Getting the best out of your web designer means you get a better website.
When you are working with a web design agency on a website project follow these tips to make sure the job is completed properly.
We’ve worked on 100s of websites, so here are some things our web design experts have learned along the way to get the best results for your website project.
1. Write a brief
Sounds obvious, but write the brief in your language – don’t worry about being too prescriptive.
Your brief is going to change once you start talking to the web developers about it – you know what you want to achieve, the web team should know how to get you there.
Your chosen agency should be able to help you extend and expand your brief – they’ll do this by asking you lots of questions.
2. Share more than the brief
The brief for your project will outline requirements and objectives, but it can also be a good idea to share more than this.
Briefs by their very nature can be quite formal – we suggest going beyond this, so think big.
We often ask clients to put together a list of ‘must haves’, ‘nice to have’ and ‘if the budget were no object’ – this forms part of our initial website consultancy work.
This helps you to think beyond the scope of the brief and can give your web design team some insight into what you need now, and what you might need in the future.
3. Spend time discussing the brief
Your agency should have questions about your brief (if they don’t, you should be concerned).
Be prepared to invest some time answering questions and clarifying anything on the brief that the agency wants more information about – more time spent at this stage of the projects pays dividends later on.
4. Prepare to be challenged
A good agency will ask you why you want to do certain things outlined in the brief.
They may not always agree with you and might suggest alternatives or challenge your proposals.
Asking hard-to-answer questions is something an experienced web design agency should do as part of their process.
In challenging your thinking, the agency isn’t trying to catch you out or make more work for themselves, they’re often trying to save you time and money by not including ideas or function requests that might not be required.
5. Follow the agencies web design process
Most agencies have a process. This is often something that’s been developed and refined over 100s of projects and is designed to make your website successful.
It’s often tempting to ask ‘when will we see the designs’, but the design is just one stage of the process.
It’s important to pay as much attention to all the preceding stages (such as market research, keyword planning and personas) as they are intended to make your website more effective.
This is one of the most important things to remember when working with a web design agency – they’re here to help you so it makes good sense to follow their process.
6. Ask questions along the project journey
Your agencies process is important, but don’t blindly follow it.
If, at any stage of the process, you’re unsure about anything or don’t quite get it, ask the agency to explain what they are doing, why they’re doing it and what is the point.
Some agencies may spend project budget on stuff that’s purely designed to use project budget, so if you’re not sure about the benefits of a project stage, ask them to explain it – in detail.
7. Speak your mind…
Whatever stage of the project you’re at, don’t hold back on your comments.
We’ve spoken to a lot of website owners who felt pressured into approving things or agreeing to stuff that they were not sure about.
Whether you’re wireframing, looking at initial concepts or about to sign-off a final design, make sure your voice your opinions.
If you sign-off work or functions you’re not sure about and change your mind later, it could cost you more money.
8. …but remember why you engaged an agency in the first place
You know your business, your website agency knows theirs, so while it’s important to have clear and concise communication, it’s often wise to trust in your agency’s experience.
One thing that always makes a web design and development project derail is if you ignore the (good) advice of your agency.
Web projects are always a bit of a bumpy ride and there’s far more scope-creep in web work than most other projects.
The key thing to remember here is that a lot of the work on your site needs data to demonstrate effectiveness – you just can’t get this until the site is live, so let your agency suggest their recommended route, follow it, check the data post-launch and then revisit.
Website projects don’t have an end date – they have stages – there’s more work to be done post-launch than pre-launch.
9. Invest time in checking things
When you’re working with a web design agency, the project team working on your site are very close to it. Whilst your agency should have their own internal quality checking and assurance, it does make sense to closely check all the work.
If you’ve supplied the copy to be added to the site, spend time proofreading it.
Obviously, one of the best things about WordPress is the ability to make changes on-the-fly, but pay special attention to things like page slugs, titles and Yoast (which you should be using).
There are also some great in-browser apps like Grammarly that will highlight spelling and grammatical errors automatically.
10. Keep your expectations real
If you are launching a brand new website on a new domain, your domain authority (DA) is going to be zero.
This means that your site is going to have to work hard to start ranking in the search results – you will not be inundated with new business enquiries from day one.
It’s important to remember that a website project does not have an end – working with a web design agency is just the first stage of the project.
Once your site goes live, the real work starts.
Prepare to make time for writing blogs and other content to get your site ranking and attracting backlinks.
Managing a website is a fulltime job in itself – if you’re able to dedicate all your time to content production post-launch, you’ll see results quicker.
However, if you’re like most of the clients we work with, your website is just one of many projects and responsibilities you have to juggle.
You can still improve your website and win new business from it, but it’s going to take time.
Talk to your agency about ongoing support and maintenance options for your website and consider whether you want to pay your agency to work on the site for you (saving you time) or whether you want to do it yourself (do you have the time?).