Type “digital product agency” into Google and you are going to get over 1,400,000 results. There are certainly no shortage of companies available, yet choosing an agency to develop and design your next product can be a complicated and nerve-racking task.
Placing the technical development of your next website or app in the hands of an external company is a scary thing to do, especially when the success of your business depends on it. How can you trust that they’ll be able to bring your brilliant ideas to fruition on time, on budget and to the standards you require?
In this article we’ll take a look at a few considerations you should make and a few tell-tale signs to look out for while making your choice.
You may be wondering if you can trust an article on how to select a digital agency when it’s written by one. Our objective in writing this article is to help you identify an agency that is a good fit for your company and product. Not all companies and agencies are compatible, and that’s okay. We hope you can use the advice below to make an informed decision about whether us or our competitors are a good fit for you.
1. Where to look
As mentioned above, Google offers an overwhelming amount of options and it can be hard to know which company to trust. The best place to start is with asking your peer and business network for recommendations. You may be surprised with how many of them already have experience in the space and people like to recommend the companies they love working with.
If failing that, look at apps, websites and products that you like and if possible, find out who built them. It shouldn’t matter if they are based locally or internationally. With the amount of ways to communicate and manage projects online, where the agency is based shouldn’t play massively into your decision. Would you rather an average team based down the road or a superstar team located across the globe?
Obviously, it’s important to have a clear idea of your budget and planned spend at the start of every project. Being transparent with an agency about your budget is as important as them being transparent with you about cost. You should expect a clear breakdown of pricing that lists the estimated charges of each phase and item of the project. Having both parties be clear and open during this process is critically important as it will ultimately determine the scope of the finished product.
Although it may be tempting to choose an agency based on value and price, it really shouldn’t be a primary determining factor. Assuming you are not breaking the bank, you should choose the agency you feel will build it right, not cheap.
3. Shared interest
Do they show a keen interest in your company and product goals? Do they understand the problem your product is trying to fix? The answers to both of these questions should be a resounding “yes” if you hope to work well together. On the flip side, an agency that spends too much time focusing on themselves and their previous achievements may prove to be mostly self-interested.
It’s important that your chosen agency shows enthusiasm and is diligent about getting to know your company and product idea.
4. Previous products
What are their previous products like? Do they impress you? They absolutely should! If their previous work is missing the “wow-factor” you are looking for then there isn’t much hope that yours will be made any better.
Similarly, having a list of existing products that you like and that you can set as a quality benchmark (even if they are made by another agency) is a great way to show an agency what you are aiming for.
5. Previous clients
Are you impressed by the agency's previous clients? Are they successful? Of course not every product worked on by an agency is going to be successful and not every company is going to survive its first few years in business, but having a few wins and a couple of thriving clients under their belt proves that they know how to execute on a product idea and help build it into something prosperous.
6. Client testimonials
What do their previous clients say about them? Did they offer you the opportunity to reach out to them directly for a reference? Looking to their previous clients for impartial advice is a great idea. When asking previous clients for advice you should ask about areas for improvement and what didn’t go well as much as the successes. It’s important to gain an objective understanding of how they worked together as opposed to only getting glowing praise.
If you eventually choose to go with the agency, this may also help you avoid any potential bumps down the road.
7. Range of services
How much of your product will they be able to create? Are they only capable of working on the development or can they handle the design too? Having to use separate agencies for various aspects of your final product (eg. UX design, UI design, analytics) can be costly, time consuming and inefficient.
8. Rapport & communication
How well do you actually get along? Can you see yourselves working happily together into the future? How well do you communicate? These are incredibly important questions to answer. Building a product together can take several months. Having a solid rapport and open levels of communication between your company and the agency can really help with how smoothly it all goes.
What’s more, the relationship between your company and the agency is unlikely to end at the launch of your product. Regularly, agencies will be needed to continue working with you throughout the entire lifecycle of your product.
9. Further insights
Do they make suggestions about different ways you could potentially enhance your product or are they simply following instructions? Ideally, an agency should leverage their experience, offer you feedback and potentially even challenge you on aspects of your product idea. In most cases, this will tell you that the agency is engaged in your idea and is invested in its success.
10. Listen to your gut
After going through all of the above points it is time to ask yourself the most important question; are they the right fit? Do you think they will meet all of your expectations and make your product dreams come true? Being able to answer these questions without hesitation should ultimately indicate if this agency is the right agency for you.