Finding a Digital Agency: What to Look for in a Web Design or Web Development Agency?

Narrow down your digital agency selection using our handy top ten tips on choosing a web design agency.

1) Check out their own site

Do you like it? Does it sell to you? Does it contain all the types of skills that you’re looking for e.g. good web design, well designed user interface, well built, works on mobiles. Does it impress you?

2) Ask to look at their portfolio

Are the case studies recent? Do you recognize the company names? Do a Google search and check that the companies exist and have the same website that the agency designed. Do you like the website designs they have produced? Ask yourself: Do they represent the company well? Would you use this website? Do they have experience of website design in your field? Do the website’s meet their objectives?

3) Check References

Ask the web agency if they can send you references or testimonials from customers. And when you get these testimonials, make sure you check them out. Call the clients up and check that the testimonials are real.

Finally, ask how long the agency has been running. Age doesn’t always matter, but it does help to identify experience.

4) Capabilities

All agencies will be good at some things and not at others. Find out what they have experience in and what they do well, they often have a bias to one content management technology or another. Often, it’s helpful to get the CV’s of all staff employed. The best agencies will have a balance of online marketing, development and creative. If you have specific requirements – make a list and ask the agency what their proficiency is in the specific skills.

5) Availability – Service levels

Check that they can meet your needs. Quite often companies have a client account team in the UK but their main development team may be based elsewhere. Make sure you get a phone number not just an email address (and not a premium rate number either). Ask the web design agency what the turnaround time is for responding to emails.

6) Resourcing

You want your web design agency to be big enough to ensure that if your account manager is off sick or on holiday your business is not forgotten.

Do you prefer a larger, higher resourced agency or a smaller, more flexible agency? The general rule would be to find a web agency that’s resourced to reflect the size of tasks and projects you require. If you have 1000 employees but your actual marketing and development budget is reasonably low, you are only likely to need an agency of 5-10 employees. If you have 100 employees, but you are heavily reliant on outsourced projects, a larger agency may be more suitable. No one size fits all!

7) Age of agency

Age doesn’t always matter, but in this industry it can be an important factor. The web has seen many changes in a relatively short space of time, if a website design agency has been in business for five or more years it have obviously been managed well. The internet has seen the boom and bust of many company’s; those that live to tell the tale are obviously being run well.

8) Are the staff approachable and professional?

It’s important that you connect with the people managing your account. The best results will be created when you forge a partnership with your web agency.

Do they provide an off the shelf package, or do they tailor their resources to your needs? Do they use a lot of jargon or explain things clearly? Have they provided relevant suggestions suitable for your business? Far too often, company’s try to sell you products that you don’t need and are not tailored to your needs.

9) Check out the agency’s terms and conditions

This is quite important and helps avoid problems further down the line. Here’s some helpful questions to ask:

  • Are there any hidden costs, like set up fees or holding fees?
  • Can you make staged payments for your web project?
  • Are updates and maintenance included in the website design fees?
  • Are bug fixes charged for?
  • Will you get a copy of the source files?
  • Who owns the source code?
  • Who owns copyright of the design?
  • Are the files back-up?
  • Will it work on smartphones?

10) Do they outsource their work?

Check to see if your project will be developed in house or if it will be outsourced. Ask to meet the design or technical team. If work is going to be outsourced, find out where, are you able to contact the team? There are many cases of company’s who have an account management team, and an outsourced development team. It’s common for technical development to be done off shore as resources abroad are cheaper. The problem with this scenario is guaranteeing the quality of the work produced. Does the account management team check the back end code? Does it meet current guidelines and legal requirements? Can they be flexible enough to meet your needs?

Want a web agency with a difference contact Alchemy Interactive

My Web Developer Disappeared With My Site, What Do I Do?

Here are six things you can do to help recover your website files:

1. Email the developer

You may have already done this before but it wouldn’t hurt to email the developer a few more times. Try emailing them from different emails but don’t ask them about your files just yet. Tell them that you are interested in getting a new website developed. If they respond, then you may proceed to ask them about getting your site files. This can be sticky because they may or may not respond. But, trying doesn’t hurt.

2. Call the developer

Whenever you work with any developer, whether offshore or locally, you NEED to get a working phone number from them in case of an emergency. Call that phone number several times. Call them from different phone numbers in case you feel that they are not answering your calls because they recognize your number. If they respond, DO NOT be rude or get angry at them. Even though you are angry, don’t let it show. Your goal is to get your files back.

3. Contact your hosting company

Give your hosting company a call to see if the files are on your server. If they are, good for you. You can download the files and store them on your hard drive so that when you find a trusted developer, you can give it to them. If the files are not on your server, then more than likely, your developer was working on it from another server, or they removed it from your server.

4. Freelance website

If you hired them on a freelancing website like elance or odesk, then you have a better chance of getting your website back. Contact the freelancing website and let them know what happened. Most of them will do whatever they can to help you. Unfortunately, it’s not always guaranteed that you will get your website back as the developer can take your files and your money, delete their account, create a new one under a different name. This is sad, but it is done one too many times.

5. Pray and keep hope alive

After you’ve done all you can to get in touch with them, at this point, you are at their mercy. Just pray and hope that you hear back from them. If all else fails, then you are left with only one thing to do… hire someone else.

6. Hire someone else

After all attempts fail, you have no choice but to start over. This is not an easy thing to do because you’ve already invested so much time and money in your other project. But as tough as it is, it’s the last and necessary resort.

The Bottom Line

It’s very unfortunate for those who’s lost hundreds or even thousands of dollars like this. That’s why it’s very vital that you take the time to research your developers, especially offshore ones before hiring them.

How to Choose Which Web Development Package is Right For You

There are plenty of options when it comes to web site creation software and a wannabe web designer might have a hard time deciding which to choose. We will have a look at the most popular web creation programs: Front Page, Dreamweaver and Adobe GoLive. All three offer a user-friendly interface and plenty of beginner and advanced options that will allow you to create the website of your dreams. A large majority of website hosting companies accept the final outputs of the three programs, but you will still need to check your web page for compatibility with different web browsers.

Front Page

comes as a natural option to many web designers, partly because being part of the Microsoft Office family this software offers a familiar workspace. The interface is similar to the ones you find in Word or Excel, with many identical buttons, keyboard shortcuts and actions. Text formatting is piece of cake in Front Page as it almost feels like you are using Word to do it. The Insert/Picture command is also available here, allowing the user to easily integrate images into the web page. Although many experienced web designers see Front Page as a basic software, you can still tweak your page to higher standards by using the HTML view.

Dreamweaver

offers a lot more high-end features and is preferred by a large community of web designers. You have more freedom using HTML features and taking your web site closer to perfection. A very useful option is the design and code split view – you see the effects of the changes you make in the source code affect the design in real time. Macromedia Dreamweaver allows you to create from the simplest of web sites to very complex pages that integrate Java applications and Flash elements. You may also check the final result in different browsers, a very important step that allows you to calibrate the web site for maximum compatibility. It is also an excellent programme for beginners because of its WYSIWIG (what you see is what you get) interface, this allows the user to create web sites without having knowledge of HTML coding. Some HTML coding knowledge will, however, allow you to create better looking sites.

Adobe GoLive

is a favorite web creation software of designers that are used to working with other Adobe products such as Photoshop or Illustrator. The familiar Adobe workspace reduces the learning curve for this program and allows easy integration of cross-software elements. The graphic elements for the web site, which are usually created in Photoshop, are effortlessly placed into GoLive’s workspace by a simple drag and drop move. The excellent compatibility with other graphic design Adobe products recommends GoLive as a great option when you want to create a great looking website.