January 12 2024

Considerations When Selecting a Website Redesign Agency

selecting website redesign agencyA website redesign is a large endeavor for any company or institution, and it starts by picking an agency to help make your digital dreams a reality. Your process should begin by identifying what you want out of your new site, what problems you are looking to solve, what internal resources will be helping on the project, and what future considerations you should be mindful of. Picking the right agency for your project is critical because you want to make sure that they share the same vision as you and are true partners during the process. Explore some key factors when selecting a digital agency for your next website redesign.

You should have it all: picking a full-service agency

There are plenty of freelancers out there who would be more than happy to take your money, but most don’t have the comprehensive skillset to fully execute all of your needs. When picking a redesign agency, you will want to understand what combination of services that agency has in-house – without outsourcing. At the minimum, you’ll need an agency that can offer strategy and UX guidance, responsive design experience, custom development capabilities, ideally including some pre-built tools to save money, a deep understanding of ADA conformance guidelines, SEO expertise, copywriting, QA and project management. Each of these services is just as important as the other in delivering an end-product that meets today’s digital standards.

Starting the foundation: getting outside strategic guidance

A great agency will ask you a lot of in-depth questions from the very beginning. They will want to look at everything you can give them – current and target audience data, pain points, site analytics, competitors, marketing plans and more. Understanding limitations and goals will help lay the foundation for a custom strategy. Sure, a website should be modern and beautiful, but beyond that, every single element on the site should directly tie into a business or user goal. Websites that are just pretty don’t work as hard as they should and frankly, are a waste of your money. This is why it’s important to look for an agency that has experience delivering against goals – and the data to back it up.

Technology considerations: get help picking the right CMS

Choosing your content management system (CMS) is an important decision in a website redesign. Are you happy with your current CMS and adamant about using it for the next redesign? Are you looking for an open-source CMS to save money and leverage third-party pre-built tools? Are you looking for a licensed CMS that has a development team to support it and documented roadmap? Have you done your research into past CMS security vulnerabilities? Each of these is an important consideration, and an experienced agency should help guide your key decision makers towards the selection of the right CMS for your next website redesign.

Easier site management: leveraging pre-built CMS tools

Most companies and institutions require a highly customized site build, but many agencies, especially those who specialize in a specific industry, have some pre-built tools which allow you to easily manage specific content types without the financial investment of starting from scratch. For example, if you are a financial institution, you undoubtedly will require a locations management tool, rates management tool, FAQ tool and maybe even an events management tool. Developing requirements around those to custom build them from scratch can be arduous and expensive. Ask your agency what tools are available that may entirely meet your needs and save a little money too.

Communicating effectively: who is writing your website content?

Copywriting for the web is a very specific specialty. An experienced web copywriter will have experience writing copy against an approved design, will understand SEO best practices, and will be able to communicate messages in a way that digital users expect. People don’t enjoy reading long, boring paragraphs of text. Instead, they expect to be able to read copy in a digestible manner. An experienced web copywriter will be able to distill information from source content into a format that is easy-to-skim, helpful and importantly, focused on conversion. Additionally, some agencies can offer educational articles and infographics that you can buy to supplement your blog. Even if you have in-house copywriting expertise, taking on writing copy for a full website in addition to that person’s day job can be daunting and may compromise the project’s timeline.

Creating a website for everyone - no matter their disability

While website ADA conformance isn’t yet the law, the thousands of lawsuits every year should be incentive enough to build a site against current ADA guidelines (WCAG 2.2 as of the publish date of this article). Legal threats aside, it’s simply the right thing to do to make a site that is inclusive to all audiences. Whether they are blind, have mobility issues, are dyslexic, or have a myriad of other issues that make their website experience challenging or sometimes impossible, they are just as valuable of an audience for you to cater to, and as a result, they will have a positive brand impression. When picking an agency, you will need to make sure they have experience both designing and building sites that are ADA conformant. Ideally, the agency should also offer ongoing testing services after launch to keep you from making mistakes that could cause conformance issues.

Why search matters: creating a website that can attract audiences

Search engine optimization (SEO) is important for nearly every business, organization, or institution. You will want to make sure your site is strategized and built so that you can organically attract the right audiences through the searches they are doing every day. A well-optimized site can support business goals, and as a bonus, some SEO best practices align with ADA best practices. In addition, because the organic search market is so competitive, most companies will need to invest in paid search campaigns (aka Pay Per Click advertising). An agency that has experience in both SEO and PPC is very appealing because you can trust that your site will launch following all best practices and will be well positioned to support conversion from strategic paid advertising campaigns.

Deciding where to host: where you host matters

One of the things you should be thinking about when planning a website design is where the site will be hosted. If you have a proprietary CMS for example, and will be moving away from it, you will need to find a new host. If you host internally but you’re not positive you want to continue with this large responsibility, then you will need to start to identify what your hosting and security requirements are. There are many decisions to make along the way. Do you want shared or dedicated hosting? Do you need a staging server or load balancing? Does your site need encryption? What additional security features should you have to protect yourself from DDOS attacks, screen scraping, and more? Often there are different internal stakeholders who want to weigh in on hosting matters, so be sure to engage them early on, and bring this up with your agency so they can discuss options they can offer. Hosting is not something to be thrifty about. A poor hosting environment can result in your site being slow, inaccessible, or even hacked.

Budget transparency: know your budget range and allocation

When creating a budget for a website redesign, it’s important to understand what budget line item a website gets attributed to. Is it a marketing or technology expense – or both? Often the website design and development project is a marketing expense, but website hosting is a technology line item. It is important to know this this before looking for an agency so that you can understand what you are working with, and you can find an agency that is at that desired price point. It’s not awkward at all to bring this up early on. Any agency will feel more comfortable guiding you if they know what budget range you’re working with, and it will save you from going down a path with agency you simply can’t afford.

Like who you pick: finding an agency you vibe with

While you’re not marrying your agency, you will be spending many months working closely with them to bring your vision to life. Finding a good personality fit should not be overlooked. Do you feel that the agency is truly listening to you? Do you enjoy the calls and meetings you have with them? Do you trust them? Do you feel comfortable being honest with them? The right agency should make you want to write a testimonial while you’re working with them and should make you want to continue working with them long after the site launches.

Planning your next redesign: big but important decisions

Redesigning your website is a large, resource-intensive project, so your decision about which agency to pick is a big one. Make sure you interview a few agencies, determine the criterion your team is using to select the right agency, and that you are truly excited to embark on the project with the agency you pick. If you want to talk about your next website redesign, reach out to a ZAG Interactive representative to make the first move.

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posted by
Michelle Brown
Michelle Brown
VP of Sales & Marketing

ZAG Interactive is a full-service digital agency in Glastonbury, CT, offering website design, development, marketing and digital strategy to clients nationwide. See current job openings.