So, you’re finally about to start working on your project. It must be exciting to think about what your future website or your new business cards will look like.
Before you submerge entirely in these beautiful thoughts, there are some things you need to know when it comes to hiring a design agency.
Without further ado, here are some of our thoughts.
1. Outline Your Needs and Ideas
This is one of the first things you should do before hiring a design agency. You can’t expect great results if you don’t clarify what you want.
The more information you have, the better, not just because the design agency should know as much about what you want as possible but also because not all designers have enough experience to build complex solutions. Of course, if you choose one of the top design agencies in New York, you don’t have to worry about that.
So, think of the functionalities you want to include: do you want an eCommerce store, or do you want to have social media and email integrations? Are you interested in having a custom layout? Once you get the idea, you will easily discuss it with the designer agency you hire.
2. Come Up With an Availability Plan
Before you start thinking about the project’s deadline, you must know how much time you’re willing to spend communicating with the design agency. Reviews, approvals, content gathering, and meetings will take up some of your team’s time.
Remember that you decide how much liberty the design agency can take during the design process.
You can let them handle most of the project management independently and reduce the time required on your end. If you’re not comfortable with that, you can request more frequent outputs from the agency, but it will cost you some additional time.
3. Know Your Deadline and Budget
Once you have a clear project outline, it’s time to come up with a deadline and budget. It’s key to be realistic here: you can’t expect complex solutions to be handled in just a few weeks, especially if you’re not ready to invest a lot of money.
We know negotiation is everyone’s favorite part of the process. But, if you’re upfront about how much you’re willing to spend, the agency can suggest the services that best fit your needs.
So, if you want to redesign your brand entirely, think about the work that goes into doing everything from scratch and allow for a budget that reflects it.
4. Know What Their Design Process Looks Like
Knowing what the design process looks like is vital if you want to get a timeline for major deliverables and be able to plan your own availability for reviews and approvals.
Most companies nowadays work with agile methodologies. Agile methodologies allow teams to adapt to a project as it progresses without waiting for the end to make the necessary changes. You can expect short phases of work with frequent testing, reassessment, and adaptation throughout.
Agile methodologies are great if your project is liable to change or you’re unsure what the solution will look like. The design agency will be able to work quickly and keep you in the loop if you want to be more involved.
5. Look at Their Previous Work
The agency’s previous work can tell you quite a bit about what you can expect. Here are some tips:
- Check how many projects they already have behind them. This will tell you more about their experience.
- Ask them if they’ve worked with businesses of your size and if they have experience building websites with similar technical requirements.
- Compare the before and after pictures of their previous projects. This will tell you if they’re adaptable.
- Do they have custom designs or only templates you can work with?
- Pay attention to their process – are they transparent from start to finish?
Answering these questions can give you a solid idea of how they work and allow you to choose the best design agency for your project.
6. Find Out What Services Are Included
People often assume they’re on the same page, and everyone thinks just like them, but that’s not always the case.
For instance, imagine hiring an illustrator for a marketing campaign. You expect them to deliver the work in a vector file, while the illustrator may assume you want a real-life painting instead of a digital one.
Resolving this situation can result in additional expenses – you’ll need to pay the photographer to shoot the painting and format it to fit the correct dimensions.
This is just one example of misunderstandings and dissatisfaction that may arise if you don’t ask for a detailed description of the agency’s services.
7. Know Where the Images and Fonts Are From
The most common issues that may arise are image and font copyright infringement.
Fonts are software, so you need to pay licensing fees to use them. You can’t just set up a font without making sure you can use it commercially. The same rules apply to images – don’t just use Google search to find a photo you like. Even if you’re using stock images, you should ensure they’re licensed for your particular usage.
You want to know if:
- All images and fonts the agency used in the project are licensed
- You are licensed to use the images and fonts separately or solely as the completed project
- There are other restrictions on the license
We recommend always reading the company’s End-User License Agreement (EULA) to ensure you have the correct license for your purposes.
8. Meet the Team
When you first start communicating with a design agency, you’re probably going to meet with its most senior staff. But they’re not the only ones who will be working on your project – juniors and even interns are nearly always in charge of some elements.
This doesn’t mean they won’t do a good job, but knowing how many people will be at your disposal and how many of them are less experienced is good.
You don’t want to work with an agency that spreads itself thin. If they’re working on too many projects simultaneously, you can expect delays and missed deadlines.
Furthermore, don’t forget to ask if they have a copywriter on their team. Copywriting, editing, and proofreading should be part of the process for everything your company produces if you want to ensure quality.
You don’t want just anyone designing your communication materials, so why would you settle for an amateur writing them?
9. Find Out What Happens if You Need to Cancel the Project
Nobody likes to think their project could be canceled before they even start, but it’s imperative to think about these things way ahead. Maybe the project you started working on becomes obsolete. Or, perhaps, you decide to cancel it because you’re not getting the expected level of service or quality.
Because of that, you should understand and outline what happens if you or the design agency cancel the project. Some agencies only charge a “kill fee” to end a project before completion, while others bill for the entire project.
You want to discuss this with an attorney that has extensive experience working with companies like yours.
We hope these tips will help you find the right design agency and that you’ll be pleased with their work. Don’t be afraid to ask them questions – that’s the only way you’ll be satisfied with the results!