10 Tips For Working With A Web Agency
You've hired an agency or freelancer to build and design your website... but what happens next? You'll probably be spending at least a few weeks if not months in partnership with them... how can you get the best results and forge professional rapport in the early stages? We have spoken to (and worked with) many developers and designers. By following our expert tips you will have a happy, productive relationship.
1. Ask how their day is every now and then!
Although you're working remotely with your new colleagues, personal interaction goes a long way to establishing the kind of professional relationship that lasts years. You might not ever see them face to face, but bringing some humanity to the table costs nothing... and you may even find out you have things in common! You can ask about their weekend plans, share appropriate memes to motivate the mid-week lull, or simply just ask how their day's going.
Manners are free, and they make a world of difference.
Being polite face to face or on the phone is one thing, you can hear and see the person so you're more likely to remember your Ps and Qs... what happens when you're trying to resolve a challenge by email? Do you sign off 'kind regards' or maybe you just use your name? Do you say 'please' before asking them to do that niggly task that has been delaying progress? Manners and consideration help foster respect.
3. Give them a bit of praise!
Being polite and asking how their day went is all well and good, what happens when they have reached a milestone for the project? You may not have the final product polished and ready to use, but they have been working hard to meet your expectations. Sometimes there will have been barriers, that took all their expertise to navigate, that you don't even realise! If you see your dev/ designer is doing well, shoot them an email or message to acknowledge it.
4. Don't be the creep who "scope creeps".
This is probably one of the main bug-bears of freelancers and remote partners. If you're all working in the same space then it's easy to have a conversation about workload, scope and moving the goal posts. The person can push back or give you constructive ideas. Remote partnerships with agency workers tend to get a little strained when half way through a project expectations are changed. If you want extras thrown in, ask them directly and offer to pay for it. The chances are, if you've already followed tips 1 to 3, they will be open to discussion and may even put in a freebie!
5. Patience. Have some.
Technology sometimes does not work exactly like we want it to. So rather than barking at your web dev to "get it done", listen to them. They obviously have more experience in building websites than you do - that's why you hired them! You can ask them to explain in simple terms what the issue is, and work with them to find a solution.
Now that we are over half way through our tips for you, there's a pattern forming. The more you take the time to respect your devs and designers, the more productivity and respect you will gain from them. Remember; this is a partnership, they aren't a piece of machinery or an algorithm, they want to help you do the best for your business... it can be more than a little frustrating having someone firing instructions at you without consideration for your skills, or appreciation of your effort.
7. Don't email them on the weekend or after hours.
This is a tricky one, because in the modern 'work place' many people make their own shifts across 7 days. The rule of thumb should be that you don't contact your agency workers/ freelancers on their down days as they need to relax. Of course, this is slightly different if they have a dedicated work email or message system, and you are 100% sure they only check it during work hours!
Also, if they send you an email out of hours saying they've completed a task, you may be tempted to reply and continue the discussion. In these instances it's best to thank them, and then say you'll discuss the next steps with them on XYZ day that you're back in the office.
8. Don't expect a reply back to your emails immediately.
We've all been an 'inbox watcher' at some point in our career. It's tough not to wonder what someone is planning on writing to you, or if they're treating you as a priority. Remember; you hired your agency workers to build and design your website, not to be constantly replying to your emails. It can be really difficult to concentrate on the task in hand if you're having notifications pop up every hour or so. Don't be offended when you're put on mute - if the issue is really that important, you can use the phone and speak to them!
9. Speaking of emails and communication - be clear and constructive with your feedback.
There's nothing more frustrating to a dev or designer than when a client expresses their displeasure or requests a change... but doesn't include the specifics! These days it's super easy to take a screen shot, record your screen, and share documents. There's no excuse for vague feedback, and it will only hold you back! If you aren't happy with the loading speed, or the placement of products etc. explain exactly what you need to be changed and why.
In the words of one very disgruntled web dev we came into contact with; "if you can't do all the above, then piss off and build your own website!" If this sounds harsh, you can believe us when we say, the end result of being demanding, disrespectful and ignorant is usually being left in limbo with an unfinished job... even the possibility of being blacklisted. We understand that business is hard, it's hard for everyone down the line from the people designing your logos and creating copy all the way through to the CEO and the top board positions. If you have the time to be rude, you have the time to be respectful. it's as simple as that.
We hope that these down-to-earth tips will help you make the most of your web agency relationships! We'll keep our ear to the ground and publish new articles whenever we get more interesting nuggets of information from the people on the front line. Be sure to come back and check our blog for updates!