Thoughts and Ideas

Web Design vs Digital Agency: which is right for you?

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You need a new website and a partner to make it for you. The chances are you'll have some design companies on your radar and trusted contacts recommending even more. If not, you'll open up Google and search for local web designers or web development companies. If you go down these routes, you might be making a big mistake in finding the right partner for your business.

Your current situation

It might be that your business has grown but your web design company hasn't. You need more support, skills and functions than they can provide but you're not sure what you need.

Or it could be your current site does not convert and nobody can tell you why. Your PPC and/or SEO company are pointing at your web designers and they're pointing right back. You're probably pulling your hair out and asking yourself “Why can't people just work together to achieve what I want?!”

Your current situation

Perhaps nobody has the responsibility to drive your website forward. Whether this is an internal team or employee, an external partner, or combination, you need to find someone who can step up and tell you what works and what doesn't when it comes to making digital work for your business.

Whatever the reason, the right partner is out there for you.

Ask yourself...

Do I want a new website or a digital ecosystem full of opportunity?

Presuming ROI and website conversion is something on your agenda, a digital ecosystem is the right answer. A newly designed website is only part of the puzzle and the formula to a successful website definitely does not stop at design. A digital agency is the right choice for you.

If you are kicking off your digital presence for the first time, have a very limited budget, or digital conversions and brand awareness is not a priority for your business, a web design partner could be who you are looking for.

The differences in services you should expect

Not every web developer and digital agency is the same, of course, but we at Bigger Picture keep a close eye on our industry and we've seen a few patterns emerging...

Web design companies

A web design company gets a brief and fulfils it, normally by designing, developing and launching a new website.

Web Design Companies

They'll use their creativity and web development skills, but won't dig too deep into understanding the brand they are designing for, or more importantly, their audience. Once the website is done, that's the project complete and handed over to the client (or their marketing team). Other than site improvements and maintenance requested by a client, the success of that website is either in the hands of a marketing agency or you.

As a web design company is more focused on delivering a project to your brief, rather than what will actually work for your business and your audience, you'll tend to find they jump into a web design process at a very early stage. They will probably only ask you for a few things before designing your site like:

  • What are your pages?
  • Do you have all the content?
  • What functionality do you need?
  • Can you supply images and other media?

This process might be less daunting for smaller businesses who have limited desires for project input, but doesn't your business deserve better?

The advantages of a web design company

  • Cost effective for smaller businesses
  • You'll get what you ask for without question
  • Easy to find someone local to you
  • They offer a small business service to small businesses

The disadvantages of a web design company

  • Design or development-focused, not both
  • Often out-source parts (or all) of project
  • They don't keep up-to-date with latest design and tech advancements
  • Skill gaps are covered with generic themes and templates
  • They don't put the time in to really understand what your needs are
  • You're the one responsible for your website success

Digital Agencies

A digital agency develops a brief, gets under the hood of the brand they are working for, and ultimately delivers a website to engage and convert the right audience, maximising the conversion opportunity and your ROI.

Digital Companies

The skillset of a creative digital agency goes beyond web design and development. It puts strategies in place for marketing, CRM implementation, automation, and much more. Projects are managed by skilfully equipped people who specialise in their own areas. As standard, every digital project is made up of a team including:

A Project Manager who will make sure your project runs smoothly. They'll know each stage of your project like the back of their hand, and they'll be able to keep you up-to-date with its progress at any time.

A Digital Strategist who will be responsible for putting the right solution and strategy in place, recommending things you never knew existed.

A Creative Lead who will own the design and produce engaging, powerful design solutions with the user experience in mind.

A Design Team of in-house animators, illustrators and photographers who will be on hand to contribute to project success and add special touches.

At least one Front-end Developer who will work with the design team, creative lead and digital strategist to bring the project to life and make sure it works everywhere it should.

At least one Back-end Developer who will be in charge of stuff like CMS functions, 3rd party applications and hosting configuration, making sure your site or application runs smoothly.

A better understanding for better design

Unlike web design companies, digital agencies tend to have at least two stages before jumping into design. Rather than asking a few questions, they'll hold in-depth workshops and carry out existing digital footprint analysis. This is a screenshot of an agenda from one of our recent CANVAS workshops:

CANVAS

The outcome? An in-depth brief and complete understanding of your business goals.

THIS INFORMATION + THE RIGHT DIGITAL TEAM = MET OBJECTIVES

The advantages of a digital agency

  • Maximum ROI delivery
  • They can tell you what works and what doesn't
  • You'll build a long-term partner with the skills to grow your business
  • They'll take responsibility for your web or apps success
  • They can adapt to work in a way that suits you
  • Innovative solutions that last the test of time

The disadvantages of a digital agency

  • Lengthier processes, often with a higher price tag
  • Most effective at delivering projects for SMEs and above, not start-ups
  • Tighter scopes of work and less likely to go beyond without additional costs

So, who is right for you?

If you have got this far, you are probably expecting us to say a digital agency, but in reality it all depends on you and what you need.

There are plenty of great web design companies out there - like most digital agencies, we used to be one - and they provide cost-effective web solutions for the right types of customers. However, if you're looking to build something bigger, better and more effective at driving conversions, a digital agency is the way to go.