Choosing the best web design agency, or choosing the best branding agency was a breeze – we had the best team, the best solutions and were the better value, right? But what’s next? How do you squeeze the very best out of the best provider? How do you give your agency feedback?
We’re writing this one as a team, trying to piece together from experience what was some of the best agency feedback, at the most opportune moments, that we’ve ever had. And of course, what was some of the worst. This is our attempt to build something of a guide for future clients. Projects go smoother when we’re all working together towards a common goal, so we want to provide the tools and guidance necessary for you interact with us in the best possible way and to communicate your thoughts, feelings and ideas effectively.
We’ll divide our typical project into common stages.
We have to understand your business and its market environment in order to help you succeed at whatever adventure we’re about to undertake together. There are two main sources we can use to gather this information.
The first source is by examining the market and your competitors ourselves.
The second is by finding a way to transfer everything you know, or at least the key parts, from your mind and into the minds of our team… with little to no loss in transmission. With the Vulcan mind-meld not being an option, we have to do this with words. Frankly, some loss in the transmission is guaranteed. We try to avoid this by asking questions in multiple ways (sometimes to the annoyance of clients who think we’re asking the same thing over and over and we’re not getting it), with the intention of getting you to explain a concept using different language each time, perhaps even having thought about what you want to say from a different perspective each time.
The result of the discovery process is us recommending a way forward. A series of tasks to perform, annihilating your business’s pain points forever, with services we’ll provide to meet your business objectives. This might mean strategies to follow, wireframes to take forward or a branding moodboard created to use as a foundation. Whatever the result of your discovery process with us, and during our drafting:
- Answer every question we have as honestly as you can. It can sometimes be difficult to focus on what’s not working in your business but the pain points you’re facing are what we need to resolve and fixing them is always going to be the first step before we can tackle plans to achieve new goals.
- Ask all the questions you can. This forces us to explain to you the reasoning behind what we’re proposing, giving the ideas an additional sound-out. It also gives us an additional opportunity to confirm that what came from your mind onto paper, into our minds, then back on paper, back to your mind… is correct and corresponds to your needs as you understand them.
- Treat the process as a collaboration. There might end up being a lot of back and forth. It’s a worthwhile investment of both of our times and only adds to the scale of your future success. Don’t skimp on detail, don’t make assumptions.
To take the strategy that we have defined forward we will almost always need to involve creative solutions, particularly for Branding and Web Design projects. Here the art of giving agency feedback becomes more complex. Using the simple to imagine examples of logo design and website design, in both of these project types we’ll need to present you with rough creative concepts. For a logo, this might be sketches where different sides of your business might be the focus and we’d need to choose between two directions for a final concept. For a website we might present a wireframe to show the outlines and positioning of key elements and a brand style guide where we try out ideas of how to fill in the lines with elements from your branding. In either case:
- Stay objective. We’re not – and this is where many agencies go wrong – trying to please you, the client, and deliver something that meets your tastes and preferences. We’re designing to the needs of your target audience, what appeals to them, what best represents your business and its values. Get into that state of mind, get into your customers’ minds. What are they expecting? What do they want to see? What would encourage them to buy?
- Don’t imitate, innovate. When carrying out a moodboard process – which results in a scrapbook of sorts with influences we want to incorporate into a brand – we might end up with numerous examples of other people’s work. Some might fit our needs really well, or “just click”. When designing a website, a competitor may have a layout or concept you want to emulate. During the discovery stage, you might even provide examples of websites you like. These websites might be successful. Copying doesn’t guarantee results though. Nor does it set you apart in the eyes of the consumer. And we might have a better way of doing things that you should consider.
- Be constructive. There’ll be more to praise than to critique, and it’s important for all concerned to recognise the good in any presented work. Positive feedback helps us to go on to produce better work and keep a positive mindset. It helps us understand what works for you and to continue in that same direction, eliminating what doesn’t work more effectively than if we just worked on the eliminating soley. Talking about the negatives isn’t something that should be avoided, but we should all approach that constructively and objectively.
Web Development feedback
If we’re building a website we’ll come to you with near finished work based on the results of the discovery process and the design process, having created something that follows what we have planned out previously. If there is scope for discussion over these results, such as any implementation of changes we’ve discussed and agreed to during the development itself or aspects of complex functionality we’ve decided to test together prior to launch, there could be lots to discuss and agency feedback to give.
- Be your audience. Just as with the design stage, to the best of your ability, use the website in the way that you think your visitors will use it. Try to ignore all that we’ve done together and the reasons why we’ve done certain things.
- Stick to the plan. As we see the website come to life it’s only natural for the mind to explode with new possibilities and things we can add and expand upon. This is all good, and we need to take note of these new requirements, but first we need to focus on the work at hand, complete that, then think about coming around for a phase two of improvements and additions.
- Be wary of inexpert opinions. This is as true to the design stage as it is here, but, when showing others and asking what they think, you may be inviting personal opinions that don’t follow any of the feedback guidelines set out here. Worse still, you could be inviting opinions from people who have no domain knowledge related to your business and nothing in it for them when carrying out this favor to you to carefully consider any feedback they give. Common situations include them saying its all great without really looking to recommending a major change without understanding the reasoning behind a solution just because they want to give you some kind of response.
If you’re reading this because you’re about to embark on a project with us, welcome aboard. We’re probably very excited about what we can do for you, and we hope this post helps us get there quicker with no bumps. If you’ve otherwise stumbled across this and would like to find out more about what we can do for you, take a look around, or contact us.