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How to find and vet a quality software agency

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Published:November 13, 2015
Last Modified:September 30, 2022

Unless you have an extremely large budget to hire a large full service digital agency, you will be looking for a smaller, more cost effective solution for your website, store, or application development. Trying to find and vet a digital agency that is cost effective but that still produces quality work can be a very daunting task, especially for those that work outside of the web industry. Unless your company is in a major metropolitan area that has a large hub of web companies, chances are you are going to be searching for and vetting a remote company. On top of that, the online medium means anyone can say they are anything and often agencies project similar presences and messages. So how do you find quality web companies? And how can you be sure that you are making a well informed choice for your next project?

Where to look

Knowing how to find a quality agency can be challenging for many companies, especially those that are not in a tech-related industry. Below are some suggestions on how to find the right agency for your company.

  1. Start with your network. Recommendations from trusted colleagues, friends, or family is always valuable and can often put you in touch with a great company. Reach out to your network and ask if anyone has any recommendations about who you should contact for a consultation, or even who not to waste your time with. Make sure you are clear about the size and budget of the project to make sure the recommendations align with your expectations.
  2. If you are tied to a specific platform, search for recommended partners or community leaders. If you already have a platform that your website is built on, or one that you want to use, leverage that knowledge to your advantage. Many platforms have a list of recommended partners that have proven experience working with the system. If the platform is open source you can also search for leaders in the community to find where they work or to contact them for recommended companies to work with.
  3. Look for local companies. With the web this is by far not a requirement. Many of our clients are scattered all across the United States and we are still able to do great work for them. But if you can't find a quality agency through your network or platform related searches, looking locally is your next best bet. At least with a local company you can vet them easily without the additional cost of travel.

What to do when you have found an agency

Once you have your list of companies for application development outsourcing that you are considering working with, it is time to vet the prospects. You need to find the company with the most experience, best quality of work, and whose cost best aligns with your budget.

  1. Do your research. Look up past projects and see if the agency's old clients still do business with them. Look at the projects listed on their website and see what the sites look like now (are they still using the same design and is it still intact). Look on LinkedIn and see how long their main staff members have been with the company (always avoid companies with a high turnover rate).
  2. Visit the company. Even if the company is remote, it is always a good idea to visit the company. If nothing else, to make sure the company has a legitimate address and is not operating out of a garage somewhere. A face-to-face meeting is also your chance to better understand the company infrastructure and get a feeling for the company culture. It is much easier to tell if someone is lying to you in person than over the phone or email.
  3. Ask for referrals. Make sure you contact past customers to get a sense of their satisfaction working with the agency as well as to ask them if they would do business with the company again.
  4. Get a quote. It is always important to talk to a few different companies and get a few different quotes so that you understand all of your options and how the different companies would plan on building your project. Make sure to review not only the cost, but also the design, technologies, and timeline. This will allow you to make an informed decision about which agency is going to build you the best overall product.

Questions to ask

Knowing what questions to ask potential agencies can be invaluable. Below are a few important ones that you should make sure to include.

  1. Where is your development team located? Whether the agency has an in-house team, a development partner, or they outsource overseas, it is a client's right to know who is actually going to be building their project.
  2. Do you support websites post-launch? If the agency does offer post-launch maintenance support, find out what the cost of the support is and if they require a monthly retainer. It is also a good idea to get an idea of how much maintenance help their clients average post-launch.
  3. Do you build your websites with a custom theme? Or are they built from a pre-built or purchased theme? If you are paying for a top quality design it is only fair to expect that the development will be done at an equally high level of quality. Too many companies these days are ripping off their clients by charging them top dollar for a pre-built theme that they duct tape to work for the approved design.
  4. What is your project build process and what client involvement is necessary? Web agencies not only have different project build methodologies, but they also rely on different levels of client involvement. Knowing the project build process and how much you need to be involved will also help you to choose the agency that fits with your time and needs.

Have a project? Contact us today!

If you are searching for an agency for your next project, consider the experts at Tragic Media. We couple cutting-edge design with expert technology to build innovative websites and applications. More importantly, we are committed to our client's satisfaction and success. We work hard to make our clients feel like they have a dedicated in-house web team focused on helping them grow.

Contact us today for a free consultation on your next project!

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