So you’ve decided to work with an agency on your new website. It might seem more complicated and possibly more expensive than hiring a freelancer, especially if you’re a startup looking to bring a new product to market in a hurry, but there are good reasons to choose an agency for your web or app development.
It might seem that a smaller, leaner build will benefit from a single developer, but consider the complexity and expertise that went into planning and creating your start-up idea – and then imagine not transferring same attention to the development project.
Can a single developer handle it? It’s the difference between having your shop fitted out by a single builder – he or she will certainly manage it all, albeit at a slower pace than a team of workers would. They may be more competent in carpentry and woodwork than plumbing, so although the pipes will be connected the unforeseen leaks may not be apparent until months later.
For a future proof and robust build, you need a team who have the combined experience to anticipate future issues and plan ahead.
In software development, unlike physical construction, things that are seemingly complete can be produced very quickly. But without rigorous planning and experience of actual user interaction, it’s often impossible to exactly predict the direction of a project. That’s why some of the most important work a good agency will do will involve tried and tested agile systems for dealing with change as the project evolves.
Speaking of planning: it’s likely that you’ll have a plan for your development well in advance of contacting an agency. This could be as simple as a one-line request, or as complex as a fully formed sitemap. Nevertheless, any good development agency will kick off proceedings with a scoping session.
A scoping session involves questions and answers, from both sides, together with discussions on budget, timescales, and design. A good agency will take the time to understand both your vision and your end goals, and explain to you exactly how they plan to help you get there.
Before you do this, check out the agency and their most recent work. You may not understand everything they do, but look out for good design and usability on their own site, a selection of case studies showing cross-platform expertise, and evidence of specialists on the team to cover all eventualities.
In today’s fast-moving world some things change faster than others. Technology and development, especially web development, move fastest of all and sometimes it’s difficult to keep up with day to day changes and updates, especially outside of your own particular sector.
It’s important to keep abreast of these wider trends, especially if you’re in the process of or about to start a new development project. Check them out, or better still, ask your agency about them. Any software company worth their salt will be able to offer opinions and advise you on long-term trends, important if you’re at the planning stages and definitely still worth considering even if you’re mid-project.
Don’t be afraid of the agency that won’t quote a fixed fee for a project. Experienced agencies know that projects evolve, and will ensure that systems are in place to keep pace with changing directions. This could be because you’re working together to create something brand new, and therefore impossible to estimate, or simply because as the build evolves and testing takes place, the scope can change.
A good web development agency will make sure that you’re aware of these things from the very beginning of the process, and won’t be afraid to bring them to your attention.
There are other reasons that a project timeline can move. You hired the agency to bring an idea to life, but until you start to see it made real, you’re probably not entirely sure of the best way to make it do what you want. Good web development agencies understand and anticipate this, and will encourage you to amend your vision where necessary. Conversely, the better ones will also know exactly when to talk you down if it means the risk of a bloated project which may not meet either of your expectations, but more importantly, those of your end users.