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Are you an SME briefing digital, here's what to consider

There is so much to consider for an SME when briefing a digital agency to redesign their website. Getting the brief right in the first place is often the key to a great digital agency relationship and a successful project. This may not be something you do too often so here are some thoughts based on our two decades of digital experience will help.

Objectives and Requirements
Doing your research and gaining a full understanding of why you are considering redesigning your website and the thoughts and ideas within your own business is the first step in initiating a successful project. Ask around the business, check out the competition, give the project the thinking time it deserves. If the website design and development process is not something you enter in to frequently your digital agency should have a tried and tested process in place to help you navigate the opportunities available to you.

Be realistic about what you can afford and achieve. You may not have a detailed quotation but you will have a good feel when you are asking for more than your budget can deliver.

Writing Your Design Brief
Write a brief and a high-level functional requirements list. Be clear about your target audience after all you know them better than anyone. How do you want your new website to improve your business performance. This may be sales and leads related but it could just as well be about improving customer services or making your team more efficient. Include a list of website designs that you like but make sure they relate directly to your website and your business objective otherwise they are not relevant. Include your desired timeline but, be willing to listen to your digital agency when they advise on the time required to deliver the quality of result you both want to achieve.

All good agencies will ask for a brief or at the very least a high-level functional requirements list in order to give you an indicative quotation. Having this available before you make that first phone call or fill in the first contact form will save you and the digital agency time.

Style, Tone and Content
Briefing a new digital agency to redesign your website is a great opportunity to review your approach to your target audience. Is the messaging in your website achieving the desired results? It could be that migrating the existing content into a new website with a few more functional bells and whistles isn’t getting the most out of your project. Is the tone of voice correct, could it be more or less salesy, more or less conversational. This is a difficult decision. Why not ask some of your loyal customers to give you their honest opinion. Your digital agency will certainly be willing help you think this through.

Be aware, the number one thing that delays the launch of a new website more than any other is the availability of content, so start this process as early as possible.

Consider the Future
When considering your design brief and the cool look and feel of your new website and all the great new functionality you and your target audience will have at your disposal you should also be pragmatic about supporting your website once it is ready to go live. Is your current hosting partner great value or just cheap.

What support arrangements will you require of your digital agency once your website is live. Do you require any training of your team to get the most out of your new website. Very importantly do you have a digital marketing plan in place for when your website goes live. This isn’t only a pragmatic planning box to tick during the process but how you plan to promote your business online and how your team will work with the content management system will influence the design and development of your website.

Budget
Select the profile of digital agency that matches your objectives and budget, having done your homework as to why you need a new website be precise when you speak to the digital agency. Having an unrealistic budget can lead to appointing the wrong partner. Agree a detailed specification with your digital agency and get a price for the job don’t work to an hourly rate and just let the meter run.

Top Ten Check List

1. Do your inhouse research first
2. Know your objectives and requirements
3. Check out the competition online
4. Review your website content
5. Have a brief written down before you make a call
6. Plan your timeline but be prepare to listen
7. Consider your marketing plan early
8. Consider your support requirements post go live
9. Is your hosting fit for your new website
10. Be realistic about your budget

Published: 8 June 2020

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