What does a web agency want from a brief?
Last week I wrote a blog about how your website might be holding back your business. This time I’m covering the next step in that journey: talking to a web agency about getting a new one.
Before they can put together an effective proposal, any decent agency will want to ask a bunch of questions to get to the bottom of what you need. We certainly would. If you’re talking to a few agencies and looking for a range of approaches, you’ll find yourself answering the same questions again and again. So my advice is to put some key information down in a brief. That way everyone knows where you stand, and everyone’s starting from the same place.
What do we want from a brief?
1. Tell us about yourself
We’re not just being polite here. Knowing what sector you’re in, how long you’ve been around, who your customers are and what they think of you all steers us towards the kind of design you need. Turnover and size of your business are vital pieces of information too – a £100k company looks, acts and talks differently from a £1m company. A web agency needs to know who you are.
2. Evaluate your existing site
If you already have a website, it’s useful to know why you want to change it. So tell us about traffic and leads. Where are your visitors from? How are they viewing the site and how long are they hanging around? What do you still like about the site and where does it fall short? Be clear about things your current site isn’t doing, that you think the new one should.
3. Define the purpose of the new site
It’s surprising how many clients struggle with this one. Everyone knows they need a website, but not many people really think about why. So what’s the role of your site? Is it to sell your products, tell your story, promote your offers or explain your services? If you don’t have an idea of what your site is there to do, how are you going to judge a proposal? And how will you know what success looks like when you’ve achieved it?
4. What’s your budget?
We’re not trying to trick you into divulging some secret information. A website isn’t an off-the-shelf product. There’s more than one way to create a site that meets your needs, so knowing how much money is in the pot means agencies can focus on the best solutions for your budget. Plus, if we’re all working with the same constraints, when it comes to reviewing proposals, you know you’re comparing apples with apples.
5. What does that budget cover?
‘Build me a website’ can mean very different things to different kinds of agencies. So be clear – is your budget just for the physical build, or is for creating any or all the content as well? Think about who’s writing the words and where the images are coming from. Have you set anything aside for on-going support and maintenance? If you want, say, monthly blogs – who’s creating and uploading them? Finally, what about marketing – how will people know your new site even exists?
6. Show us what you like
Building a website is like any creative endeavour. It starts with a blank sheet of paper and has the potential to go off in an infinite number of directions. Unless that’s what you’re hoping for, it’s worth providing a few examples of websites that inspire you and the sort of thing you’re competing against in your sector. This provides a bit of context, and increases the chances that you’ll get something back that’s not completely unexpected.
This isn’t an exhaustive list of everything a web agency will need to know, of course. Good agencies will have their own questions too (that’s one way you’ll know if they’re good). But thinking about these points up-front means you won’t be entering into the conversations unprepared. Which means the agencies you’re talking to can spend less time digging for answers, and more time answering your problems with cool and creative ideas.
If you’re not sure whether you need a new website or not, then have a look at our eBook on the subject!