How to hire a design agency

I've just been asked for some advice about hiring an agency. The answer to this is it depends on what you are trying to achieve. But here are some key things to look out for and think about before speaking to anyone.

  1. Be clear about the problem you are trying to solve in your own mind. Write it down it will help to clarify it.
  2. Know your budget, and tell the agency what it is, it will help the agency pitch the project at the right level.
  3. Do you need an agency would a group of well regarded freelancers/micro agency do the same job. These people tend to be the experts. Without account managers and project managers getting in the way so for a small project it may work out to be more effective. Look out for people like No Divide. (The person asking for this list is based in Leeds).
  4. If you decide you do want an agency be sure you get face time with the people who are doing the work. An account manager is there to sell you stuff. Ensure that one person will be your point of contact. They should be able to answer your questions rather than acting as a go between.
  5. Don't look for your project in their portfolio. Look for the way they have solved other people's problems.
  6. Are you looking for a full managed project from design to delivery and beyond? This will dictate the type of agency as you'll need someone who is going to manage the site for you post launch.
  7. If you are going to be relying on the agency to manage the site post launch what level of support are they doing to give you?
  8. Ask them what they need you to do as part of the project. If they don't have a good answer to this you're going to get ad-hoc requests for things that will delay the project.
  9. Beware of custom built products as they will be the only ones that can support this in the future. Look out for tried and tested solutions such as Shopify and PayPal that are widely used.

Some of the points above are stolen from a post on Medium by Mike Monteiro titled These 8 Tricks to Selecting a Design Partner Will Amaze You which is well worth a read.

I would also recommend anyone working with an agency or designer for the first time should buy and read his book You're my favourite client.

If you have thoughts to add please do chip in.

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