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Absolute Design
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How to choose the right digital agency

Posted by: Clare Rose

We’re always meeting new clients that have horror stories about web development projects which went badly when the client chose the wrong agency.The following are five key factors that you should consider when selecting a web development agency for your business:

1. Hire an agency with experts in specific roles

It’s not uncommon to find agencies with individuals whose skillsets span multiple disciplines and media. For example, graphic designers that once worked in print that have had to develop a completely different set of skills to work on websites.

Many small agencies will have ‘generalists’, sometimes working across creative and technical issues, planning out the structure of the website, generating wireframes, visualising the homepage, sourcing images and liaising with the client. While on the technical side, a ‘developer’ will often be expected to create the HTML/CSS templates, write any Javascript that’s required, integrate the content management system (CMS), plan and develop the site’s bespoke functionality, manage the hosting, train the client and carry out testing.

With a head count of 18, we’re large enough to have more specialists to focus on many of the different roles described above.

2. Work closely with a dedicated account manager

Many small agencies with overworked account managers will get clients to liaise directly with designers and developers. While this can be productive it is always essential that the designated account manager is ‘in the loop’ and fully up to speed with what’s happening in the project.

Having a dedicated account manager gives you a single point of contact that is responsible for delivering the project to the approved budget and deadline. At Absolute we like to build strong working relationships with our clients, we’ll get to know the brand and understand your objectives so that we can create projects that really work for your business. 

3. Experience counts for a lot

This sounds like an obvious one, but it’s surprising how many businesses use agencies that have no experience in their particular sector and lack the technical skillset to manage a project. One reason for this can be that clients outgrow their regular agency.

So, a start-up business may just need a basic content-only website, with a few pages and an enquiry form. But as a company grows so does its online requirements. Maybe adding a customer login area, a mobile site and an ecommerce store integrated with their backend system.

Before long, your usual agency is out of its depth, but still wants to carry on servicing the client. Shortcuts are taken that provide an immediate solution, but aren’t future-proof. This in turn can make it costly and inefficient to make changes further down the line.

To avoid this make sure your chosen agency has shown you examples of the type of site you’re commissioning. A good agency should be itching to demonstrate websites in a similar sector to your business that feature similar functionality to what you’re after.

4. Listen to word of mouth recommendations

There is no better form of promotion than word of mouth. Satisfied customers passing on recommendations are not only happy with the end result but also the service they received from the agency.

Absolute is a member of the Recommended Agency Register (RAR) that canvases clients to get anonymous feedback and ratings on a range of aspects of our service, such as customer service, creativity, strategic thinking and effectiveness (for all of which our clients rate us 90% or higher - read more about our performance here).

When considering using an agency don’t be afraid to ask for references. If they are confident in the level of service they offer, they won’t have a problem putting you in touch with clients for whom they have completed similar projects.

5. Be willing to have your ideas challenged

Sometimes the best advice is the kind you don’t want to hear! We’re very honest and upfront with clients and will question the fundamentals of a brief, suggesting alternative ways to achieve the best results.
For instance, we’ve met with clients in the past who think they need a mobile app, when what they actually need is a mobile-friendly website. At the end of the day you’re paying for a website or campaign that meets your requirements in the best possible way within a specific budget. An experienced company should be able to point out the problems and steer you towards the best solutions.

We always aim to build a long term, professional relationship with our clients and believe this begins with an honest and informed understanding of your requirements.
Hopefully these tips will help guide you in to making the right choices for your project.