How to choose a web design and development agency?

Published by Marc
5 Mins


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If you are here, it is perhaps that you seek a partner for the installation of your Web site. You are probably looking for information that would help you make the right choice of agency (Walter Interactive's...). You are probably thinking; there are so many agencies out there, how can I be sure to work with the one that suits me best?

Already working with an agency?

If you are already working with an agency and wondering if Walter Interactive is for you, you should know that we are a solid company that has been working for many years with major Quebec companies such as Voyages Bergeron, Passion Monde, Groupe Duval, Bijouterie Italienne, to name a few. We offer strategy, design and development services for websites. Our team includes: project managers specialized in the digital domain who have developed a specific approach to design effective websites (SEO-SEM) without giving you headaches, an international team of front end and back end developers who work in a fast pace, graphic designers who know how to put your idea into images and maximize digital opportunities, UI/UX designers who work side by side with the programmers and deliver quality. It is also important to note that our team is young and dynamic, that we are a great place to work, that we are not only passionate but also very dedicated. We love our clients and you will love us, we are sure. See our references.

Looking for an agency and want to get organized?

If, on the other hand, you are not yet working with an agency, we would like to offer you some tips to organize and facilitate your search process. To do so, we offer you a list of elements to consider with suggestions to guide your analysis.

We start with this:

Identify your priority needs

Generally, agencies specialize in strategy, design or web development. All agencies offer all of these services, but it's a good idea to work with the agency whose specialty is in line with your most important need (and possibly your budget). At Walter Interactive, for example, we offer strategy and design services, but our strength is web development in particular.

It is therefore necessary to consider:

If you are not sure of the best web approach to achieve your business goals, consider an agency that specializes in digital strategy. You'll be well-supported in finding the best way to connect with your target audience through your web presence.

If your business plan suggests the implementation of a very innovative website, and the differentiation criterion is the most important for your success, it is appropriate to turn to an agency known for its design capabilities.

If, on the other hand, you have a very precise idea of your needs or if your site requires important technical requirements, it is better to turn to an agency that specializes in development (and one that can do it quickly at a competitive price).

Have a budget

It is possible to deploy a website for as little as $5,000, but some sites are so strategic to their business that hundreds of thousands of dollars, even millions, are spent on them. When it comes time to store for an agency and discuss your project, it is important not to get carried away. You must first define the budget available for this initiative.

Building a site can easily lead to many secondary costs. Moreover, after the site is online, you will inevitably need to optimize your pages and keep it up to date. It is therefore important to reserve a part of your budget for these operating costs.

A good agency will inform you of these costs in advance and try to eliminate as many as possible. They will be able to tell you if the costs of these services are built into your estimate or if they are additional services that you must pay for separately.

With this information and knowing your priorities, the agencies will be able to articulate your budget, no matter how large or small, around them.

Consider the resources and skills available internally

If you are looking for a business partner, you are looking for an organization that specializes in the digital field and has the relevant experience, knowledge and skills.

This does not mean that you do not have experience and expertise within your own organization. Perhaps you are in fact looking for an agency to fill a chronic or occasional gap in certain roles. If this is the case, take the time to inventory the availability of internal collaborators and define your needs, working relationships and desired hierarchy (see table below).

If you have never dealt with an agency or developed a web platform and there are no people dedicated to digital within your organization, refer to the roles identified below, these are the ones needed for most digital projects. NB: Keep in mind that the same person can wear several hats!

To designer

Role Available internally Required from the Agency Work-Relationship
Project Manager Yes Yes Our in-house project manager will work in conjunction with your project manager. Both will be the respective points of contact for both organizations.
Brand Strategist Yes No Ensures brand cohesion and consistency of corporate image and development.
Content strategy Yes Yes Work led by our strategist, reviewed by the agency
Editor No Yes The texts will be written by the agency and reviewed by our project manager
Translator No Yes The texts must have been translated by the agency and will be reviewed by our project manager
UI and UX designer (user interface and user experience) No Yes Mock-ups must be provided by the agency and approved by us.
Graphic Designer No Yes Images must be provided by the agency and approved by us.
Frontend and backend developer (xHTML/CSS/JS) No Yes All programming must be handled by the agency.

See article How much does a website really cost?

Create a short list of candidate agencies

There are many agencies on the market, it will not be possible for you to evaluate all of them. You will need to create a short list of candidates. In our opinion, there is no point in exploring your project with too many agencies. A list of 3 to 4 well-chosen candidate companies, through known or validated sources, will ensure that you get enough information to properly compare offers.

Certainly start by getting referrals from people around you, but remember that one person's needs are not necessarily the same as the other's.

Also do some online research (is their own website well designed, do they appear relatively high in search engines and are they active on their social networks?) and get names of satisfied customers.

Do your due diligence by contacting past or present clients. Here are some questions you might want to ask:

  • How long have you been a client of the agency?
  • What kind of projects are you working on with the agency?
  • Was the project delivered on time?
  • What are the services offered by the agency you use?
  • What internal resources are working on this type of project?
  • Overall, what is your budget for this project?
  • What is the agency's greatest strength?
  • What is one thing the agency still needs to work on?
  • Would you hire them for another project?

Interview agencies as you would an employee

When you meet with the web agencies on your list, have previously prepared a list of questions with a weighting grid according to your expectations and your time and money constraints.

Here are some examples of questions to ask:

  • Which sites are you most proud of and why? (Make sure these sites are broadly consistent with the quality you are looking for).
  • Who is your favorite customer with and why?
  • How do you differentiate yourself from your competitors? (Note if these skills are your most important needs)

Also, find out if the agency has ever done business with a company in your industry. If so, ask them how those mandates went and what was the most difficult.

If they've never worked with a company in your field, that's not necessarily a concern. Just ask how they will approach this new industry. A fresh look can lead to a new and effective approach that won't look like a copy and paste.

In any case, look for the agency that you feel is most transparent with you, which brings us to the last step...