’s also important to make sure you speak to the right person within a company – as not everyone in the company may have first-hand experience with a web agency.

I hope these 10 simple questions will empower you at your next agency meeting and assist you in making the right choice for your new project.

Author


Christopher McGuicken
Founder & Managing Director

Geek, gamer, traveller and lover of food, the founder of Big Pixel Creative, has spent the last 15 years promoting his passion for great customer service in the digital transformation industry.

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