In this article, we’re giving you 7 steps to choosing your perfect design agency team, plus a bonus option that might be an even better fit for your growing startup or small business…
7 things to find out before hiring a design agency:
1. Do their services and expertise match what you’re looking for?
This may sound like an obvious point to start our list, but it’s worth mentioning that different design agencies will often specialize in specific areas of design, so do your research.
You will find that larger design agencies offer varieties of design services –UX design, animation, web design, social media graphics etc.– thanks to a wide pool of designers within their teams. Make sure to check that the ones you need are available to you, especially if you have a multifaceted campaign to execute.
Take the time to look through a prospective agency’s portfolio of work and services list before you arrange an initial call, so no one’s time is wasted.
2. Do they understand your target demographic?
Now that you’ve established that the design disciplines you need are available, it’s worth checking that your potential design agency understands the audience you’re targeting.
For example, the design styles needed to attract a Gen Z market are wildly different from those needed to woo Millennials or Baby Boomers.
On a smaller scale, look for a design agency that has proven experience designing for your niche or industry. Corporate B2B brands demand a different approach to design in comparison to direct-to-consumer brands, for example.
3. Do they have a solid track record?
Most people these days look to reviews before purchasing goods online, and the same should stand for outsourcing services, too.
You’ve checked that they offer what you need, and can design with your ideal audience in mind, but do they have proof that they can walk the walk? Look first on their website for testimonials and case studies from real clients they’ve worked with.
You can also check their listing on Google and agency review sites such as Clutch, Design Rush, and G2, and any social media accounts they have, to get a feel for what other clients have said about their work in the past.
Questions to consider:
- Are they easy to communicate with?
- Did they deliver the agreed work on time?
- Are they transparent with their pricing?
- Did they deliver on expectations?
4. What are your (and their) communication expectations?
Different design agencies will communicate with you differently. Some use digital management tools such as Asana or Monday.com to send files and feedback, others may choose weekly or monthly meetings online or in-person to discuss progress.
Neither way is wrong, but you’ll likely have a preference on which communication style fits you and your team best.
Are you considering outsourcing to a remote design agency? It’s a smart and effective way to scale your design team and your business but ask about the terms for contact, feedback, and revisions to see if your timelines align.
If you’re on a tight deadline and their feedback/communication window is 5 working days, they might not be for you. On the flip side, they may require assets and briefs within 3 days from onboarding you to keep to their schedules. Can you realistically meet that?
5. How many designers will *actually* be focused on you?
Design agencies in the US and worldwide vary in size. Some will be giant agencies with huge design teams and a client roster as long as Route 66. Others will be an intimate team of a few specialist designers that take on one or two clients at a time, and some will be somewhere in between.
There’s no perfect design agency size to go for, but the thing to find out is how many other clients the agency will be working with at the same time as you. Smaller teams with larger client commitments will mean longer lead times.
Ask how many designers will be assigned to your project and the number of hours they’ll dedicate to you per month. Is there room for additional hours if need be? Assess the contact time you’ll get with the agency and designers throughout the project, and whether you’re okay with it.
6. Transparency: Can they offer you everything you need within your timeframe and budget?
When you’re outsourcing any type of work, design or otherwise, transparency on what’s included is essential.
Make sure to find out if they can deliver everything you need within the budget you have, as well as the timeframe. And vice versa, make sure you can budget accordingly for the packages they offer.
Understand what happens if the project needs change, too. What are the costs involved in changing briefs or extending deadlines?
7. What’s included in their offers? Do you agree with their Ts&Cs?
Lastly, make sure you’re 100% clear on what’s included in the package you’re looking at, and what’s not.
And, what the terms and conditions of the agreement will be.
Who owns the work? Who’ll be your contact? How will the final deliverable(s) be delivered?
All of these things are important to establish before deciding on the design agency you’ll work with because each will vary slightly in the way they do business.
Could a fully managed creative production service be a better fit?
At Design Force, we strive to reduce the friction between you and exceptional design.
This is why we assign you a dedicated Design Manager to handle our designers on your behalf, so you only ever need to brief and provide feedback to one person.
It’s also why we created our flexible subscription model that’s been a hit with our past clients, like Hubspot, UFC Gyms and TikTok. It means you can scale up or scale down the design work you need to meet the demand of your business, and you’ll always know exactly what’s included each month, with no sneaky fees.
If you’d like to learn more, chat with our teams.