Questions to ask when choosing a new web agency (or any agency for that matter)…

When it comes to choosing a new agency for your business, it can be a really interesting time, a particularly important thing to make sure you get right. We’ve been on both the searching and receiving ends of agency life and so I wanted to give my 5 tips/questions you should ask yourself when you’re making that new agency decision. Whether that agency is digital, recruitment, web design, marketing or any other.

Here they are…

1. Do we connect? Do they share our values?

Typically you’re going to know this straight away, you’ll get a feeling about them as soon as you/they enter the room; their attitude, a simple smile, professionalism, personality and so on. It’s quite possibly the most important question of them all.

Does the agency operate the way you would expect, does the vision of your business match up with theirs?

Let’s say this is a recruitment agency… The kind of attitude they hold can quite easily determine the kind of staff member you end up with. A bad approach to recruitment can equal someone who doesn’t fit in your business.

I’ve got no advice on this one though – just feel your way through it.

2. Do they really care about my business?

It’s a bit like the first question, only more specific… So they gel with you, you’ve got similar values, but do they give a hoot about you as a person and your business.

One of the things I see on a weekly, sometimes daily basis, are web design agencies who care more about their profit margins than they do about genuinely growing the businesses they’re working with. And that just creates burnt business owners who need a lot of convincing from agencies like ours who really do care about business growth.

With a profit-first focus, you end up with an oversold website that doesn’t do what you intended. And that’s the whole reason you were looking for an agency in the first place.

If you get even a small feeling that you could be taken for a ride, they’re not the agency for you.

3. Can they do the job?

Where’s the proof? Do they know what they’re talking about? Especially in more technical scenarios it’s good to ask, not just what they’re going to do for you, but how they’re going to do it. This will give you a good indication that they know what they’re talking about and can actually do the job.

A good style of question for marketing agencies would be, “have you done something like this before.” And by the way, “no” isn’t always a bad answer… As long as you ask how they do intend to pull it off.

In web design and development we’re asked to do things all of the time that we’ve not done before – that’s what we love though, the challenge! You’ll know we’re able to pull it off when you see how passionate and excited we get about working out how we’re going to do it (to the point where I often end up needing to calm down developers who get a bit too giddy, bless ’em).

4. Will they look after me ongoing?

What kind of plan do they have in the long term to stay your agency? I’ve seen the mentality over and over again that everything is a one-off job. Ongoing relationship is crucial!

You don’t want to be in the same position again in a year’s time looking for a whole new agency, make a great choice this time and you’ll be much happier about it in the long term. Questions for different agencies look like this:

  • Digital Marketing: What plan are we putting in place to make sure this grows month on month, not just doing the same thing every month?
  • Web Design: What kind of ongoing support do you have? How much of a priority will we be once the website is built and you move on to the next client? What kind of guarantee do I get that this will work with updates to web browsers etc?
  • Website Development Retainers: Will you be an extension to our team, an active part of our business, or do we need to tell you exactly what to do month on month? Will you help to actively grow our business and find new areas for us to better what we offer our customers?
  • Recruitment: What kind of guarantee do I get if the candidate isn’t suitable, how long do I have to decide if they’re not right for us, what safeguards are in place if they decide to leave? Will you really offer up the best clients for me ongoing, or will you just pester us with every single new recruit who gets added to your books?

5. Are they insured?

It’s kind of just a simple and random question to throw on the end, though I believe it’s super important. If they do get something wrong, are they going to take you down with them, or is there something in place to protect you both from mistakes of their profession that cost your business?

In fact beyond that, if something happens to their office and their equipment (or even their staff) have they got a plan to get back on track and carry on working ASAP? It’s a question worth asking, just in case.

So there they are, my 5 questions to ask yourself when choosing a new agency.

Of course, if it is a new web design agency you’re looking for then be sure to have a chat with us, I’d love to see what kind of fit we’d be with your business.

Scott is the Managing Director at Illustrate. His main focus is to cast vision and concentrate on our future growth, as well as looking after our customers and generally managing our effectiveness and value as a web design agency. He's also great at presenting new ideas and being picky about the design of everything we do. He performs best in building relationships with other people and in his spare time rides a Honda VTR motorbike, is a huge Cardiff Devils fan and loves spending time volunteering at Freedom Church in Cardiff.