Not A Work Of Art

Published: Monday 1st July 2013

There are lots of statistics claiming to report how long people spend (on average) on a website, anything from 10 seconds to an hour and a half. One thing is for sure – the user does not have to tolerate a poorly designed website any longer. There will always be another to give them the same information, one that is better designed and easier to use.


The same must be true of agency websites? With the sheer volume of agencies out there, why would a prospective client, or a prospective employee give their time to learning about your agency if your website is poor? They could just find another agency that has similar capabilities (let’s be honest, there will be one) and a better website and choose to give their time (and business) to them instead.


Here are 5 things to remember when creating and maintaining a great agency website:


1. First impressions count

An agency website says enormous amounts about you as a company. In lots of cases, it will form the first impression of your agency. Of course if your reputation precedes you then your website arguably takes a more backseat role, but if you’re a smaller agency or less well known (or worst still, suffer from a perception that needs to be busted) then it acts as your shop window, showcasing the best you have to offer to any potential passing customers. Everyone has had an experience where they chose not to give business to a company because of their website. It’s human nature not to trust something if it doesn’t look up to scratch, so bear this in mind when designing your website and really strive to create the best one you can within your budget.


2. Always keep your “I’m the client” hat on

When thinking about your website, always keep in mind the audience(s) you most want to view your site:


  • Prospective Clients
  • Prospective Employees
  • Industry


And when designing it, keep yourself firmly in their shoes. What will they most want to see? How much time will they have? How will they be viewing it?


In all likelihood, any prospective clients are there to see your work and your capabilities as an agency. If they like what they see, they’ll also want to know how to get in touch. Don’t be tempted to put a form on this page or to set up a email address to avoid sales calls – they’ll find your number anyway and as a client, I want to get in touch with a human who has a name and a relevant job title. Put your CEO’s details there if they’ll let you.


3. “We’re a creative agency, our website should be creative!”

Don’t be tempted to choose creativity over practicalities. So many times I’ve heard “we’re a creative agency, our website should be creative!”. Your work for clients should be creative, your website should be designed with use in mind. The work you choose to showcase will demonstrate your creativity. Your website will undo all that if it’s frustrating to use.


But don’t forget that you’ll be judged on it. Don’t make it “creative” to the extent that it’s not intuitive to use, but don’t make it look like a bank. As well as the look of the website, get a digital copywriter involved. It’s true that writing for web is different to writing for print and it’s worth seeking their expertise to optimise the content you’re putting on there. In addition, the tone of the copy will dictate the personality that comes across so it’s worth getting someone who does this for a living involved.


4. Think beyond the initial design

Think about optimisation for mobile and tablet. Think about what appears above and below the fold. Could you use adaptive landing pages for each person visiting? How can you improve your search rankings? Do you link your Twitter / Facebook / Pinterest / LinkedIn pages on your website? Very importantly, will it be easy to update? You can guarantee that if the updating process takes an hour, it won’t be done and the whole website will become out of date within weeks, so think about the usability for you, as much as for the viewer. The general rule is that the more frequently your page is updated, the higher it will appear on Google’s rankings.


5. Track your numbers and grow your community

As we tell our clients, the future is all about data. If your agency produces thought leadership then set up a data capture system that ensures you know who is downloading your material and what they download, how many times they visit. You’ll start to see pattern of what is popular and where people ‘drop out’ of the website. Encourage people to get in touch for more information and to be subscribed to ‘new releases’. The more information you can collect on people visiting the better (don’t forget to use permissions).