No matter the complexity, starting a website project can be a daunting prospect particularly if you are not necessarily tech minded. Too often we are having conversations with clients that have had a previously poor experience when working on a digital project which, can be avoided. For this reason we decided to create a document that would guide SME’s through the process. The downloadable ebook covers the following areas:

  • Pre project planning and considerations.
  • How to hire a website development agency.
  • What to do during the project.
  • Website launch.

Firstly, let’s address why SME’s can have a negative experience.

The decisions

you make before the project has even started will shape the success of the outcome

Pre project decisions are vital when considering a new website. A website project requires a lot of pre planning. There are so many things to consider before you even source a supplier to complete the project. These include:

  • The purpose of the website.
  • The content delivered (your brand voice, USP’s, Value proposition).
  • The audience groups and user experience.
  • The outcome (what you want people to do once they are on your website).
  • A realistic budget and timescale.

You can read our blog on How SME’s can capitalise on digital channels to achieve their growth goals for more information about this. The above formulate your project brief which will determine the specification of your project.

Hiring a website development agency

This is probably the single most important decision you will make. Almost every time we are talking to a client that has had a negative experience of launching a digital project they have been let down by their previous supplier in some way. Digital projects are complex and require a lot of trust that the project has been completed to a high standard. It’s not just about what you can see, the code that drives your website needs to be well structured and follow high standards of practice. We have some tips below that will help you have a positive experience.

  • Do not hire on recommendation alone. Yes your colleague may of had a positive experience with a supplier but your project might be more complex so do your own research too. You want to be sure that the agency has the required capability to deliver your project to a high standard.
  • Take time to view the digital agency’s portfolio and ask them questions about projects that you like.
  • Ask for a demo of the Content Management System (CMS). In our experience, many SME’s make a buying decision purely based on what an agency’s portfolio looks like (the graphics). This is an important factor but if you are serious about utilising your website as powerful marketing tool a user friendly, flexible CMS is imperative to the success of your project. Ask for a full demo of the proposed CMS.
  • Freelancers. There are some fantastic freelancers that produce outstanding work in the digital field but because of the accessibility of ‘learning to code’ there are also poor suppliers out there. The most common complaint that we hear when clients are talking about previous negative experiences is ‘we could never get hold of our supplier’ and ‘it takes weeks to get any minor changes done’. The issue is that one person can only do so much and if they haven’t got a business approach to service and support you are going to experience issues. By hiring an agency you experience a systematic approach to projects, a wealth of experience and an infrastructure. There are team members that are always available in the office to help with any questions or updates.
  • Avoid buying on price. Buy on the service and product that is being proposed. It’s impossible to compare website proposals entirely like for like as although the specification may be the same the approach will always be different from agency to agency. As an example is the website a completely bespoke design? What CMS is being developed? What is the multi device/cross browser/performance testing process? What is the quality of their service and delivery. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If a proposal is more expensive there will be a good reason why and vice versa – a very low price should raise concerns as there are a lot of hours, expertise and knowledge that goes into delivering a successful project.
  • Meet with all of your selected agency’s. You are going to be forming a solid commercial relationship, it helps if your values are aligned and you like the people. By meeting them you will also get a feel for their approach and expertise. It will build confidence in your decisions.

The above are some useful tips – You can download our ebook guide to ‘Starting a website project’ which covers the entire process as well as providing a useful tick list of actions to complete.