Everyone needs a website in today's "get it now" society, and a business’s online presence must look professional. This is especially true for enterprise-level companies for whom the bar is set a bit higher than usual. What happens online can, these days, make or break a company.
Picking the right agency for enterprise website design is among the most important decisions a company can make. Sadly, many companies rush through the decision and end up working with a company who takes advantage of the business's urgent needs rather than focusing on the long-term relationship.
Taking time and working through a few simple steps will bring you to the right agency who will deliver a beautiful, productive website, and often offer ongoing support.
Prepare for the Approach
Understanding what the site should do for your business is the first step in finding the right agency for design. This step is completed before contacting any company at all. You need to know what you want from a website, what you will be using the site to do within your business, and how you want the site to work for you.
You can start by asking yourself questions like:
These questions are only the beginning of what you need to know before approaching any design professional.
Research pricing by asking others what they paid for their websites. You can also search online for pricing, but keep in mind that many agencies don’t display their prices on their websites. There are many reasons for this—for our part, the budget of a project depends entirely on its scope, so there is no “one-size-fits-all” pricing structure.
Another important thing to consider while researching price is the possibility of massive price divergence between companies. We’ve previously discussed this subject on our blog. Just because an agency’s price is appealingly low doesn’t mean they’re the best option. Conversely, a gigantic price tag doesn’t always come hand-in-hand with a proportionate skill set.
Know Your Budget
After you've researched prices, look over your budget. How much can you really afford to spend on this site?
Be careful with this point. Spending too little will produce a poor site, spending too much will hurt you financially. Decide how much you can honestly spend, but allow a small margin above and below for flexibility.
Also keep in mind what expenses there may be beyond the website itself. Do you need to set aside part of your budget for marketing efforts? Will you be needing on-going maintenance after the site is launched? If there are other services you’ll be needing from an agency, don’t blow your entire budget—in fact, many agencies can likely bundle multiple services together.
Ask for Quotes
Call a few companies and ask for quotes on designs after the initial research is over. Discuss what you want from the site. If necessary, go through a discovery process with them to make sure you’re covering all of your bases.
Allow each agency to give you a quote or proposal, then compare them side by side. Be sure to get as much detail as possible to find out what you will get for the price. Pick the company who will not only give you the most for the best price, but with whom you feel the most comfortable working.
Don't Be Shy
While you're on an agency’s website, see if there are any samples of what the company can do. If there are no samples, be sure to ask for some. Legitimate companies will always have samples ready to share, as well as testimonials from happy customers.
Also, make sure you are on the same page as your potential agency in terms of platform. If there is a specific solution that works best for your needs (a custom CMS, perhaps?), don’t let the agency push you into using something else just because it’s the only thing they know how to do.
Consider Other Factors
Considering the look and design of a site is important, but there are other aspects that must be considered. Things such as how the site will be hosted, points in SEO, security for the site, support and site maintenance are just as important as how the site looks.
Many design companies will include these items in a package deal, so make sure to look for them. Also, ask for details under each category. How often is the site maintained? Is support available all hours? How long will it take for the site to rank on Google? What do you have to do to maintain the site's SEO?
There a number of important points in this category, and understanding each point is essential.
Work Out a Meeting Schedule
After the project starts, make sure you arrange regular meetings with the agency to keep yourself updated on the project. You'll want to know how things are going, and you want to make sure you're happy with the progress.
By staying aware throughout the entire process, you'll be able to make changes if needed before the website is published, understand the work, learn about the points mentioned above, and be sure the work is moving along smoothly. Any agency worth their salt will be happy to keep you in the loop the whole time.
Research all the terms here and everything you can find about website design. While there will always be questions, knowledge is power. Learn what you want to have on your site, and gather that information in preparation for your contacts with the agency.
While you will hopefully learn a lot through the agency, having knowledge beforehand will only help in the process. Be open to learning as much as possible.
Keep It Up
If you can, go to your agency’s office and meet them face-to-face. We personally love having clients over to our office, as it opens up dialogue and helps everyone feel at ease with each other. If this isn't possible, Skype them and get to know them. You'll feel more connected to the people creating your site, and you'll build more trust with them.
Additionally, ask questions or write down any questions you can think of when you're not talking to the designers. Remember that they expect many people to come into web design with little knowledge, so no question is too silly for them. Listen to the design team as well. If they make a suggestion, consider it. You are welcome to ask why the decision was made, but consider every suggestion made.
Once you finally decide on an agency, trust them. You hired them on your good judgment. Stay diligent in your needs and keep in constant contact with them on their progress, and you’ll end up with a site that fits your needs and business goals like a glove.