So you’ve decided you need a new website, settled on the type of website you need, and created a website design brief. You’re ready to put the feelers out so you can choose a web design agency in Singapore.
But how do you choose the right agency for your project?
Comparing apples with oranges
Clients frequently tell me how confusing it is to choose between the different sized and shaped web design companies, especially when you get such a wide range of approaches and costs. After all, they’re all delivering the same thing, aren’t they?
Choosing the right web design agency is very much “horses for courses”; different agencies suit different requirements. Here we offer our top tips to help you choose the right agency for your web project.
1. Previous work
You’ve probably taken a look at the agency’s website which in most cases will include a portfolio where you can take a look through their work. Does the agency have a broad range of design styles, and in particular does it look like they’d be capable of designing to your brief?
Be sure to dig a bit deeper. For your web project to be a success, it doesn’t just need to look pretty – it needs to deliver results.
What results has the agency delivered for other clients? What do their clients have to say about them? If possible, try contacting the client direct to get a reference.
2. Relevant experience
Has the agency designed and built websites similar to your brief? Do they have experience of developing the sort of features or functionality you want to include? Not only will this give you peace of mind that they can deliver, but they’ll also be able to offer you some insights that might improve the final site.
Has the agency worked with other clients in your industry before? This can be a double-edged sword in my opinion. On the one hand, knowledge of industry practices and terminology can be a definite advantage, and experience working with other clients with similar needs can give your project a leg up. On the other hand, if the agency has no experience of your industry, they bring a fresh perspective and don’t have any pre-conceived ideas based on what they’ve done before.
3. What’s their own website like?
Bit of an obvious one, this, but do you want to give your project to a web agency that can’t even look after its own website properly?
Their site is their chance to show what they’re made of. If it looks crap – or untouched – what does that tell you about how well organised they are?
4. Capability/size of team
You’ll have a wide range of sizes of agencies to choose from for your project; from one-man/woman bands up to large agencies with dozens of employees. So how do you know which is right for you?
Think about what help and support you need during the project, and what ongoing service you need after. If you plan to look after the site yourself once it’s built, and you’re comfortable writing copy, sourcing images and putting the content onto the site in the first place, you might want to go to a one-man-band. Beware though that ongoing support might be sketchy and you’re probably going to have to do a lot of the work yourself.
If you have a particularly large project that requires expertise in niche areas like UX, or the sheer volume of content needs a larger team to handle it, you might want to go to a larger agency. But be aware that you’ll probably be paying a higher rate.
Ask questions about who does what, to establish whether the agency has the skills within the team to cope with your needs. Bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better; some of the best agencies have teams of fewer than 10 people.
5. How long have they been around?
Has the agency been around for a while, or are they a start-up? If it’s a well-established agency, their longevity suggests they must be doing something right.
Don’t immediately write-off the newbies though. Take a closer look at the key people who’ll be involved in your project; how long have they been doing what they do?
6. Processes and planning
If your website’s very simple, you know exactly what you want, and you’re not fussed about the website working all that hard for your business (and there’s not necessarily anything wrong with that – your marketing effort might be better spent elsewhere), then planning and strategy aren’t going to be at the top of your wishlist.
But most businesses and organisations need a website that delivers an impressive return on investment and to maximise ROI you need a site that’s well-planned by people who know what they’re doing.
7. Standards of work
It might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you’re weighing up who you should choose for your website project, but don’t underestimate the importance of good standards of coding and design. Will your website be W3C compliant and adhere to best practice with regards to accessibility and usability?
Definitely make sure your new site’s responsive and gives users the best experience on all devices, including tablet and mobile. This goes beyond simply resizing menus and images – a well-designed responsive site considers connection speed and how our behaviour changes when we’re using different devices, and adapts accordingly.
8. What do you get for your money?
What do you actually get for the price of the project? Will the site be populated and ready to go live or will you need to put your content into an empty site? If the website is populated with your content, how much effort goes into styling it properly, or is it just an exercise in copy and paste?
How much will you have to do?
Who writes the content? What about images/video/other stuff? How much do you, the client, have to do?
Ask yourself how much time you have to put into the project. Are you better off having the experts doing everything for you, or would you prefer to save a bit of money and do more yourself?
9. What are the people like?
You need to know you’re going to get on with the people you’re going to be working with. What impression do you get from the agency’s website, the way they responded to your enquiry, your email communications?
Do they seem like your kind of people?
Can you work with these guys?
How well does the agency communicate with you? Do they understand where you’re coming from and can explain their ideas clearly, or are you left befuddled by marketing speak and jargon?
What’s also important is how you’ll communicate during the project. Will it be face-to-face, over the phone, or just by email? Sometimes things get lost in translation when you’re only able to talk over the phone or by email.