A True Partner Is There From Step One
The right agency is your partner before signing on any dotted lines. From the get go, collaboration is key, and this includes helping you accurately and transparently scope your project before contracts are locked. We always warn clients about prices that are too good to be true. When a proposed budget is 40% cheaper than the rest, you are likely receiving 40% less work (or worse), so don’t be surprised when “unforeseen” costs pop up later.
Honesty and open communication are never to be underrated when choosing a partner, so always look for an agency that explains their thought process from the very beginning, not simply giving you what you want without proper discovery.
This brings up the next major point-
Discovery, Research, & Strategy—The Unsung Heroes
Very often, no design agency can answer every question ahead of proper discovery and research, and usually this happens after a project has begun. A scope of work that assumes no surprises is doing you an enormous disservice. A true partner will walk you through where some gaps may be left “to be determined,” not promising you the moon and under-delivering when hours run out on unanticipated complications. Things come up! Like opening the walls in an old house. But they should never be complete surprises, and a true partner will help you budget properly for this, and most importantly, find these surprises as soon as possible. You want (and deserve) a partner who does the work up front, utilizing robust discovery to head off as many complications as possible.
Beyond minimizing any surprises, we believe all projects should be heavily grounded in research and strategy. Understanding the market, understanding your competitors, and staying ahead of digital trends are keys to making your project stand out. The web is a cluttered space, and too often, a monotonous one. Investing in thorough research will yield the best results- in aesthetics, functionality, and usability. This is where a design partner can really help guide your project towards maximum success.
Collaboration Always Wins
Throughout the process, you want to leverage both areas of expertise- your own as well as the design agency. No matter how hard a design agency tries, they will never be experts in your vertical. Collaboration is key, especially when exploring things like copy, deciding on user journeys, and refining site architecture. The opposite is also true. You want an agency that actually guides you toward making decisions based on best practices. An agency that is your true partner will speak up, speak their mind, and talk you through what may be a better decision (and why). This isn’t a bad thing. The “why” is everything and will always set you apart in a cluttered digital space. Design isn’t simply aesthetics; there are incredibly complex thoughts that go into crafting the most usable, most accessible, and best looking digital experiences. Take advantage of what everyone brings to the table.
A True Partner Is In It For The Long Run
Always look for an agency that has an eye on the future, expressing thoughts and solutions for down the road, well after launch. Thinking long term benefits everyone. When you grow, the design agency growths with you. If an agency doesn’t seem fully invested in you, your immediate and long term goals, your current and developing mission and vision, they are not a partner you want. A project deadline is just the beginning. The trajectory that can be achieved when an agency is committed as you are is powerful. Relationships (like wine) get better with age, so it is never too early to be looking for that special connection.
We would love to talk more about this! Reach out here.