If you are shopping for a digital agency, by now you've looked at a bunch of different companies. You've seen some cool websites, looked at a bunch of portfolios, and have seen that almost all of us have ping pong tables (hey, it's true!).
But, how do you really know that you are making the right decision? Choosing an agency to complete your project is unlike any other client/contractor relationship. There are many factors to consider ranging from quality of the team, to technology recommendations, to business considerations.
Hopefully this guide will help you make the right decision for your organization.
Shop by capabilities and personality - not by price. Agencies provide a service, not a product!
The worst mistake you can make when shopping for an agency is to shop based on dollars and cents as opposed to other factors. The truth is, web agencies can vary greatly in their pricing. As opposed to physical contractors (think, home repair, etc.), web contractors can accomplish similar results with a variety of methods. As such, the consumer must be able to evaluate these methods and choose which is the right way to accomplish the task at hand, as opposed to just choosing the lowest bidder.
Also consider that when choosing a web agency, there are no "materials". It is entirely creative. Therefore, consumers must make sure they are choosing an agency that can actually execute on their vision. Does the agency's personality match yours? Do they understand your vision completely?
Here is some content that can help you along the way:
Pricing Divergence Review: Why do some agencies charge you $x and some charge you $y? And why is that divergence so severe?
How much should a website really cost? Understand how agencies price their work.
Top mistakes people make when choosing an agency: Avoid these common mistakes.
Know and understand exactly what you are shopping for.
Many consumers who request projects from us come in with a very vague idea of what they want to do. They then talk to multiple agencies, who all interpret those requests differently and they get a barrage of pricing. Make sure you are completely certain of every aspect of your project.
At NPG, we encourage all customers who have even a slight ambiguity in their project to pursue our discovery and specification service. It is a low cost way to document and plan for your project, enabling you to get quotes based on the same specification. Without the clear roadmap, you can never be sure exactly what you are buying, and the agency you pick will never be sure what they are selling you, either!
Have a look at some more related resources to help you understand how to document your project:
Writing a web specification: Don't be scared! It's not so difficult!
Why project discovery is vital: Learn why you should never hire an agency who doesn't perform a thorough discovery process.
Check references and do your own due diligence.
When you have found an agency you think you can work with, and you have reviewed a detailed proposal based on your documented specification, make sure you check references and look carefully at the past work performed. Did the agency finish on budget? Are there maintenance nightmares? This is your chance to verify that you have made the right decision.