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The Definitive Guide to Selecting a Digital Agency Partner

  • 6 min
  • June 5, 2015
    • Partnerships Not Transactions
    • B1O2
    • Picking the Right Partner

In a lot of ways, the Internet industry is like the wild, Wild West. It’s a crowded space, with no barriers to entry, no capital costs, and requires no licensing, bar exams, or college education.

That’s why you find middle school kids that can build websites and high school students that can hack firewalls.

But beyond that, technology is often an intimidating and misunderstood discipline. If you can’t build websites and hack firewalls, then the magic that is coding can seem magical and a little scary. You combine that with design (which even fewer people can do well) and the entire process just seems like voodoo.

So how do you select a digital agency that is actually going to give you what you need?

After all, we’ve all heard the horror stories – web developers that don’t deliver, sites that look nothing like what was promised… the list goes on.

We’ve done the legwork for you, and assembled the most important qualifications to consider when selecting a web development partner or digital agency.

1. Company Philosophy

This is quite possibly the most important step in the entire process – before determining if the web development company that you’re considered is technically qualified to build your digital property, you need to how they think. If your values aren’t aligned, the project will never be as successful as it could have been with a digital agency that understands and works to protect what is important to you.

2. Engagement Model

After you’ve determined whether or not your values are in alignment, consider their engagement model. Do they use in-house employees? Freelancers? Offshore employees? Each model has its own pros and cons and lends itself to a uniquely different experience. For example, using off-shore resources generally lends itself to lower costs, but you have less communication. In-house employees generally mean a high-touch process and a consistent level of interaction. Make a list of what’s important to you (level of communication, cost, development experience, location) and use those qualifications to select an agency that has an engagement model that will deliver your desired experience.

3. Reputation

This is a big one. What other people do and don’t say about the agency you’re considering selecting to build your website or help with your digital strategy is more telling than all of the sales and marketing materials that the agency in question has thrown your way. So do your due diligence and ask around to see what others have heard or experienced with them. And then take it with a grain of salt. Every project is unique and has its own challenges.

4. Requirements

Having clearly defined and documented requirements are what keeps timelines and budgets from being blown. It’s also one of the most challenging things to do well. In order to ensure that your development partner truly understands all of the features and functionality needed for your website to legitimately support your business, a clearly defined requirements gathering process is key. A requirements document that was signed by both parties also protects you from getting a site that is NOTHING like what you were told you were going to get.

5. Nurturing your site post-launch 

In today’s day and age having a “build it and leave it alone” mentality will equate to a digital death. So, if you aren’t planning on taking your ongoing digital marketing efforts in-house once your website build has been completed, you need to be sure that the agency you’re considering has the ability to continue to grow your digital presence. Otherwise, all that work you put into creating a beautiful new website will have been for nothing. 

So there you have it! When considering which agency to select for your latest digital project, be sure to consider each of the above factors to ensure that the engagement is as successful as it can be.

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