Want a new website? Read on….

Paul Hunt

May 15, 2018

Paul Hunt is a marketing consultant

The internet, what would we do without it? For example, today I’ve looked at websites for research on firms I’m meeting next week, I’ve browsed today’s news and football updates, plus used Wikipedia to appease my curiosity after walking past a blue plaque whilst on my morning dog walk.

Hard to believe it’s 27 years ago that the World Wide Web entered the mainstream and although we sometimes pine for the innocence of the pre-web days, this is one thing I’d not be prepared to give up.

So, when you’re looking at your website either to build from scratch or reviewing an existing site, how do you go about briefing an agency?

What problem are you trying to solve?

It’s a simple question but it is such an important one at the beginning of a project. Agencies will often spend 90% of their time tying to ascertain the answer to this from clients, so if you’ve already given this some thought, the agency will thank you for it.

Of course, it can be difficult to be objective about your own site, but this is where a good agency can really help.

What does success look like?

If you say “a hamburger menu”, your agency may well throw their hands in the air and give out a massive sigh. Obviously, they need something quantitative. This will help you to ensure they don’t go beyond scope. They should also have this at the back of their minds at every design decision and every usability test will be designed around that.

Finally, once the project is live for some time you can both measure and decide whether you just got a new site (ok…) or are making more money (usually the goal in financial services).

What is in the background?

An experienced agency can often see a risk coming before you can. Site changes and rebrands for the company as a whole often go hand in hand (albeit not always progressing at the same speed!), so be open with your agency and ensure all parties are aware of the wider work going on.

Who are your users?

A good web agency will be user experience designers and so will need to know who your users are. If personas are included in your budget, they’ll create personas based on research or your insight.

Either way, they will need to validate the designs with people other than you, so having some customers that you can test things with will be invaluable.

Who are your competitors?

Any agency worth their salt will take inspiration from them. Learn from their successes and their mistakes and put you ahead of the game.

Normally they will also add some of their own favourite projects in the mix, even if they’re not competitors, to make your site different and stand out from your peers.

Who are the main stakeholders?

When creating the brief it is essential that you advise ALL the stakeholders who may wish to have an input on the designs. If they’re decision-makers they need to be involved from the beginning. It wastes time (the agency’s and yours) on a project if people who weren’t aware of what was happening now need to make changes.

Thinking about these questions before approaching an agency can help you get a lot more out of their pitch, enabling you to make a more informed decision on who to work with and, hopefully, you get a great new website at the end.

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