Businesses in Cambridge and throughout the UK are faced with a bewildering choice when it comes to web and design agencies.

Here are some tips when choosing a digital agency to help make the right choice.

  • Draw up a short list of requirements. What is the project? Pure creative design, website, e-commerce, PR or marketing? All of them? Talk to friends/colleagues and use Google to make a list of potential agencies that deliver the services you need.
  • Word of mouth and personal recommendationss are key. Talking to colleagues and contacts is a great way to gather information based on real experiences. Use search engines to widen the net.
  • Look at the agency's own and client websites to see if they have delivered successful work which relates to the type of work you are looking for.
  • First impressions are important, make sure the agency's website works and makes sense. Navigate to find the type of projects that they deliver and the sorts of organisations they do it for. 
  • Check their location. Some Cambridge agencies are based well outside the city which might not matter however remember you may be working together for years and so location and access are important.
  • Check their main focus, if you need a website and the agency are mainly focussed on PR then I would suggest you remove them from your shortlist.
  • If it is a website, app or other development does the technology fit? This might not matter for a small project but the chances are that you will want to integrate your shiny new website with your customer data, or a stock management system. Make sure the agencies on your list support the technologies you need.
  • Size matters, check that the agency are big enough to handle your project, and have the staff and structure in place to support you going forward. Be aware that some agencies mainly run on freelancers; continuity can be an issue.

Now pick up the phone and make a call. If that call is to us, brilliant, contact us here.  I know we all use email but first impression is important and so telephone is best. Remember that we agency folks are supposed to be responsive so don’t worry about catching us unprepared. This is almost a test in itself.

Explain what you want, see what reaction you get. Ideally you want to be in a position to send over your list of requirements, with budget if possible. Then go and meet the agency to discuss how you could take it forward.

It is important to go and see the agency as you want to make sure they are real (some are not) and also because you will be working with these people. When you meet with the agency you need to find out the following:

  • Commercially do they fit?
  • Are they the right size for the project?
  • Do they challenge you and your requirements to shape an overall better scope?
  • Do you like examples of their design?
  • Have they the right expertise and team to deliver what you need? 
  • Do they have the support/insurance/industry partners needed to provide an ongoing service?
  • Can they back all this up with case studies?
  • Are they local? Does that matter?

What about the people? You might be working with this team for years (we have several clients who have been with us for more than 10 years). It is important that you can form a solid working relationship (partnership even), based on trust and common goals.

Hopefully at this point you have narrowed your selection to two or three agencies, after which it will come down to a traditional pitch process.

Good luck!

David Donnan, Igentics MD.