How do you really distinguish between the good and the bad web support agencies out there?
Which ones will leave you wishing you’d never signed the contract and running for the hills... What were the warning signs you missed?
When the process of finding a website support agency lands on your lap, the alarm bells start to ring in your head.
It’s like choosing a new takeaway - you don’t want to waste your money and you want something that will suit everyone.
But unlike scrolling through Just Eat, the fatality of going wrong can be avoided if you take the right steps into doing your research & asking the right questions.
We’ve spoken to experts from our team about the do’s and don’ts of finding a support agency for your website, so you’ll know what to ask and the signs to look out for when doing your research.
The fatality of going wrong will last more than 24 hours of regret. You're stuck with it for the length of your contract.
Before you begin enquiring...
Step one before you even start Googling the different agencies out there is making sure you know exactly what you’re looking for.
You don’t just open the Just Eat app without having an idea of what you’re actually after tonight - right?
Having an idea in mind before going all-guns-blazing will help you map out your specific needs, which you can later present to the agencies you want to enquire with.
Are you an eCommerce looking to have a secure website with sensitive customer data to protect?
Do you need to be able to rely on your website to be running smoothly during busier traffic periods?
Have you recently had a new website built, but don’t have the internal resources to maintain it?
Whatever your situation, it’s worth being aware of what you’re looking for and what exactly the support agency will be helping you with.
The next step to this is not only being sure of what you’re looking for right now, but also within the next few months!
You want to know they can help you achieve your end goal. A plan of what you’re looking for over the next 12 months is something agencies might ask you, so make sure you’ve got an idea of what this looks like too!
Now you’re sure of what you’re looking for, you can look for the right fit to your puzzle.
What questions you should be asking
After putting together your own plan of action, you need to contact the agencies and tell them what you're looking for.
It’s then, you can start to separate the good from the bad.
The agency should take some time to do their research on your brand and understand what you stand for before any negotiations take place. This shows their interest in being a supportive arm to your team. It wouldn’t be the best of starts if an agency wasn’t familiar with your work or took time to understand your brand and goals.
If you’ve given them the right information to come up with an outline plan, then that's what they should, in theory, be proactively doing.
You want to share the same passion and work alongside a team that aims to help you achieve your goals.
The more nitty-gritty of specific questions we recently covered in another blog, finding the right website agency: the questions you should be asking, with a question template you can have sent straight to your inbox!
Recently, I spoke to our Managing Director, Mike, about some specific topics that are important to make sure you look for in the process of meeting with your chosen agencies:
One of his biggest pieces of advice was making sure you have a clear understanding of what they use to track the issues you raise. If your site is showing a recurring 500 error page when you go to edit, for example, this is going to get in the way of your workflow and ultimately affect productivity.
You want a clear understanding of who to raise your problems with, how they can be escalated and the alertness of staff towards the block in your workflow.
This will show how well equipped the agency is with handling issues that arise and cracks may begin to show if they struggle to give you an adequate answer.
Doing your research.
We’ve all been in situations where we’ve had to ‘wing it’ through a conversation to look like we know what we’re doing…
There’s no room for ‘winging it’ when you’re investing into handing over the reins of your website.
Making sure you’ve got the evidence to support what the agency is telling you is important to securing yourself a deal with a trustworthy agency.
A good way of assuring your team that you’re working with a credible agency is to check certifications they may hold. At Ixis for example, we recently had success for two members of our team - Andy and Paul - who passed their Drupal Grandmaster certification.
To our clients, this shows we have the best and most up to date knowledge in house when working on their Drupal hosted sites.
Following this, it’s important to make sure that they have a variety of skillsets in their team. If you put your faith in a team that can only show work with one specific platform, it isn’t the best start.
A place you can look for this variety is usually within their blogs and case studies featured on their site. Details of previous projects they’ve conducted will be supportive evidence to your decision.
It’s also important to make sure that they have business credentials such as ITIL. These are yearly reviewed certificates that assure to clients their data is worked with sensitively.
These are things to consider when trying to wade through the agencies out there and finalise your options to then go on to enquire with.
Making sure you're sure of what you're looking for is really important when it comes to finding a support agency.
You need a clear idea of what the next 12 months would look like in terms of supporting you, and also how they plan to help you achieve this.
I asked Mike what he thought the best do’s and don’ts are to bear in mind during the process:
- Make sure you’ve seen and adopted SLA agreements in place.
- Penalties are really important to have in place. Being assured that if anything does go wrong, there's a clause to benefit you and your team.
- Most importantly, DO YOUR RESEARCH! Check social media, review plages and their own website will give you the information you need.
- Speak to their staff and the people you would be dealing with the most if you were to come on board with their agency.
If you’ve any more questions about support, a member of our development team would be happy to talk through your queries.