Your charity or organisation is in need of a serious overhaul of its website and your digital team have been tasked to contact a handful of web development agencies to get the ball rolling. But in a world jam packed full of ‘technology solutions’ and ‘top performing agencies’, it can be hard to see the wood for the trees. What can you do to make finding an agency easier? And how can you make sure it’s the right agency for your team? Here’s our helpful hints...
1. Do Your Groundwork
Before you go into a new website project you should have already sat down as a team and thought about why you want a shiny new website. Perhaps it’s not mobile friendly or stuck in the 90's with heaps of text and titles that scroll? Do you want to increase engagement for your organisation with social plugins and a community hub? Or maybe your team are launching a new strategy and it’s time for a fresh look?
Make sure you’ve got a list of your objectives jotted down and you have a team in place who will manage the project.
2. Money, Money, Money
You really, really need to know what budget you have. Have you got budget signed off from the powers that be? If not, get this in place before you chat to a web agency - this will ensure complete transparency from the get go. The agency will be able to tell you straight away if it’s a project they can work on dependent on your budget.
3. Know Your Audience
So you know you need a new website but who is the website for? For fundraising? For awareness? For people you are trying to help? ? Probably its for all of the above.
Write a list of who your target audiences are then try and and prioritise what’s important to each of your personas. This will start building a picture of how you want your new website to look, feel and function.
4. Must Have, Want to Have and Wish to Have
What features does your website need? Once you’ve got your audience sorted it’s likely you’ve already started to think about their needs . What else do you need to meet your strategic objectives, e.g., signup forms, donation pages, video stories, events, advice?
It’s a good idea to prioritise your list as ‘must-haves’ ‘wants’ and ‘wishes’. You can do this using must have, should have, could have, won’t have (known as MoSCoW)
This will really get you thinking about your brief and just what your chosen agency need to be able to deliver. Think about what already works or doesn't work on your current website.
5. Organisation & Integration
What kind of content management system do you need? This will be informed by your list of 'must have' features. Have a think about what kind of access rights you need too. Do you need different levels of access for different members of your team?
You should also mention any other platform you have and whether you need any of these systems to talk to each other. For example, sign ups from the website need to go to Campaign Monitor or donations to your CRM.
Have you got brand guidelines, positioning and tone of voice guidelines? These will really help your chosen agency get under your skin and quickly visualise what your new website might look like. This is a good opportunity for you to pull together your mission statement and brand values along with an overview of why your organisation exists, who you are and what you do.
Perhaps you need a totally new look? If so, have you thought about additional budget and time for a brand overhaul? How extensive do you expect this to be? Purely visual or a review of your positioning?
7. Get Inspired
What are your competitors up to? What other websites do you like as a team? Bring everyone's ideas together and don’t just look at websites that fit within your category of work. Look at the good, the bad and the ugly so that you have a very clear idea of how your new site should look.
The more informed you are now, the easier it will be for you to brief an agency and for them to create something special.
8. Make a shortlist
Finally, when you’ve done all the hard work in preparing your master website plan, it’s time to start researching web developers and agencies. Use lists, search for hashtags and look for recommendations using Twitter as a starting point. Ask around in your organisation and your networks. Or, approach organisations whose websites you admire to find out who they work with.
Or, if you’re a charity you could just drop our amazing team at Electric Putty an email...did we mention we’re a development agency specialising in digital solutions for the charity sector?
And that’s not all...a few other bits and pieces to think about.
Time - when do you want the proposal by? When do you want the website launched by? Set some deadlines for both you and your agency to work towards.
Process - what’s it going to be like working on the project together? How will the agency make sure they find out what you want and deliver it? What do you want the agency to tell you? It’s easier to compare like-for-like if you tell the agency what you want to know in their proposal. What happens afterwards? Find out about the ongoing support once your new website goes live.
Finally, it’s a good idea to make time for a chat - chemistry is important, you need to know that you get on so make time to meet or talk before the pitch.