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12 Questions to Ask a Digital Agency

FAN2036296 12 Questions to Ask a Digital Agency

Before interviewing a digital agency over the phone, you want to think carefully about your requirements and keep a list of running questions to get through during your call.

While in our post titled How To Choose the Right Digital Agency we go over some general tips for picking the right firm, here are some specific questions that will also help you narrow down to the right agency. For the sake of simplicity, we are assuming that the project you have in mind is the development of a website.

1)      Who will be working on my project?

Ask this to get a sense of titles, roles, and responsibilities—in particular, try to find out who your main point of contact will be for all questions related to the project.

2)      What is the development methodology you typically use?

There are various software development methods like, waterfall, agile/scrum and others. Make sure the firm is following an approach that meets your needs—e.g. development based on fixed requirements, or a more flexible approach with regular, weekly or bi-weekly iterations.

3)      How will you go about making the site cross-browser and cross-platform compatible?

It’s a mad, mad world with almost too many different types of browser and screen sizes. While you may not want or need to optimize for all of them, you’ll want to know what you’re getting. Find out whether people will be able to easily access your site on different browsers (like Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Internet Explorer), and on different screens (like various laptop and desktop screens, and mobile and tablet screen sizes).

4)       How will I control the content of the website once it’s built?

In a perfect world, you’d have the “keys to your castle” once the project is finished, and you’d be able to update new content (e.g. articles, blog posts, general website copy, images and video) and make changes as needed. Figure out how much control and flexibility you need, and see what the firm can build for you.

A related question to this is: Will you be building my site on top of an existing content management system (like WordPress, Drupal, Magento etc.) or creating a custom CMS for me? On what basis do you make your recommendation?

5)      What is your quality assurance process?

No web project comes without its share of bugs, and you want to make sure someone is on top of it, testing and fixing your site as issues come up.

6)      What happens if I find bugs after the project is complete?

Try to make sure the firm has a process for fixing bugs for at least a short window of time after the initial project signoff. Typically this runs anywhere between 30 – 60 days after the project is officially complete, just so you can be completely sure that you’ve been handed off a good-quality product.

7)      Who will own the IP (intellectual property) of the product?

You want to make sure that your contract clearly states that the firm is providing a “work for hire” arrangement, where you (or your company) is officially the actual author of the “work product” and any other IP created by the firm.

8)      Can you provide me a list of at least 5 websites/ apps you have built?

This is a good question to ask if you haven’t already had a chance to review the firm’s online portfolio.

9)      Can you provide me with 2 – 3 client references?

Note that some firms have it in their policy not to provide potential clients with existing or past client references, not because they have something to hide, but just because their current clients would end up getting harassed with phone calls all the time. This is fair enough, in our opinion, but it never hurts to ask for references, and very often, firms are willing to share.

10)   Will my website be scalable?

You definitely want to know what happens if you hit it big and your website goes from having 5,000 to 5 million unique visitors every month. Make sure the firm tests for scalability, so that your website doesn’t “break” when counts the most.

11)   How will payments be structured?

Make sure you have a clear understanding of the payment plan, both whilst the site is being built and also on an ongoing basis, if changes and updates are needed as part of regular site maintenance.

12)   How do you back up data and control for versioning, in case anything terrible were to happen?

Most agencies have very systematic and methodical ways of handling version control and making sure your site is backed up and can be recovered in case of an attack or crisis of any kind. Still, make sure you know the answer to this question, so that if something happens you can stay calm and not be caught off guard.