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How to Hire and Manage a Website Design Agency

By: Dave Howell - Updated: 22 Sep 2010 | comments*Discuss
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At the heart of your new online business is your website. Website design has evolved rapidly since the inception of E-commerce to the point where online business now have sophisticated websites that enable their customers to shop with ease.

A simple E-Commerce website can be built with automated systems provided by many of the ISP’s, or even from scratch using software like the market leading Dreamweaver. It’s more likely, however, that you will need to hire, brief and manage a web designer or a website design agency to build your online business’s website.

Design Brief and Outline

Before you look for and hire a website design agency you need to think carefully about every aspect of your new website. Take some time to plan each section that your new online business will contain, and then break this down into individual web pages. These pages in turn then need their content clearly defining. The more detail you can give your website design agency the easier and faster they can build your website. You can locate a website designer on directories like the British Design Innovation website.

The key when hiring a website design agency is to remove as much ambiguity from your website design brief. If your web design agency can see precisely the amount of work they have to do, this will mean their quote for the work they need to do will be accurate. More importantly, you will get the website you are expecting. Try and make your brief as crystal clear as you can. In the long run this could save you substantial amounts of money.

Managing Your Website Designer

It is important that you closely manage your relationship with your website design agency. This doesn’t mean visiting their offices every day to check on progress, but your contract should have clearly defined deadlines where the project will be evaluated. These meetings are vitally important to spot any areas where your website design is moving away from your brief. This aspect of your website design is important as it allows you to manage your website design budget and have prior notice if you will need to find extra money to complete your business’s website design.

Website Agency Checklist

Use the checklist below to guide your hiring, briefing and management of a website design agency:

Draw up a ShortlistWith so many designers to choose from, look for three that you think may be ideal to build your website. Ask them for samples of their work, and if they have any specific expertise in designing E-commerce websites. Give these website design agencies your brief and let me outline their quote and the timeframe to deliver the first version of your website.

Fees and DeadlinesAs your online business’s website design could go through many versions, it is important to have a clear indication as to the fees that your website design agency will charge. Often, they will give you a quote for your basic website design, with any revisions charged extra. These ‘extra’ payments can easily mount up, so make sure you are clear about the website design agencies fee structure.

Contracts with AgenciesThe contract you have with your website design agency is crucially important to get right. This document should clearly layout every aspect of your relationship with the design agency through each stage of the design process. Contracts can also be service level agreements if you envisage your relationship with the website design agency being on-going.

Management and ReportingEven if you have a very detailed design brief you are handing to the website design agency you have chosen, you must still keep in close contact with the team that will build your website. Ensure you have good communication links with the website design agency and even specific designers if you think this is necessary.

Get Out ClausesClearly it is in both your online business’s and the website design agencies best interests to develop a good working relationship. However, your contract should still clearly define how both parties can dissolve their working relationship if things start to go wrong.

Ownership of Intellectual PropertyThe work that your website design agency will be carrying out will mean they are creating original material that is copyright. It is important to be clear who holds the final copyright of the website and its content once the project has completed. Normally full copyright should be handed to you and your online business, but it may be that some specific elements of your website may be copyright of the website agency you hired. Checked this carefully and take legal advice if you need to.

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