We receive quite a few website redesign RFP’s and inquiries from corporate and nonprofit organizations looking to create or update their website. Most of them tell us that they prefer to use WordPress, which is no surprise as it is one of the most popular content management systems (CMS) available.
How do you select an expert WordPress development agency, though? Any agency with a good staff writer can respond with big ideas that are often easily found on the web. So how do you select the right Digital Marketing Agency that not only leverages the capabilities of WordPress, but also provides tailored strategic direction for your communication team? They must be able implement measurable goals, curate the perfect user experience for multiple target audiences, and integrate the CMS with multiple third party systems such as SalesForce.
It’s not an easy task, but the right agency can–and will–deliver. Here are 7 key things to keep in mind when searching for a WordPress development company and creative partner.
1. Ask about the Strategy Team
Start with a strategy team that can solve complex challenges from a high level overview. A coherent web design strategy will help structure the user experience and information architecture for an ideal user journey. They will also help you determine what content is available or needed through a content audit. With an expert strategy team in place, you can determine:
- Target audiences
- Information hierarchy
- Content gaps or surpluses
- Opportunities for scalability with new growth
You should also consider an SEO audit as part of strategy. Keyword research and other SEO tactics will help ensure content and design is optimized for search engines (and yes, Google should be one of your target audiences). A great agency will have solid strategy team that considers both your needs and those of the business before they ever start executing the design or development phases.
2. Review the Portfolio
Ask to see the design firm’s portfolio. An experienced group of web designers should have a strong portfolio that demonstrates a range of work in organization type, needs, and scale. Look for sites in a similar field to yours, asking the firm to explain how they would apply previously created solutions to your unique needs and brand. Look for complexities, as easily manageable sites will always beat those that are difficult to navigate.
You should also ask about integration points. Do the example sites integrate SalesForce? Do they use and integrate Google or ApacheSolr search solutions for optimized insite search? Are there social media buttons for easy sharing? You want a team that knows how to use other useful applications inside the WordPress framework to provide a powerful, user-friendly site. Lastly, look for strategy and ideation implementations. How is the user experience structured? Is the design aesthetic consistent and on brand? Is the information easily navigable? Looking for these key points within the portfolio will speak volumes about the quality and experience of the design firm.
3. Ask to Review the GitHub Accounts of the Developers
GitHub is an online repository for code. It has 20 million users and 57 million repositories, making it the world’s largest source code repository. Web designers and coders use this site to test and share code, and to build better software by leveraging the experiences of other designers around the world. An experienced designer or design team will have contributed significantly to GitHub; this gives you an indication of their experience and level of expertise.
4. Learn about WordPress Frameworks & Contributions to the Open Source Community
This is another way to drill down and find out how much experience the team really has. You should ask if the development team has built their own framework on WordPress, as well as how often they contribute to the WordPress community. Our team utilizes our own framework and regularly contributes as leaders in the WordPress community. Expertise is gained through experience, and a seasoned web designer will have built platforms from scratch while contributing significantly to the open source community.
5. Evaluate References
Request that the agency provide 2-3 references and ask each of them about the experience. Questions should be tailored to how the agency would approach your unique needs, but also leverage reference points from other organizations. A few questions you could ask include:
- Was the team responsive to your needs?
- Did they deliver a quality product on time and on budget?
- Were they easy to reach? This becomes an important point during the launch and post launch phases where an organization might need immediate assistance for last minute tweaks and updates.
- Were they pleasant, professional, and fun to work with? Let’s face it, no one wants to deal with a difficult person for months on end.
- How is the website performing now? Did you increase page views/ gain clients/ serve your base as needed?
Clients that are really happy with the agency’s work will go out of their way and actually provide written testimonials. Much like any other job or opportunity seeker, a reputable agency will be able to easily provide testimonials and references upon request.
6. Meet the Individual Team Members Assigned to Your Project
Lastly, if you are located near the agency, ask if you can schedule a meeting at their offices or host one at yours. If not, see if you can meet via video chat, which can provide the same face to face-to-face interaction. It’s always a good idea to meet the team to see if you have a good rapport. A strong agency will put relationships at the forefront of their work. Ultimately, you want to work with people you like, but who also have the experience and expertise to deliver a top notch product.
7. Find a Great Cultural Fit
“Culture” can be a hard concept to define, but you definitely know when it’s missing. When you meet or video chat with your potential agency, do you feel like they intuitively understand what your organization is all about? Do you feel like they respect and understand your mission? Having a good cultural fit and shared understanding of your goals, aspirations, and mission can be a critical part of choosing the right web design agency. By finding the right cultural fit, the web design team will be able to build a site that fits your unique needs and those of your target audiences. This goes both ways–the agency should also feel like they are able to understand, support, and fit in with your group in order to deliver a superior product. You should always trust your gut and choose an agency that fits your culture and brand, as well.
Remember the key is to find a digital agency that not only leverages the unique capabilities of WordPress, but also provides a tailored strategy for your needs with the right qualifications and cultural fit. Find this, and you’ll find the perfect solution for an effective and engaging WordPress website to grow and scale your organization.