8 Steps in Choosing a Panama City Web Design Agency

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We recently were guest writer for the Business Innovation Center in Panama City. You can read our article: Why Every Small Business Must Have a Website in 2016  here (link).

We wanted to add to this article by offering some tips on what to look for when choosing a website designer and developer. Below you will find 8 steps you should consider when looking for an agency.


Following these steps will not only make your choosing of an agency easier, it will vastly help the process in crafting your web solution needs and requirements. And of course connect you with a solid agency.

 

Step 1: Know Your Need

Often times a client comes to us and they want or need a website. But our first question to them is what does your site need?

For example, if you are new company your site may be more of a general information site.  What does your company do, how does someone contact you, etc. It will be very clearly brand awareness focused.  If your website is e-commerce focused, you will want to turn your attention to return-on-investment (ROI), converting sales, and building and maintaining your customer base.

What to do:

Ask the agency to show proof of how they have approached clients in the past with similar goals and how they approached them. Seeing these can help you determine if the agency can accomplish what is required for your business.

 

Step 2: Know Your Budget

Ah, the elephant in the room. We place this towards the top of the list for a good reason. Budget will highly dictate what is a realistic approach to your goals. A great agency can work around a budget for a possible solution. However, do keep in mind the phrase “you get what you pay for” is a resounding response we have heard a number of times from clients.

But how do you determine this budget? The process is actually very simple. Do your research as you would with any marketing purchase. Look at the average costs of creating a website. Talk to fellow business owners about their costs. Compare this to your current marketing budget and see what the company can afford. Do keep in mind a strong honest agency will only offer what is really needed for your business to succeed based on your goals.

What to do:

Go into your consultation with the agency with a budget in mind, but also don’t be surprised or concerned by sticker shock. Ask the agency how they see your return on investment working and how their solution fits into the plan. Overall if you complete your research on your current marketing you will possibly see other areas that have not been effective. You can move some of the budget into digital and inbound marketing.

 

Step 3: Know the Track Record

With the growth of digital marketing, there are a number of fly by night agencies and so called garage workers that will surface. Just as you would ask for references, licenses, insurance with a roofer, electrician etc.; ask the same of the agency.

A solid agency can easily point you to these documents and references should be very easy to come by. If these cannot be produced in a swift manner, that should raise a red flag rather quickly. Also be sure to ask around to friends and other business owners that have done business with the agency. Sometimes the most honest reviews are not from the agency directly.

What to do:

This one is rather simple. Ask questions. An agency should produce answers, documents and case studies measured metrics to you rather quickly.

 

Step 4: Educate Yourself

One of the biggest phrases we hear when a new client comes to us is “I don’t understand this web stuff, that’s why I am here.” As an agency we are flattered that you are looking to trust us this much. However, a lot of times we have to educate clients just to set the expectations. Don’t get us wrong, we love to share our knowledge but other agencies are not. Having a basic understanding of mobile responsive design, Wordpress developmentdigital advertising and social media management will vastly help you understand if the agency you are talking to is a professional and you are not blindsided by just a good salesman.

What to do:

Study. We wouldn’t ask you to know everything like an agency would. Leave that to them. Learn enough to be able to talk about it. Read some blogs, download some ebooks, watch some YouTube Videos. Spending a couple of hours reading can vastly help you understand enough to be dangerous in your consultation.

 

Step 5: Start Gathering Content

The item that will most delay your website development process is the creating / gathering enough content to fill your site to a comprehensive level.  You want it where people can feel comfortable knowing you are an authority on the type of business you are in.

Often, more than not, this will stall your website development process. Realistically content is the biggest hitch in development. A good agency will offer to help write your content or take existing marketing collateral and help you “refresh” it for the web.

What to do:

Start with current marketing collateral. Gather as much as you can for a starting point. Content is everything when it comes to your website. So gather everything you can: text, images and even videos to help speed the process up when you finally start. 

 

Step 6: Know what you want to achieve

We have already spoke on your needs, but now think of some specific goals of your new website.

  • • Is it for lead generation?
  • • Sell a product?
  • • Are you building the next gamer forum?
  • • Improve brand awareness?

A good agency will ask you these goals when beginning your website design. If they know what they are doing, the site design will be tailored around these goals. Designing a site in a vacuum is never a good a idea and results are never to your liking.

What to do:

Dig deep into your answer from Step 1. Having a solid understanding of what you want the site to achieve will vastly save time in the process of getting your company online.

 

Step 7: Ask For Strategy Advice

A good agency will be more interested in your website as a marketing tool verses the only item they are trying to sell you. If the agency does not talk past the site launch you may be talking to the wrong one. A strong agency will want to talk about Search Engine OptimizationSearch Engine Marketing, Inbound Marketing and Social Media to name a few. If the agency does not want to talk past the site, move on. 9 times out of 10 they will not be a good partner for your digital marketing.

What to do:

Ask the agency to explain their process past the website design. Ask how they will fit their process to your budget and a timeline for these suggestions. 

 

Step 8: Maintain Quality

Your site is built, now what? Getting your business online is only the beginning of a successful digital campaign. Now you have to work at maintaining a good quality site. Ask the agency how they track metrics. A good agency will assist you in your analytic reporting and ensure that your website is helping you reach your goals.

What to do:

Ask the web agency about their existing ongoing relationships. How are they helping them? What hurdles have they faced and how did they solve them. Do they have ongoing service, maintenance and marketing plans?

 


CONCLUSION:

There you have it. Our list of 8 Steps for finding a Web Designer in Panama City.  If you follow these steps we can almost guarantee an easier process of beginning your web journey, but also help you choose your agency partner.

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