Working with an external agency is challenging. You don’t have direct visibility and control over who is doing what. In addition, you don’t know the people that will be doing the work that well. As a result, many times you realize something is wrong when the project is complete and it is too late to make a change.

Below are some indicators that you can use to predict whether your agency will manage to deliver good results. They can be used either when you are evaluating a new agency or when you want to make sure your current agency is doing a good job.

1. No clear definition of success

The only way to determine if a project was successful is to measure if it achieved its goals. However, without clear goals for your website design/redesign you might be celebrating for the wrong reasons. The goals should be defined at the beginning of the project and agreed on by all stakeholders. Each goal should be clear, specific, achievable and have a definite timeline. Here are a few examples:

  • Reduce the homepage bounce rate by 15% within the first 3-4 months after the website is launched
  • Increase monthly online inquiries by 10% within the first 6 months after the website is launched

Some of you might wonder why there is a timeline for achieving the improvements. This is needed as it is almost impossible to launch a perfect website which achieves its goals immediately. That’s why your website should become a ground for experimentation and optimization where you gradually push it towards the desired performance.

2. No clearly defined and documented strategy

A website strategy is used to align all stakeholders around the goals and the audience your website should serve. If you fail to create a solid strategy, the end result will be a website that doesn’t look and perform the way you expected it to.

A website strategy is something that both you and your agency should have equal input on - you as a business owner and your agency as an expert in their domain. A good strategy will make sure the following areas are clearly defined:

  • Goals
  • Target audience (Personas)
  • Site architecture
  • Website features and functionality
  • Post launch activities

In addition, as people from multiple departments, like UX, design, marketing, and development will be working on your website, it is crucial that the strategy is well documented and always accessible from all members of the team.

3. Your conversion rates are flat for more than 3 months after launch

We already touched on that in point 1, but you can never launch a perfect website. However, you can make sure it gradually reaches peak performance through a strict and data-driven process of optimization.That’s why it’s very important for your agency to have a good process for gathering and analyzing data.

Here are a few processes that your web agency should be using already:

Heatmap and click analysis - used for gathering qualitative data by monitoring user behavior on your website
User testing - detailed recordings with real visitors where you document the obstacles they face as they browse your website
Single-questions website polls - One of the fastest ways to ask for visitor feedback while they are browsing your website

4. Not enough transparency

Not getting frequent updates from your agency, either means they don’t have good internal processes or that they are not working when they should be.

Weekly live updates are crucial to keeping clients up to date with the progress of the project and getting their timely feedback and approval on the direction of the design.

Another good way for your agency to keep you up to date is giving you access to their project management system so you can see in detail how they are progressing with all the tasks.

5. No website tracking and analytics framework

Having goals and measuring whether you are meeting them is key to understanding if your website is successful. That’s why the installation of analytical tools that help you gather data about visitors and website performance is a mandatory part of launching your new website.
Tools, like Google Analytics and Hotjar should be a must in your agency’s toolbox.

Conclusion

These are some of the most telling signs when it comes to evaluating your agency’s potential to deliver on their promise. All of them can be checked during the initial phases of agency shortlisting as well as when you have to decide whether to renew your partnership with your current agency.

We would be very interested to hear from you what are some other signs you have noticed in agencies that didn’t live up to your expectations.