Do you really need a web design agency?

Thinking about hiring a web design agency? Think again. Is that really all you need, an agency that designs websites? Even if ‘design’ also encompasses building your site, I am not sure that is enough for most organisations.

Play

Do you really need a web design agency?

Thinking about hiring a web design agency? Think again. Is that really all you need, an agency that designs websites? Even if ‘design’ also encompasses building your site, I am not sure that is enough for most organisations.

It’s not enough to launch a website anymore, you also have to think about its long term running. There are so many questions to answer. Questions like:

  • Is your website recovering its costs?
  • How are you measuring its success?
  • Who is responsible for ensuring content is accurate and up to date?
  • What happens if a user complains about accessibility?
  • Who decides if there are disagreements about what should be on the site?

The list could go on.

More than just building sites

My point is that most organisations need more than a web design agency, that builds their site. They need a partner who can get really stuck into the organisation and help to answer these questions.

Organisations need a partner that can help with building a web team, setting policies and procedures, outlining a roadmap for future development, carrying out ongoing testing, establishing responsibilities and roles. They don’t just need somebody who is going to point out the problems, but an agency that will get involved in finding solutions.

Sure, there are smaller organisations that don’t need all of this. However, these are the kind of organisations that are probably better off working with a freelancer. Yes, there are some organisations that have already done all of this thinking and have their internal processes in place, but I suspect these are thin on the ground.

A web agency rather than a web design agency

You may have noticed that on the new Headscape website we don’t call ourselves a web design agency anymore, we refer to ourself as a web agency. That is because we believe our clients need a lot more than pretty pictures and development. Increasingly the work we do is as much about strategy, governance and measurement, as it is about building sites.

So next time you go to hire a web design agency, ask yourself whether you actually need something more. And if you are a web design agency, it might be time to step up your game and start offering your clients the kind of strategy and governance advice they need.

  • Guest

    I definitely agree with you, we prefer to call our organization (rtraction.com) a digital agency, but it’s the idea is the same. A website is a marketing tool, designers and developers alone can’t do it.
    That being said, your bio still says that you are the co-founder of a “web design agency” :)

  • http://devolute.net devolute

    A ‘web design agency’ is just a ‘design agency’ plus a mid-00’s buzzword.

  • http://twitter.com/ShannonKarleen Shannon Gallagher

    I definitely agree with you – our agency (rtraction.com) prefers the term “Digital Agency” but they are one in the same.
    Your website is a marketing tool, designers and developers can’t do it alone. Decisions about your website should be informed by research and strategy.
    That being said, your bio still says that you are the co-founder of a “web design agency” :).

  • Sarah

    I totally and completely agree. It can be difficult to show clients that what they really need isn’t so much “this one thing redesigned” or “that social media page set up”; it’s more about consistency and strategy. They figure it’s a one-time commitment on their part financially and time-wise, and I get them to slow down in the initial stages and look at the big picture. Unfortunately, that scares many clients with small budgets off, but they won’t end up being worthwhile long-term clients anyway, as I’ve learned. I’m repositioning my business as well so that it is more about strategy-building and less about “We build websites.”

  • http://twitter.com/paulkent_me Paul Kent

    I do struggle to convince clients that a web site needs a longer term strategy in terms of periodic performance reviews, hosting considerations, server maintenance plus support for updating content (if it’s a content managed site).

    They tend to have a fixed budget in their mind for a web site as if it were a product (rather than a service). After launch the site remains stagnant and neglected. This seems to be quite common (even in some bigger organisations) and there is some way to go in changing the mindset of a site owner.

    Also if clients decide on any updates needed the web agency might be excluded from the in-house planning process. So the agency ends up getting a client wish list, a fixed budget and a deadline.

    Yes, there are some great clients who want to buy into the bigger picture of a site but this is currently the exception rather than rule. It’s like saying I want to buy a shop on the high street but will only pay for the building itself and never change the contents.

  • http://www.cbil360.com/ Web Design Company

    Hi Paul,
    I am totally agree with your points which are highlighted here. As we are web design company(http://www.cbil360.com/) – we totally know that – How fulfill the clients requirement for their business to grow for a long term?

    Now, a days only designiong a beautiful website for any business – it’s not sufficient, along that we have to plan and execute web services in-order to success it online.

  • http://twitter.com/afterburnerapp Afterburner App

    Follow up for sure. We talk to our clients about long term strategy and setting up mid and long range goals. You need to keep content fresh, and a good tech to fix usability issues should always be a business day or two away

  • http://www.cdndesignstudio.com/ 3D Animation

    Really in today scenario a company which only provide web design and development service could not stay long time in competition, as now clients demand, amendments, maintenance, regularity in website and also high ranking of their website in search engines.

  • http://www.mkmsinfotech.com/ seo services

    Awesome post.Well written.I enjoyed reading your article.Many Thanks for sharing.Keep sharing in future too.
    -seo services

Headscape

Boagworld