Working with an agency to develop your website is a no-brainer. Many organisations won’t have the resource in-house to produce a high-quality lead generating website, so collaboration is key. That said, you don’t necessarily want to find yourselves tied to one agency.
I am Alex Sayers and I work for XIST2. We’re a digital marketing agency specialising in website design and development and CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system integration. I’ve been with XIST2 for seven years and in that time have seen our agency grow from a couple of us in a home office to a varied and experienced team of nine (plus some trusted associates) in our rural office retreat. Our office is just outside Faringdon and yes we are indeed based in the stereotypical barn conversion but we love it and the views on the drive in are a stunning way to start the day.
XIST2 has worked on a variety of projects over the years and we’re proud to say that we’ve worked with many great local institutions such as Heythrop Park, the University of Oxford and Arkell’s Brewery, as well as well-known global organisations (all under NDA).
Working with an agency on a new website is no small undertaking. The end result will underpin a large proportion of your sales and marketing activity, so getting it right is key. Once upon a time, making a commitment to one agency was a daunting one. Today this is an outdated notion and the idea of agency independence is a positive step.
With that in mind, below I have shared some key things to consider when selecting an agency to ensure your independent future:
CMS – Content Management System
Choosing the right CMS for your organisation will most probably be something that you think about before approaching any agency. There is a lot to consider when selecting a CMS but for us one of the most important is to make sure you’re not tied long-term to one agency. A custom-built system can be appealing, however there is a downside; it ties you to the developers that built it – leaving you tied to that agency for the life of your website.
Using an open source CMS such as WordPress gives you flexibility and access to thousands of developers worldwide. We use WordPress for a number of reasons, including its ease of use, but also so we know that our clients have flexibility in the future.
Training your team will not only allow you to be more cost and time efficient, it will also give you total control of your website from day one. Before we go live with any website, we take our clients through CMS training. This ranges from a marketing assistant who needs to edit copy and images to an in-house web master who will be taking on the administration.
An often-overlooked aspect of a website project is photography. There are two strands to this; stock photography and photography taken specifically for your project. Make sure that you own the rights to use and display the stock images and, if possible, also get copies of the images so you have them on file for future use. With regard to shoot photography, make sure you own the images, not the agency. All IP (intellectual property) should be yours on final payment.
This is something we can’t stress enough; making sure there is a master log-in to both your website and other platforms, such as Google Analytics, makes business sense.
Imagine this scenario – Joe Bloggs worked for you in 2016 and led on your website project. Joe set up the log-ins and was the only person with access to the website and the Google Analytics account was linked to his personal Google account. Skip forward two years and Joe leaves on less than favourable terms. Suddenly you don’t have access to your website and analytics data.
We make sure there are a number of people across the organisation with admin rights, ranging from Super-Admins to Contributors.
Freedom is yours for the taking!
We see these behaviours as best practice in web design and development. In fact, we’re so passionate about it we make sure it’s at the core of what we do. We want to educate both the wider industry and the next generation of digital marketers, web designers and developers about the importance of agency independence. We want the work that agencies do to be about you, the customer, and nothing else.
Giving our clients the ability to be agency-independent makes us work harder and smarter. We build partnerships and become an extension of your in-house team. We know that the work we produce and the relationships we build mean that clients will want to work with us in the future, rather than have to work with us.