This guide is intended to help small businesses and entrepreneurs choose a suitable match for their web design and development needs.
With such wealth of web design and development companies in and around Bromley and London, a lot of options available.
Here you can find most important decision factors and insight into web creation process. Plus some really good reads on various aspect of web design and online marketing as a whole.
WHERE TO START: Quality, Budget and Time
1# Start with end in mind
A lot of businesses spend large amounts of money on beautifully created websites and don’t do anything with them. Also, they have no clue on how to measure the value and benefits a well-made and promoted website brings. Start with a goal to increase your visits by X and time on site by Y% in 3-6 months. Know what you want your website to be in a year, two and five, and what your plans are to get there. Check out Google Analytics Academy and set up a measurement plan.
2# Offshore v Nearshore v Domestic
UK is currently #29th on the top programmers list by country – with best devs in China, Russia and Poland. It’s hard to blame everyone for ditching “Made in Britain” and outsourcing everything. We pride ourselves in being a UK based agency (Bromley), only outsourcing upon request. What do you prefer?
3# Agile v Fixed Price
Nothing goes 100% according to plan, but are you comfortable with a complete agile pay as you go model? We suggest aiming for something in between. BTW – really good book on Scrum.
4# Quality v Speed v Price
Are you looking for speed, cutting edge and high-end quality, or cheap and cheerful solution? This one is key, you can only have two out of three at any time. Decide which and expect exactly that.
5# Marketing and Promotion
What happens after your website is finally created? Can they get you to the top of search engines, setup ads, social, creative writing or video content? What’s their take on your business lead generation strategy? Great book on Successful Content Marketing Strategy.
6# Technology Stack
Better ask the geeks about this one, but you can also do a little research yourself on CMS Matrix or BuildWith. You can compare given technology popularity like this: Shopify taking over Magento – on Google Trends.
WHERE TO FIND THEM: Recommendation, Search and Comparisons
Usually, a very useful selection method is to have a recommended supplier. But be careful as sometimes such recommendation can be commission driven. Always ask the supplier to put you in touch with their last client or two to see how they did.
Do you prefer Skype or face to face meetings? While we live in an interconnected world, nothing beats a brainstorm in person. Our recommendation would be to meet people working with you at least once. Consider communications, lingual and cultural nuances that might be present as a barrier. Insist on frequent communication to aid information flow. Whether in person, phone or Skype. For example, our offices are in Bromley and London Bridge. However, we’re always meeting our clients face to face in London and all over UK.
9# Agency v Freelancers
The biggest differentiator is the scope of expertise you can expect from an agency versus just a single person.
10# Specials v Generalist
Jack of all traders… While we highly value specialist knowledge, we have a huge variety of projects and technologies under our belt. We preach the gospel of continuous learning and challenge ourselves to embrace new trends and developments all the time. We teach our staff how to think first, Google, being the second option and keeping a record of anything they find. Someone already had your problem. We are recommending generalists.
11# Geeks v Creatives
Technical people are usually not very arty or design savvy. On the other hand, with few exceptions, creatives don’t tend to do very well in a hackathons. Be sure to choose a good mix of tech skill and keen design eye.
12# Search v Content
Specialist search consultancy will always have keywords optimisation as the primary goal. This doesn’t always help the story, readability and clarity of your communications. While being at the top of search results is quite important, so is conveying your messages in a professional and engaging manner.
HOW TO CHOOSE: Relationship, Service and Competence
We live in a fast-moving world. Are you comfortable with solutions developed by one person? Or hundreds if not thousands in an open source community keeping it current? Find their collective level of expertise. Are they exploring digital trends for the current year?
How are the projects run? Is there a clear definition of the process? Is it explainable to a barmaid?
15# Added Value
Can the agency benefit in any way, apart from the obvious? Are you a step up in terms of client size or budget? Will they be excited working on your project?
Does the website make you feel something? Does it stand out? Or is it just a generic clone of many other websites… If it’s the latter, your new site might have the same feel.
Can you clearly see what the people working on your project stand for? Do you think they will service your account?
Can you find something you didn’t know on the company’s website or blog? Are they sharing their knowledge and venturing out to conferences to get more? What was the last book the key person on your account read?
Apart from the development skills, how is their content, social channels, design aesthetic?
This one is more for us than anything else. We only work with people who have that special something, something that makes them stand out, something we can learn from. Being a client or peer, happy, driven and energetic usually does the trick, but dark, quirky or mega corpo geek will do too. Reach up.
RED FLAGS: Appearances, Integrity and Terms
21# Smoke and Mirrors
Case studies, stats and awards are great and probably true. Remember these are written within an agency paradigm focusing on most successful metrics. Check out Google news, search or trends to see if the campaign tag line comes up.
22# Code Ownership
Make sure you can get your website code with no extra fees if you want to move to a different provider.
23# Terms of Business
From one page quick guidelines to 25-page long legal contracts, defining every interaction – usually to the benefit of the supplier. Suggest shorter, less scary terms.
24# Magic Wand
Remember there is none, if something looks too good to be true… Be wary of misleading promises of the Holy Grail or quick wins. Your website is the long-hole game in both creation, maintenance and promotion. You need to try and experiment with a lot of different approaches to find out what works for your business.
Choosing the right man for the job is always a tricky task. If not anything else, we hope this guide raised some question that will allow you to make better choices and contribute to a successful delivery of your next web design project.