We’ve worked with hundreds of clients that range from entrepreneurs to small businesses to BIG brands. No matter what the project, creative design involves team work. Collaboration ensures that the appropriate information is shared, processes are honored, and communication is fluent.
If you’ve ever worked on a group project, you have most likely experienced the strain of carrying an uneven the load. Whether it’s on the agency’s side or the clients, the most productive experience is had when all parties are accountable to each other. So here are some expectations that you may want to consider before working with an agency. Feel free to share any addition feedback, thoughts, and ideas in the comment section below.
1. Get Organized Beforehand
As the client, you will most likely need to provide a certain level of guidance to support the agency in crafting the best product for you and your business. The less key details you give, the less likely you are to ensure that you will get what you need or want. Consider your systems and your data management? Do you know where your original logo files are? Do you have content already developed and edited? Do you have hi-res images that are easily accessible? What are your expected timelines and how should it inform design?
It’s easy to assume that experts can create something from nothing, but that’s not always true. Our job is to take what you have and to improve it, so it’s okay if you don’t have much, but understand we will need all that you do to create the best outcome. So, gather your team and be prepared to get organized before working with a Creative Design Agency.
2. Stick to the Scope of Work
This is very important. The scope of work allows the agency to determine whether they can get the job done, how much they will need to charge and how long it will take. When you are working with an agency, you want to make sure that your expectations are clear and understood. This ensures you will get what you want, but it also ensures that you will pay an agreed upon price. Any deviations from the scope of work can be costly, so be sure to ask questions and make sure you provide as many details as possible up front.
And if you do have changes, understand that this is a new ask and the agency isn’t required to have the time or capacity to complete the new request. It should be approached as a completely new request that may require a new timeline, contract, and cost. A clear scope of work up front is essential for maintaining a good relationship with the agency.
3. Do Your Research
One of the questions we ask in our initial consultation with clients is “Have you viewed our work?” It is very important that when you are choosing an agency, you do your homework beforehand. You should task yourself or someone on your team to research the company by reviewing their website, conduct a google search, and look at reviews on and off of their website. It’s not uncommon to find design agencies that don’t have a huge social media following (mostly, because they are spending time building one for their clients), but no reviews, negative reviews, or no online footprint would lend to some good questions during the inquiry process.
Ultimately, you should choose the best agency for you. If you are just starting, you may choose a smaller agency with less of a digital footprint because of cost. If you are a larger company, you may want a more established company because you want to make sure the job will be done right. Either way, you shouldn’t just rely on what the agency says when they are pitching to decide whether they are right for you. And every agency isn’t the right agency for you.
4. Time is of the Essence
When considering a new project, timing will have a number of roles in your relationship with the agency? First, you want to make sure you give enough of a runway to get your deliverables done right. It’s not uncommon to be lost in the shuffle of things, only to realize you need a website for a new product launch in two weeks. Yikes. It honestly happens to the best of us, but it can be a red flag for an agency.
Most agencies have a common time frame they give themselves based on the type of project, the scale, and their capacity. The occasional last minute project may be afforded, but it doesn’t typically result in the best product. Even if they agree to take you on, there may be a rush fee or strain in brining the product to fruition, which means you may have to sacrifice design for your short timeline.
5. Trust is Mandatory
Lastly, but maybe the most important is trust. Have you ever walked into a space to do your job and felt like you were questioned ever step of the way? We have and it’s not fun. This process is collaborative, but be careful to understand that anytime you hire an agency, there should be a level of trust that says, “I have an idea of what I want, but I’m trusting you to lend your expertise to guide me through this.” There are clients who know exactly what they want and they want to be more hands-on in the design process, then there are clients who don’t know what they want and want to be led. Both of these relationship involve trust, because the client understands that they will get what they want or need in the end. All of this should be communicated up front.
Art is subjective but design has rules. Agencies are typically considering the information you’ve provided against industry standards, best practices, and artistic inspiration. Depending on the type of agency, being too hands-on can communicate distrust, or being too hands off can cause frustration. Either way, trust is essential. Without trust and clear expectations, you may find yourself perpetually dissatisfied with the work.
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