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

3 Reasons Why Your Website Speed Matters

In general, people don’t like to wait, wherever they are, whatever they are doing. Everywhere we are, we witness impatient people cutting the line. It’s in the humans’ genes to get what we want when we want. And this applies also on our digital life. When looking for a piece of information on the internet, we might check several websites in order to find it as we need a clear answer straight away. Therefore, it is in the businesses benefit to have a website with a fast load time. But don’t worry, it’s up to the web agency who is creating the website to make it fast.

Here are 3 main reasons why your website should open in less than 2 seconds:

Yes, Website Speed IS an SEO Factor

The fight for high ranking on search engines will never end. Every day, millions of businesses do their best in order to position their websites higher than the competition. For this, regular activities should be performed to optimize a website. And one of the very important factors of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is improving website speed.

Google has secrets. Some of them are still undisclosed, and others have been revealed. What is no more a secret for SEO agencies, due to an announcement made in 2010, Google doesn’t like slow websites; therefore, they could be penalized in ranking. Of course, no business would want that, or else it will be outperformed by the competition with faster load page.

Faster access to information = better user experience

Active internet users are faced with hundreds of information daily. This shows that the internet keeps them busy. And we all know that no busy person like to wait. So once users visit a website, they expect to receive the information needed as soon as they click on a page. Otherwise, they will look elsewhere.

This not only affects the user experience but also, in a more complicated way, the ranking of the website. To explain this point, we need your full attention. When a user accesses a slow website, he tends to quickly move away from it. The results of this action are 1) a high bounce rate (the percentage of website visitors who leave a site after viewing one page), 2) less opportunities for the content to be shared which is also an SEO factor, and 3) Google registers the website as irrelevant to the user’s need. As you can guess, these 3 points have a direct relation with the ranking of the website in SERP as it won’t be considered as a significant source of information.

Mobile internet users are on the rise

Since the big wave of smartphones, more and more people are accessing the internet via their mobile. In 2014, 94% of internet users in the Middle East surfed the web with their mobile. This represents a huge number for any business operating in the region. The main reason for users connecting online via their mobile is that they’d need information on-the-go, in other terms, as quick as possible. So making them wait results in the same consequences as the previous point.

In addition, a fast website speed is crucial for online stores, for the reasons mentioned and more. In 2015, around 50% of online shoppers used their mobile to purchase, which also represented a promising opportunity. Therefore, building an eCommerce website with a fast load time increases conversions. How? Well, as you probably know, in order to purchase online, a user passes through a process of several pages. So, a customer attempting to buy from a slow website will end up abandoning his cart.

In conclusion, several studies showed that internet users would wait on average 2 seconds for the page to load before losing patience. According to KissMetrics, a load page of 2 seconds has an abandonment rate of 10%. This rate increases to 25% when adding 2 more seconds to the load page. There are several tools to make sure that the web agency, when building your website, took into consideration the website speed. For example, check Pingdom in order to see if your site fits in the average or needs optimization for a better performance.

Five Tips to Choosing the Right Digital Agency For You

With the growth of the internet still at a peak and e-commerce sales at a 13% increase for February 2009, typical of the year on year growth of e-commerce sales, a digital agency could be a vital factor in the survival of many businesses already online or looking to launch themselves onto the internet. Some digital agencies will try to sell you cheap services, and the result is normally a cheap looking campaign. Pushing your business on the internet is an expensive and time consuming process, however, if you work in partnership with a successful digital agency, the outcome can be extremely profitable.

But how do you spot the good from the bad? These five simple tips could be the most important advice you take in regards to the future online success of your business, saving you from wasting your money on an ill fated campaign by directing you towards a digital agency that will work with you for the long haul.

1. Look at their website: If a digital agency has a poorly designed or inaccessible website advertising themselves, how do they expect to sell themselves as a web design agency to potential clients? During the decision making progress, take time to navigate around the website of possible digital agencies. If their site is well designed and uses new technology such as flash, you know that these features will be available to you. If the digital agency has the staff and the technological resources to create an impressive website for themselves, they should apply this to their clients and their clients projects.

2. Look at their previous work and their other clients: Most digital agencies will be eager to show off their previous and ongoing work. Their website will probably contain a portfolio or links to the websites they have designed and marketed. It is a good sign if a digital agency has large and small businesses in the client portfolio as this shows dedication to any work they are employed with, and the ability to manage large scale launches and marketing campaigns. Do you like the work that the digital agency has done for these clients? Has it won awards or been effective in selling more products? If you like the work they have done in the past, it will make it easier for you to work together in the management of your online business features.

3. Are they in it for the long haul? Having a profitable presence on the internet is more than just a successful website launch. If you are looking for a sustainable income from your website, through an e-commerce store for example, you will need continuous marketing support. If an agency offers marketing strategies along side its web design/development services, take advantage of this. The best digital agencies will employ marketing professionals to ensure that once your website has been launched onto the internet, it achieves maximum publicity. There are a number of different ways to achieve this which can be discussed during the proposal stage.

4. Take a look at the team: When you are considering a digital agency and what you want them to do for you, take a look at the staff they employ. Smaller digital agencies with a handful of staff members may find themselves overstretched. Ideally, staff members will specialise in one field be it website design, website development, web content writing, online marketing, and accounts management. Under this process, each member of staff dealing with your account will have a brief to work to and can focus on their task instead of spreading themselves too thinly over the project. The less work a member of staff has to do, the better they will do it.

5. Points mean prizes! Professional awards are difficult to be nominated for, let alone win. There is huge competition for every nomination and judging panels take the process very seriously. Awards and qualifications from search engines are impressive, as are specialist accolades from media publications, regional business awards and industry awards. Recognition from others in their own field should be taken notice of when choosing the right digital agency for you.

By following these tips you are sure to find a digital agency that will be a useful ally on the World Wide Web, increasing traffic to your website and thus boosting your profits.