These are some topics you can expect to talk to your agency about so you can be better prepared for the conversations you’ll have to help you determine scope and price for your project. And, if the agency you’re talking to isn’t covering these items with you, then you’ll know to hold out for an agency that does!
1. The Big Picture of Your Organization
While at first glance, your website may seem like a project of marketing and/or IT, your website performs many functions on behalf of your organization. Expect to talk briefly to the following about your organization:
- Company size
- Company mission
- Plans for growth
- Marketing and sales team size & budget
- How your website fits into your organization’s ecosystem
We understand that you may be assessed in your role against metrics and success factors related to your website. And, we want to help you out.
Agencies will ask you about your role, the metrics you’re responsible for, and your day-to-day to get a sense of how we can help you, and also determine if you’re a good fit for our style of working. Expect to be asked about:
- Your job title, role
- Day to day responsibilities
- Biggest challenges in your role
- Metrics you’re responsible for
- How the website project affects you
3. Your Top Priorities for the Website
Each unique organization has its own reason for wanting to redesign or rebuild their website. Yes, your website project will build off of your agency’s previous experience, but at the end of the day, you are a super special singular organization and you will have your very own needs for your website. Some common priorities we see include:
- Modern, responsive design
- Improved site architecture
- Flexible design and technology that can be optimized over time and during periods of high growth
- Implementation of more advanced analytics and tracking to help make data-informed decisions
- Better site administrator experience
- Value proposition needs to be front and center
- Stand out among competitors
- Conversion rate optimization, improved marketing and sales functions
- Move from a proprietary CMS to an open source CMS
Feel free to use this list as inspiration as you think about your own needs.
4. Metrics Related to Your Website, Sales, and Marketing
Data plays an important role in benchmarking your current performance and identifying areas for improvement. If you have metrics related to your website’s performance available, it may be a good idea to be prepared to discuss these with your potential agency. Some metrics that provide insight into a site’s performance include:
- Number of Visitors
- Number of Returning Visitors
- Traffic Sources
- Session Length
- Bounce Rate
- Top 10 Most Trafficked Pages
- Google Analytics Goals That You Have Set Up
- Behavior Flows
These metrics can give an agency a sense of how your website is performing in the areas of attracting people to your site, their behavior once they’re on your site, and what parts of your website are doing the heavy lifting. Analytics help to ensure that during the project itself, the best parts of your website can be maintained while a focus on optimization can happen around areas where your current site isn’t performing well.
Your agency will also want to know what you’re not currently tracking that would be useful to track. You may be tracking how many visitors you’re getting monthly, but you’re unsure of how many are actually converting on your content or the path they’re taking to engage with you. Be prepared to talk with your agency about what you want to start measuring so they can discuss with you options for implementing analytics on your new site.
Ultimately, one of the most important roles that your website plays to your organization is support in sales and marketing. Even if you’re not an e-commerce organization, your website performs important marketing and sales functions, including telling the story of your organization, showcasing your brand, and hosting important content. These functions can still be measured using some basic analytics software.
Many organizations when they enter a redesign are also interested in implementing a marketing and sales automation system to increase their lead volume and quality, and ultimately close more deals. If you are looking to your website to improve your marketing and sales, your agency will want to take a closer look at the following metrics:
- % of leads that come in through your website
- Conversion rates on your content
- Your current sales/marketing funnel structure on your website
- Your current customer acquisition cost
- Your customer lifetime value
- Your time to close for your leads
- Top traffic sources
- Quality of the current leads that come in through your website
Looking at data and analytics can help to ensure that the project is geared toward measurable goals that can be evaluated objectively. Data can eliminate the bias of subjective input on the direction of the site, project direction, design and more.
5. Your Technology Needs for Your Website
I know, I know, it seems kind of crazy that we wouldn’t get to the technology until this point. I hope this gives you a sense of how much more your website is than just the technology it’s built with.
