Year 2014 is just around the corner and as we are about to indulge in the holiday spirit we are also feeling excited and a bit nervous to some extent about what the web landscape has in store for us in the coming year, especially for businesses who thrive on online presence.
In order to build your online presence you will need a really nice website which can help you achieve your desired business goals. Hiring a web design agency to build a website of your dreams will require clarity on what things should you consider while hiring a web design agency, specifically online.
1. Focus on user experience (UX) and not just design
No matter how good looking your website is, at the end of the day all that matters is how usable is the website, how easily the users are able to perform tasks on your website, and how easily they are able to find relevant information.
It’s about the overall user experience, and only a good-looking design cannot guarantee that.
Look for what conceptions the design agency has about Design. What design means to them?
- Do they practice Design Thinking as their approach to design?
- Do they try to solve your business problem with design?
- Can they make the design usable?
- Or do they consider design as just the look and feel of a website?
In addition, the design agency should have clear understanding of the distinction between UX and UI. Even today, most design agencies have a limited understanding of the usability aspect of design. For them, design is all about how your website or product looks like.
Keeping that in mind, make sure that you do your homework first. Dig deeper into how design can be used to deliver memorable user experiences, and then see how the design agency fits into your requirements.
2. End to End Web expertise
Though we are specifically talking about finding an ideal web design agency, we can’t ignore the web development part.
While design is the front-end, development is the back-end or backbone of a website. It’s like the pillars on which your website rests.
You definitely wouldn’t like a website that has an exceptional design, but doesn’t function properly or is not able to handle a high number of visitors. Design has to be backed-up by a strong architecture, and it’s only possible if the development team is well-versed in latest web technologies.
More importantly, the efforts of the design and development teams should be well-coordinated so that the web design and development activities are driven in the right direction.
3. Quality of the portfolio
In the existing competitive web environment, one of the key things to look for in an offshore web design agency is the quality of experience they have in web design.
You would agree with me in that without a considerable quality portfolio in web design, it’s most likely that the design agency will be beating around the bush rather than hitting the nail right on the head. Your entire web design project can go haywire, adding to your costs, delaying the time-to-market, and lost business opportunities.
If the agency has a quality experience of around 10 years, it’s safe to assume that the company has seen the growth in the design industry and survived through the ups and downs. In the end, you can be rest assured that your website is in good hands.
4. Nimble processes and methodologies
No project can be executed smoothly unless there are industry-best processes and methodologies in place. So make sure that the web design agency follows some standard processes and practices like ISO, CMMI, and Agile development to ensure smooth deliver of your project.
In addition, having right processes in place will help increase the speed-to-market and ensure rapid deliveries and higher efficiency.
Also look for the tools they use to manage projects such as Basecamp, and bug tracking tools such as Mantis, Bugzilla, and more. These tools ensure efficient management of time and resources, and help keep the project on track.
5. Track record of delivering successful projects
Another factor to measure while selecting a design agency is to go through their track record of previous projects.
Any successful and efficient design agency will definitely highlight their key projects. They would showcase their clients’ success stories or case studies and the value they added to their clients’ businesses.
Ask for references of their satisfied customers, and talk to those customers about how they would rate the design agency in certain parameters such as quality, performance, project management, project delivery, communication, timeliness, etc. In most cases, the design agency itself will have these ratings in place, and you just need to validate them with the relevant clients.
6. Type of customers served
Another important factor to look for in a design agency is the type of customers they’ve served in the past.
Having worked with a versatile customer base in variety of industries or verticals will ensure that agency has the capability to work on multi-faceted projects with varied complexities, which will add the required depth to your web design project.
In addition to that if the agency is able to share their customer testimonials publicly, it further testifies their ability to deliver quality work and earning good rapport with their customers.
7. Awards and recognition
Last but not the least is the awards and recognition bagged by the design agency. These are the testimony to their capabilities and will add credibility to the promises they make to you in terms of quality and timely delivery.
Look for the awards and recognition the agency has won for themselves or for their customers.
The above factors point toward the things which you should look for in an ideal web design agency. However, there are certain things you should be prepared with at your end so that you are able to make strategic decisions in hiring an offshore web design agency.
The most important thing to have upfront is the list of goals and your company’s vision that you want to achieve through the web design or re-design. Unless you are sure of what you need, you’ll never be able to communicate the requirements with the prospective design agency.
Do your homework even before approaching any design agency because you wouldn’t like to be driven in the wrong direction by an agency whose sole purpose is to make profit out of the business engagement with you.
To conclude, don’t pounce on the very first opportunity that attracts you. Explore options and evaluate the candidates to choose the right fit for your offshore web design project.