You have defined your needs and your specifications are ready to be sent. But to whom? A crucial step remains to be taken with the selection of a service provider. The web agencies in your area will probably all be listening, but how can you be sure to make the right choice?
How to find the agency that brings together the right expertise, and who will propose a solution REALLY adapted to your needs?
Here is a short guide to help you see more clearly on:
- The commercial discourse
- Packaged offers
- Creative quality
- Who does what in the agency
The first reflex is to consult the websites of the agencies to see their offer. This is where we often find the first indications of the level of professionalism of the agency.
1. The commercial discourse
Pay attention to the realism of the discourse, and the popularization effort that is done to explain the nature of the benefits.
Attention to the simplistic speeches of the type “With us, the internet is easy …”. Commercial speeches tend to simplify things, but to pretend that the Internet is easy, … it does not augur well.
Another speech to take with tweezers, the one of “Your site professional cheap … in 2 times 3 movements”. Unless you just need a showcase site of about ten pages without special technical requirements, realizing a website for a small business or quality e-commerce shop requires at least 2-3 weeks of work between its conception and its putting on line. This working time at a cost which certainly can not be a few hundred euros, unless … we offer packaged offers.
2. Packaged offers
Many agencies now offer packages of turnkey websites or e-commerce “turnkey” at unbeatable costs. One must understand what is behind this type of offer before choosing one of them.
With the development of Content Management Systems (CMS), website manufacturing has entered an industrial era. Concretely, a technical core already existing (and often free, thanks to open source software …) allows to infinitely duplicate the same structure of site, that it is enough to personalize with its own texts and photos. The saving of time in terms of development in considerable.
Graphically, these CMS are often matched with pre-designed design, customizable in a few hours. There, too, huge time saving, and therefore reduced production cost. The disadvantage of this system is that often you will end up with a site that will look quite like hundreds of others,
Before choosing this type of offer, make sure with the agency that you can benefit from the level of technical and graphical customization that your project requires. It will cost a little more, all of a sudden …
This is important because we do not work in the same way on an e-commerce site (= sales logic), on a showcase site (= communication logic) or on an information portal (= logical editorial). Each type of project has its own specificities and requires adequate knowledge, in particular at design level (ergonomics + usability). If you want to make an e-commerce site, do not go to an agency that has only references to real estate agency sites and showcase sites.
Expertise saves time on how to carry out a project. The expert knows how to go to the basics because it lets you benefit from his experience on his similar projects.
The expertise is also (to a certain extent) a guarantee that the result of the service will comply with the professional standards of the internet.
In general, web agencies claim to be experts whatever the type of site, but rarely, unless they have enough staff to have all the necessary skills in-house.
Finally, packaged offers “e-commerce site, from X euros / month” are not a guarantee of expertise. They can be sold by anyone. It is therefore necessary to verify that the e-commerce expertise is not limited to the proposal of the technical solution, but also to the design of the graphical interface, and webmarketing.
4. Creative quality
A good agency must be able to design sites that are in the standards of the moment in terms of webdesign.
A website is primarily a visual interface. The first image you will give to your visitors is the quality of your design, clarity of information, and overall ergonomics.
A good agency must be able to show you references from customer sites that are in line with current standards in graphics. This is all the more important because on the Internet, everything evolves very quickly.
How do you get an idea of these standards? Visit sites that talk about webdesign, go see your industry leading websites, or read my blog … because I often website analysis here , i will or even here .
And finally, and this is perhaps the best clue, look at the site of the agency itself. It is a safe bet that she will not be able to offer you a quality website if she is not able to do it for herself.
5. Who does what in the agency?
Creating a website, even simple, requires several types of skills, at least a webdesigner and a developer. For important sites, you will also need to add a project manager, a designer / ergonomist, an editor, a photographer, and others.
So the question is whether the web agency has in-house expertise sufficient for your project, and if so, at what level of expertise?
From experience, a developer is never an excellent webdesigner and vice versa. One can be touching everything, but never expert in everything.
Similarly, a developer never mastered all development languages. He will therefore tend to develop your site with the language he best understands, without necessarily wondering if it is the one that best suits your needs. It is important to know and understand what the agency proposes to you to guarantee the perenniality of your site (see also the article on Errors to avoid to avoid slipping the budget of its internet project ).
6. What is outsourced?
A web agency can also propose a project to which it subcontracts a part, because it does not possess all the skills. But she rarely tells you … for fear of losing the project to another agency more complete. This is often the case in terms of development, or services complementary to the creation of the site such as referencing or emailing, which are very specific skills.
Above all, it should be verified that the subcontracted service is re-invoiced at a fair cost, as it often costs less than the price at which the agency sells it to you. This may be justified in some cases, but the essential point is that there is no abuse on this point.
7. Contacting Customers
The best way to get an opinion on an agency is to talk about it with those who have already called on its services. All the web agencies have on their site a section with the sites they have realized (and of which they are proud …). Try to find one that resembles your project, and contact the owner to know his opinion.
Some agencies in Normandy
To facilitate your research, here is a non exhaustive list of the main Norman web agencies, based in and around Rouen . I did not make a selection, I let you judge for yourself on the basis of the previous explanations 😉
Any testimony (constructive, I specify …) on a collaboration with one of these agencies is welcome. The comments are there for that.
If you still can not find the perfect web agency for your project, or if you feel that your project requires a global expert coaching, you can always call on my services 😉
EDIT : I just came across an edifying testimony of a person whose adventure in e-commerce turned into a fiasco because of a badly designed site Torpille.fr – Feedback . READ ABSOLUTELY.
But the fault to whom? Bad choice of agency or bad client? The web agency seems to have a sacred responsibility anyway …
This further strengthens point 3 on expertise: work with people who bring proof of their expertise in the field you are targeting.