Your technology is, however, extremely important to the success of your website. Our engineers would probably want me to say that again: your technology, and the engineers who build your website for you, are extremely important to the success of the website.
It usually makes sense to talk about your goals first, as the technology will serve to support those goals and make them happen. Having a sense of your goals will give your agency a sense of the technology that will work best for your specific goals.
When evaluating your technology options, you should consider the following questions:
- How important is flexibility to my site? Do I plan on making updates and changes to it on an going basis? Do we anticipate that our website needs will change over time?
- How important is SEO? Are we looking to increase our site traffic, and automate best practices to make that happen?
- How important is security? What would happen if we get breached?
- How important is search? Do we need a robust search feature so people can find content on our site easily?
- How important is content taxonomy?
- How important is site speed and performance? Can we afford to lose potential visitors due to loading and performance issues?
- How much customization is needed? How much will I be relying on developers to build custom solutions?
These questions will help your agency make a recommendation on what CMS option to use along with your hosting needs. We find that most clients we work with are better off using an open source CMS such as Drupal or WordPress to meet their needs.
6. What Success Looks Like – and, Gulp, Failure!
This exercise asks you to predict the future. Don’t worry, you don’t need to have any supernatural abilities –a little bit of data and some (reasonable) assumptions will help you get there.
There are many reasons why a project can get delayed. So it’s crucial to understand before going into a project: what will happen if you don’t get this website project done? If you’ll lose revenue, if you won’t meet objectives you set for the year, then that helps focus you and your team around the importance of getting your new website in place.
We also want to know what success looks like for you. You may know you want to increase your lead count – but by how much? How much progress do you expect to make toward your goals?
Sometimes people also only think about the short-term successes and wins, but take some time to consider the bigger picture. What will the website look like in 6 months? A year? 2 years? You may realize you have expectations about your website’s performance over time that you didn’t take into account when outlining your initial goals.
Also, it helps us know how we can delight you with your new website. It removes the possibility that there could be a gap in your expectations versus ours.
7. The Project Process
You may be thinking about your website, but are you thinking about all that will happen in between the project start date and the launch of your website? The project process is vital to the success of the project.
There are also some factors about the process that will affect the cost and timing of your website project, so your agency will want to uncover those before providing you with a quote. For example, if you require multiple stakeholders to sign off on each step of the project, that may increase the scope or push back the timing of your project delivery.
Many agencies also have a project management method and they’ll want to evaluate if their project process is a good fit with your organization. We use Agile/Scrum and have had success with many different types of clients across industries, but we still take the time to make sure the team we’re engaging with will be a good fit for that type of project management.
For process, be prepared to talk about:
- The number of decision makers on your team
- Your availability to contribute content to the project
8. We’ll Have Done Our Research
Each organization is unique, and therefore each website is unique. Before engaging with you, we’ll have done some research to make sure there is a good fit. If we’re on the phone with you, it’s because we’ve determined that you are a good fit for our agency and that we believe our skills are a good match for your needs.
That being said, we’re still going to look to you to provide your understanding of your website goals. While assumptions can help move things forward more quickly, they can also cause us to miss important information about what you expect from your website. So, while we have our own ideas, we’re going to wait for you to share yours before we start injecting our own thinking.
Closing Thoughts on What to Expect When You Work with a Website Agency
This list may seem daunting, but rest assured that you won’t need to have answers to everything on this list or even half of it. Sure, the more you know, the closer your agency can get to delivering a website for you that meets your needs. But, some of this stuff we can determine through discovery calls and sessions and more conversations. Also, on the flip side, if you’re overly set on how you want your website to look or function, you may miss out on some ideas that your agency can bring to the table given a little leeway.
Ultimately, your best bet is to go into your website project excited by what can be accomplished, rather than worrying about what could go wrong. Your agency will bring experience to the table to help you through the website process, and take you from a client-agency relationship to a partnership.