Insights

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When is the best time to hire a digital agency?

The best time to hire a digital agency may be earlier than you think. Build a long-term agency partnership that prioritises your company growth and users needs.

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Written by

Tasmin Lofthouse working from a cafe

Tasmin Lofthouse

Published on

19 December, 2022

Updated on

23 January, 2023

Websites don’t last forever — unless you keep them updated.

If you want to harness the power of your website, you need a team of digital experts in your corner. Whether you have talent in-house or not, hiring a digital agency is one of the best ways to access the minds of these experts and maximise your site’s performance.

But when is the best time to hire a digital agency?

If you find yourself asking this question, you’re in the right place.

When you should hire a digital agency

Hiring a digital agency can be a defining moment in your business.

Whatever your reason for hiring an agency might be, handing the reins over to someone else can feel daunting. So, knowing you’ve chosen the right agency partner matters — and so does knowing you’ve hired them at the right time.

I’m going to preface this by saying not all agencies are perfect. Sadly, some people have been burnt before by poor-fit agency partners. You might even be one of those people.

Not every agency will be suitable for your needs. But knowing when you should hire a digital agency can protect you against the fallout of hiring the wrong agency.

Most people hire a digital agency in reaction to a situation.

Maybe you’re hiring after site performance has tanked, security has been breached, or your last agency hasn’t delivered the results they promised. None of these are ideal situations to be in, but they can all be rectified with the right web design agency by your side.

Or maybe your reasons for engaging a web design agency are more positive — you’re hiring because your business has outgrown your old site, your products/services have expanded, or you’re pivoting to a new niche.

There are many moments when you might want to hire an agency.

Typically, you will hire a digital agency when:

  • You need to replace the old with the new - If your current agency isn’t working out, it’s time to get a new one

  • You have flexible needs - Not everything in your business will be constant. If you have variable demand, or want to reduce long-term risk, hiring an agency will be a better choice than hiring internally and increasing your fixed costs

  • You need specialist support - When you’ve grown to a point where you need work outside of your field of expertise, you will benefit from a bringing specialist agency on board

The long and short of it is this: hire an agency when you need specialist support, have flexible needs, or you’ve outgrown your current agency.

Here’s the thing though, people don’t always engage digital agencies at these times.

When did you last hire a digital agency?

I’m going to guess you last hired a digital agency because…

  1. You were unhappy with your current site design and wanted to change things

  2. You rebranded and needed to update your site to match the rebrand

  3. You expanded your services and the website became outdated and hard to navigate

Or at least, that’s when most companies tend to engage a digital agency. But it isn’t necessarily the best way to go about things.

If you hire agencies this way, it causes a process that looks like this:

  • Company hires digital agency

  • Agency rushes to replace old design with a new one

  • Company and agency go their separate ways

  • Website decays overtime as business changes

  • Company is dissatisfied with their site and needs a digital agency again

You end up caught in a hamster wheel of engaging an agency whenever you reach a dead end — an approach that’s only going to offer more problems than solutions.

Here’s why this approach is flawed

Sporadically engaging web design agencies as a knee-jerk reaction is flawed.

It doesn’t think about growth the right way

You can’t leverage the full potential of your site if you only ever engage a web design agency reactively. You’ll always be chasing your tail, changing your website in reaction to something else or once it’s already degraded.

Your site will either get your full attention or no attention at all. That’s bad news for any company. Not only will this reflect badly, but it’s also a waste of your time, energy, and money as you throw away your old site and start afresh every few years.

Reactive web design isn’t a sustainable approach to growth. After all, long-term success requires constant, steady growth.

It’s a financial strain

Engaging a web design agency whenever your site needs a complete overhaul can be costly. You’ll need to allocate a budget for every redesign. If the redesign is unplanned, this is even more problematic as you wind up eating into financial reserves you hadn’t planned to use.

The process is fragmented

Engaging a web design agency for a one-off rebuild can be a fragmented process that, if not executed correctly, lacks communication.

The client will lead on the request — led by whatever reason is causing them to request a redesign. The agency will then build the major features of the site redesign based on their understanding of the problem. It’s only at the feedback stage that the two come together to collaborate. At this point, it’s too late to make any major revisions and a new can of worms is opened.

Luckily, this isn’t how we do things at Skyward. We’re big believers in collaboration and transparency so all of our projects, whether they’re one-off or long-term, are a collaborative journey.

The agency can’t reach the end user

This approach can also create a hard line between the agency and the end user. As agencies are brought in for a reactive project, they often redesign the site to meet the client’s requirements.

But, this client-focused approach causes them to forget about the people the site is really for: the end users. Without the ability to reach the end users, agencies building reactively can’t collect any data to make sure they prioritise UX as part of the process.

The agency doesn’t have long-standing knowledge of the client

Finally, web design agencies brought in for one-off reactive projects have no prior knowledge of your company. They’re going in blind. This can result in a slow onboarding process and clunky delivery.

Understanding the best solutions for the client is a learned process. Agencies have to spend time familiarising themselves with your company, services, needs, goals and challenges. All of this learning takes place at the same time as working on the project which, frankly, can cause vital factors to be overlooked.

If your digital agency doesn’t take the time to get to know your company or audience, the partnership likely won’t work out. They’ll miss the mark and you’ll wind up with results you’re not happy with.

There is a better way

Picking up and dropping agencies isn’t your only option. There is a better way of working together. And that’s by building a dynamic, long-term relationship.

Using agencies to support your in-house team

Have your cake and eat it too! You don’t have to choose between using an agency or hiring internally.

Engaging a digital agency can alleviate strain on your in-house team. We know what it’s like working in-house. Dev tickets stack up, design projects fall behind, and team members are drowning under a never-ending workload.

If the above scenario sounds familiar, let your web design agency ease the strain.

Digital agencies are there to support you. They can ease workloads and action tasks. But, they aren’t just there to take work off your plate.

A digital agency adds an extra layer of expertise to your business if you choose an agency that can fill skill gaps within your company. Perhaps your in-house team is well-versed in traditional CMS but not headless sites — the right agency partner can swoop in and plug that knowledge gap.

Having a digital agency on hand gives you access to an expert and objective second opinion whenever needed. Your chosen agency partner can provide a strategic vision that guides in-house activity.

See, there are lots of reasons why you might want to hire a web design agency and build a powerful in-house team.

Working with digital agencies long-term

When you work with a digital agency on a long-term basis, you overcome all the roadblocks and challenges of short-term agency projects.

The longer (and closer) you work with your agency partner, the stronger their working knowledge of your company and users will become. They’ll instantly understand how to best support you in pursuit of your goals while also prioritising your users’ happiness.

This long-term partnership builds trust between you and your agency. You’ll know that you’ve always got them in your corner, ready to support you through any growth opportunities or challenges.

Plus, they’ll be ready to catch issues before they even arise. Having an agency partner on standby minimises the risk of things going wrong. They can manage ongoing maintenance and make small tweaks and improvements — rather than fighting fires after disaster has already struck. It’s always better to be proactive rather than reactive.

We've worked with Visual Comfort on a long-term basis so we can continually support them in keeping their headless website and apps up-to-date, secure, and functioning with UX at their core.

We’re in this for the long run

The best time to hire a digital agency is before it becomes critical (we’re not firefighters). Build a flexible, long-term partnership with a digital agency that specialises in your field and is ready to take your company to new heights.

Choosing the right agency is never easy. Here at Skyward, we’re happy to guide you through the process, ask any burning questions and help you decide whether or not we’re the right fit for your needs.

Ready to invest in your long-term performance? Let us know, we'll have your back.

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