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10 Tips for Choosing the Right Web Agency

Jean-François Arnaud
Jean-François ArnaudCEO of Blacksmith

How do I choose a web agency?

If you are here, it is because you probably have a project to create a website, redesign a graphic charter or even develop a web or mobile application.

This step is key for you, and you want to be sure not to make a mistake in the choice of your provider.

We will see in this article 10 criteria that will allow you to make the best choice and to be sure that your web project will be in good hands :)

How do I choose a web agency?

1) Expression of requirements and specifications

A serious web agency must ask you for specifications or take a detailed look at your needs before offering you a quote.

To start a relationship with a web agency, it is important to gather your needs, ideally within an expression of requirements.

This document will allow the web agency or the development studio to gather all the information necessary for the project: project objectives, detailed explanation of the needs, functionalities necessary for the product that you wish to have developed, competing products that you like, graphic design that you don't like, budget range, technical constraints...

The more detailed the document, the easier it will be for the service provider to fully understand your needs and to propose a solution to meet them.

If you do not know how or do not wish to write this document yourself, there are other possibilities, for example asking the web development agency for a mission to write specifications, or opting for a project management operation. which allows to work without detailed specifications (this is the case on an operation in agile methodology or in management with actual invoicing or "time and material").

2) How Do I Choose the Right Agency Type for My Project?

Web agency, digital agency, wordpress agency, marketing agency, custom code agency, no-code agency... behind these terms are different types of service providers who, if they can all support you on certain similar subjects such as creation of websites, these will not necessarily use the same methods or technologies.

Many marketing or digital agencies only use prefabricated themes (as allowed for example by Wordpress) to create websites and will not be able to create a website from designs created to measure for you.

Thus, some agencies will be able to create showcase sites in no-code (for example with Webflow) from personalized models, but will not be able to create a member area allowing data to be viewed.

Others have a good command of the web part but do not know how to develop mobile applications or do not go further in putting them online than by using standard hosting which will not potentially be resilient in the face of connection peaks or secure in the face of to hacker attacks.

Finally, some agencies will focus on areas of expertise such as e-commerce, SaaS, eco-design or even Web 3.0 and will not necessarily be able to support you outside of these areas of expertise.

Before getting started with an agency, it is important to take note of the skills mastered by the agency you are contacting and to make sure that it will be able to meet your needs.

3) How do I contact a Web Agency

Contacting a web agency can be done by phone or e-mail and a contact should normally be followed by a proposal for an appointment.

Any serious company will request a telephone, video or meeting interview to discuss and understand your needs.

During this meeting, you will be able to describe your project in more detail, but also ask more questions about the functioning of the web agency: has it already developed projects similar to yours? How does the agency manage its projects? Which technical solutions does it offer to meet your needs?

3) How do I contact a Web Agency

4) How is the agency's website?

This is a determining factor in the choice of a web agency: does its site meet your expectations?

If you want an eco-designed site, maybe it would be a good idea to test it on WebsiteCarbon to make sure that as Blacksmith's website, the agency's website, is relatively low in CO2 emissions.

If you want to modernize your brand image, there is little chance that you will choose a web agency whose design of the showcase site has remained stuck in the 90s.

If you are looking for a service that includes article writing, it would be logical for the agency selected to have a regularly updated blog :)

We advise you to choose a company that has a website that you like, both in terms of its navigation, its graphic universe, its user experience or even any services and APIs it integrates.

5) How is your responsive?

As we indicated in this article, Google announced at the end of 2017 that searches on smartphones have exceeded searches on computers in France.

It would therefore be unfortunate for a web professional to have a site that is incompatible with different media such as smartphones, tablets and computers.

6) Portfolio, reviews and reputation

Customer reviews and distinctions are guarantees of quality and say a lot about the work of a web agency.

Do not hesitate to conduct research to ensure that the web agency you have selected has successfully supported its clients.

If so, you need to be able to verify the satisfaction of the agency's clients.

At Blacksmith, these elements are visible on our sortlist page, in the distinctions obtained such as the European Sortlist Award 2022 "best customer satisfaction", the label of the CCI Ile-de-France in the "website creation" category, but also in our google reviews).

In addition to client reviews, it is important to form an opinion on the work of the agency by consulting its portfolio and client references.

Do not hesitate to ask questions, ask to see works close to the mission you wish to entrust to the web agency and to directly consult the websites and applications developed.

7) Small Agencies VS Large Agencies - Which Is Better?

Be careful to choose an agency adapted to the size of your company:

  1. too large it may not be suitable for a small structure such as a VSE and may not treat your project with as much importance as you

  2. too small and it may not be able to bring together all the skills necessary for your project such as video content creation or influence marketing

8) What is the average price of a website?

Once you've made your selection, it's time to request a quote.

A serious and professional agency will be able to provide you with a detailed quote.

Although this is an approximation, this first estimate will give you an idea of what to expect.

Don't forget that an estimate at an overly attractive price is often synonymous with incompetence, misunderstanding (the agency will have largely underestimated your need), subcontracting abroad (with the risk of understanding of the subject and the quality of code that it entails) or worse, a scam.

Also watch out for long and unclear quotes.

Obviously, the price is a selection criterion, and it will be necessary to arbitrate between a proposal that is too low in relation to the quantity of work requested and an above-ground proposal... do not listen to the agencies who tell you (true story!) "a showcase site below €100,000, but that's not possible".

9) When can you start?

During your first interaction with the agency, did she seem available or overwhelmed?

Was she able to quickly come back to you to offer you an appointment or did you wait weeks?

If there is no absolute rule, a "100% available" agency can indicate that it currently has no project and therefore few clients (for lack of marketing and sales forces? clients do not stay? ).

If it is overloaded, it is also a risk: your project may suffer delays in the delivery date if the agency does not staff accordingly to its workload.

Ideally, the agency's first return should take approximately 1-3 business days.

10) Whenever there is any doubt, there is no doubt

We have seen together 9 key points for choosing the right web agency... if the previous points did not allow you to make a choice, then trust your impression!

As the saying goes "Whenever there is any doubt, there is no doubt!" ;)

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