How to Approach Web Partner Selection
Web presence has never been more important. The days of websites serving as online brochure-ware are long gone. For many of our clients, the website sits at the very heart of their sales and marketing strategy and the interactions with their members and partners.
But, when it comes to creating websites and Intranets, how do you choose the right agency? Which criteria should you consider? It’s a big question, but I’ve captured seven of the biggest factors here: -
Get clear on your objectives
Being very clear on what you want to achieve as a business not only makes for a smoother project, but provides a really useful benchmark against which to measure the outcomes. So, spend time mapping this out ahead of time. Who your target audience(s) are for example. Agree healthy expectations, define what accountability looks like and the metrics you plan to use. A good agency will ask challenging questions and try to push your boundaries. Take it as a strong indicator that you’re in the right place.
Balance Design and Technology Prowess
This is an all-to-often neglected consideration. You can usually look at the profile of the senior leadership team within in agency to know whether they are more led by design (including user experience) and creativity or by technical know-how. As an example Membership projects need to be both. In equal measure. And they need to work in perfect harmony with each other within the agency, rather than exist as separate silos or departments. So, go ahead and ask some challenging questions about the account team you will be assigned and what that design and technology process will look like.
How old is the agency? How long has the team worked together? What’s the depth and relevance of experience with the key account team? How do these factors map against the size and importance of your project? Do your membership renewals and customer relationships depend on seamless systems, marketing excellence, great communication tools and amazing user experiences? If so, ask yourself how much that’s worth to you and your web project and define that value by setting a congruent budget. What does great look like ?
Do you have specific challenges around number of concurrent users, scaling to meet demand ? Could improving the conversions and usability of key online processes materially transform the success of the project ?
Customer & Industry Profile
Choose a partner that not only knows their business, but knows yours too. Take the opportunity to ask your community for references to good agencies. But also take the time to check an agency’s references too. Check out their case studies. Have they worked in your type of industry before? Will your brand be in good company among the agency’s customer profiles? Interview them. Ask rigorous questions about similar projects they’ve completed. Note whether they’ve demonstrated an ability to build long-term customer relationships of their own.
Room for Growth
Is your web project a functional, task-based project? Or, do you need a platform that has room for growth? If so, for how far into the future? Do you need to be able to easily make changes and updates? Does your interface need to be simple to use? How will user training happen? How will you test the website, how much traffic do you expect and how big could this grow ? These are useful things to know up front.
Of course, check the small print to avoid project time creep and spiralling costs. This is often overlooked in the excitement of your new web project potential. Agencies work in different ways, so be clear on their billing policies, reporting structures, time tracking and so on.
While setting clear boundaries is important, so is the client-agency relationships. Be prepared to work with them like an extension of your own internal team. Also, be prepared to share the workload and give timely feedback.
Web project can be a huge undertaking, but great preparation can go a long way to de-stressing the whole experience. What are your big questions about choosing a web partner?
Don’t compromise, expect focus
Finally what is the focus of the agency do they just build integrated creatively lead websites for organisations similar to yours or are websites one of their service offerings along with say building back office systems or implementing CRM ?
Curious, to find out why other membership associations chose us? Take a look here.