Your company’s presence in the World Wide Web - how to determine your scope and choose the right agency
Story by Alex Augustyniak
5 min read
Your website is your business card on the internet, often the first thing people see when searching for your company. Just like having custom email domains, a proper website shows your professionalism and attention to detail.
The number of factors to take into consideration can be overwhelming. This article aims at unraveling those issues - we’ll bring up questions most customers have at this point, and attempt to answer them as best we can.
Innovations or proven solutions?
What problem does your website address? Is informing customers about your products its single purpose, or perhaps your vision includes an e-commerce section, with registration, user reviews, and a forum? This leads us neatly to the first point - the goal of your website.
Once you have determined your goal, you can choose an appropriate technology - if your project can easily be developed in a well-established engine such as WordPress, Drupal, or another popular CMS. Using proven solutions will make the system much easier to set up, optimize and administer. Expanding the website with further modules or plugins will also be much more available - and less time-consuming. Additionally, most issues that you might run into can probably be solved with a quick search engine browse, and might not even require developers' attention.
To put it simply - do your research, and ask around - you will find that many agencies advertise their expertise in chosen tech stacks, and will often have finished projects to show off. Searching for a company that has a similar project to what you have in mind is a great solution - just remember not to cross out those who do not directly advertise a specific technology. Many software houses are just itching for an opportunity to develop their portfolio with a brilliant innovative project. If an agency has picked your interest - just ask them!
Always check their reputation!
Look up what other customers have to say about them:
- How was the communication? How good are they at listening to, and translating customer requests into reality? What was the response time?
- Was the finished product delivered exactly as ordered?
- Were there any delays?
- Did the process require a lot of customer attention?
- How is the maintenance? Are issues fixed quickly? Are updates quick?
Where can you look for reviews? Google Maps and Clutch - both are good places to look up reviews. Simply entering the agency name into a search engine and reading its clients’ reviews can give you a good outlook on its reputation online.
But beware of fake reviews! Buying “illegal” reviews or likes online is quickly becoming a thing. There are websites that help reveal suspicious grading activity, but as usual, it's best to just read through some of them. Do all reviews look alike? Are 95% of them 5-star successes? You can never be certain, but usually when something looks too good to be true - it probably is.
Focus your scope
Specify your expectations. This is a fundamental step in the development process - only with solid foundations can we set out to measure the efficiency and success of the project.
- Who are your customers? How and why will they use your product and what benefit does it offer over competitors?
- What will your website do? Is it just for information? Advertising? An online shopping platform?
- How do you measure your success? Traffic gained? Newsletter subscriptions? Increase in sales?
It’s entirely possible to go overboard in both directions - set too many goals or limit your project too much. A good agency will guide you through this process - that is why it's a good idea to search for ones with experience in similar projects. They will make sure that your goals are realistic and bring about measurable results.
Choosing a developer is by no means a simple decision, and there are no 100% fail-proof solutions. The more research about your project and the chosen agency you do before signing any contracts the better. Contact as many as you can! Compare offers, and choose what fits your project best. Are you wondering whether you should work with an agency or hire a freelancer? We've got you covered! Check out one of our blog posts where we delve into the key differences between working with a freelancer versus a software house as well as what you need to consider before making your decision.
Quite a few factors need to be considered, as we’ve shown in this article. Spending less upfront might save your budget for a while, but it just as well might come back to haunt you in the long run, through maintenance, painful updates, or avoidable issues.
Above all else, try to remember that we’re all people. Not sure about something? Go ahead and ask.