How to tell if a web agency can handle your major website project.
For large organizations with influential brand reputations to protect, deciding who to choose to helm their next major website overhaul can be a nerve-wracking process. If the website is particularly complex, with a vast backlog of content, an involved ecommerce system, or a large membership community, then they face even more complications in finding the right web agency for the job.
However, many large businesses make a similar mistake when faced with this situation: they assume their large website requires a large agency to handle it effectively. In doing so, they not only overlook many highly-qualified agencies, they may even wind up with a website that fails to live up to their expectations—let alone their needs.
So, before you set your sights on a big web company with lots of staff but limited expertise, here are four reasons you should consider a boutique design agency instead.
1. Capabilities matter more than size.
Sometimes bigger companies mean a deeper talent pool and a wider range of specializations. And… sometimes they don’t. A large company can just as easily mean more staff devoted to standard production tasks, a greater management overhead, or services and specializations that have nothing to do with your business.
Think about it: a big company is one that has scaled up to meet increasing work demands. Economies of scale usually function by streamlining production output. They can handle large quantities of that one thing, and the quality of that one thing may be very high. But they aren’t necessarily equipped to handle custom projects.
Instead of looking at size, focus on capabilities. If you’re considering a small web agency, look at what they can do.
An agency that can handle your project will have the work history to back it up. If a company can’t show you case studies of similar projects that they completed successfully, then they aren’t the best choice for your business no matter how big their company may be.
2. Smaller companies are more agile, which allows them to better adapt to your needs.
Capability isn’t the only factor, of course. A large web company may have the qualifications and still be overkill for the project you want. It would be like using a sledge hammer to hang a picture—more work with less effective results.
Furthermore, large companies, like sledge hammers, tend to be unwieldy. They have systems in place for handling their projects. And while these processes have their place, they can also slow you down or leave you with something that works, but isn’t what you wanted.
Again, the danger with a large agency is that they’ll make your project conform to their way of doing things—whether or not it’s what’s best for your website. On the other hand, smaller companies are more adaptable. They have the flexibility to work with you to craft a website that puts your needs first. And they’re often better at doing this than large websites because, contrary to what you might expect, this is where they’ve built the most experience.
3. A small agency means more members of the team are exposed to a broader variety of experiences.
Larger web agencies often try to streamline their processes by specializing team members. One group focuses on their manufacturing segment, another on ecommerce, and a third on non-profits. Because these clients bear some similarities, those team members can lock in on that specific project type, which can lead to some gains in efficiency.
But these gains come at a cost—lack of diversification. Both web design and digital marketing are industries where variety is an asset. When you’re exposed to more markets, more industries, and more customer types, it keeps you from falling into a one-solution-fits-all rut. You can’t roll out the same answer to every problem—you have to focus on your client, and account for all the nuances of their situation.
This is where a broad experience becomes so valuable. If your background is working with non-profits, but now they want to add a complicated ecommerce platform to their site, then your solution will be limited by your range of experiences.
Smaller agencies don’t need to break down silos because they’ve never built them to begin with. Their team members work closely together on most projects, and that means better communication and more synergy.
4. A smaller company means fewer degrees of separation between team members.
Speaking of communication, the larger the team, the more of it has to happen before a project can move forward. Pretty soon, it’s like playing a game of telephone: your requests get lost in the shuffle, and even when they do go through, the results may not be what you intended.
Of course, the same can happen on your end, too. That’s why we recommend assign a primary point of contact between their group and ours. We also use our kickoff meeting to introduce all our members to your team, so that you know who specializes in what part of your project.
The point is, when you’re working with a smaller agency, you’ll quickly notice how efficient communication becomes. There’s simply less red tape to get in the way.
Big results don’t require big companies.
The greatest mistake large organizations fall into is believing that their large, complex website requires a large, complex team to manage. However, throwing more people and resources at a project won’t necessarily get you what you want. In fact, it may even work against you.
Results are what matter. And with a core group of people who know what they’re doing and can deliver effectively on a project, you can achieve amazing results with a small agency without having to deal with the overhead expenses and communication pitfalls of a large one.
So don’t limit your options by discounting the tight, dynamic agencies that can deliver the website you really want. After all, you can’t get bespoke quality from a store specializing in mass production.