Choosing a Web Agency

Right, so you’ve finalized your website concept and you’ve chosen your domains, now it’s time to choose who will build your website for you and make your business / website concept a reality.

Well, given the fact that we are a South Africa Web Agency, the purpose of this particular post or article is to try and not be biased, but give neutral tips and advice on how to choose the web agency that you can rely on to get the job done properly and efficiently.

Choosing a Web Agency to build your website:

Your website reflects your brand and / or your company, so you want the site to look and function well. There are numerous things to consider doing before choosing a web company to build your website to ensure your website is a good representation of your business.

Find below our thoughts / comments on choosing your website development company:

  • The web agency you use SHOULD HAVE A WEBSITE. A web agency without a website should ring alarm bells.
  • Check out their portfolio of work and visit websites they have built – usually this will be available on their website.
    • Does the design look good?
    • Do all the links work?
    • Has the template been applied throughout the website i.e. on the all pages (keeping a standard)
  • Get references or testimonials from 1 or 2 clients and find out their feedback on working with the web company
    • Did they meet deadlines?
    • Were they happy with their turnaround time?
    • Etc
  • If search engine optimization is an issue for you i.e. you want to be found on search engines, check whether their sites rank on search engines. A number of agencies are saying they do search engine optimization, but their techniques are either old, dangerous or simply don’t work. Tips on checking if a site ranks well or not:
    • Don’t type in the name of the site
    • Type in the subject of the site, or type in the title of the site, as this is generally what they would try to rank for i.e. if it’s a hotel accommodation site in south Africa, type in South Africa Hotels, or if they are web designers in South Africa, type in South Africa Web Design.
    • Check the sites on major and local search engines e.g. Google.com, Google.co.za, Ananzi.co.za, MSN.com, Yahoo.com, etc
  • If you are looking for a customized database solution or a website where you can manage certain elements or want fancy processing, make sure to find out whether:
    • The company can develop systems to support your requirement.
    • The company can do the work
  • Find out the process of developing a website with the web agency – ask questions like:
    • How much – get a quote in writing
    • Terms and conditions
    • Payment terms (Do you pay a deposit? When do you pay final amount?)
    • Do you get to see a design first before they code?
    • How many variations / different designs will you see?
    • DEADLINE! DEADLINE! DEADLINE!
    • How does support work e.g. if you have a content management system and you pick up a funny / issue / bug, will you be billed extra for it, will they support you, etc
  • Find out the support costs once the site has been built and you need enhancements done.

Comments / Tips / Advice:

  • If you are looking to have a custom system built that is built to support your process / business, be careful that you are not sold one of these off the shelf content management systems.
  • Avoid using a friend or a “friend of a friend” to build your website SPECIFICALLY IF they don’t build websites regularly or for a living.
  • If you are looking for a customized solution, make sure that you get asked questions. If a company is going to build a website requirement that is to support your business, how are they going to do that WITHOUT KNOWING OR UNDERSTANDING YOUR BUSINESS AND BUSINESS NEEDS.
  • When building a website that may need constant attention and may need enhancements as your business grows, make sure you are comfortable working with the selected web agency. A web agency, in a funny way, is almost part of your business as they are responsible for your online presentation and as a “partner” in the business, you need to be comfortable when working with them, trust them to do a good job and rely on them to do the required work in a suitable time frame.
  • Use your gut feeling / intuition.
  • Don’t opt for the cheapest or most expensive web agency. Cheaper / More Expensive doesn’t mean better.