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!
||Required from the Agency
||Our in-house project manager will work in conjunction with your project manager. Both will be the respective points of contact for both organizations.
||Ensures brand cohesion and consistency of corporate image and development.
||Work led by our strategist, reviewed by the agency
||The texts will be written by the agency and reviewed by our project manager
||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)
||Mock-ups must be provided by the agency and approved by us.
||Images must be provided by the agency and approved by us.
|Frontend and backend developer (xHTML/CSS/JS)
||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...