If you are like most decision-makers and business owners working in today’s digital world, you probably found yourself in need of a development agency at one point or another. You might even be looking for one now, but are unsure how to choose the right development partner for your specific needs.
And, if you can relate to the frustrating and exhausting vetting processes, we have good news for you. The truth is that there are thousands of development agencies out there, eager to get your business and become your partners.
But simply because they are there, it doesn’t mean they are right for you, or for your business needs.
So how you do you find the ones that do meet your requirements and high expectation? The simple answer is interviewing them, just like you would when hiring a new employee.
Should I use my first meeting with an agency to interview them?
Absolutely! Hiring a development agency is not that different than hiring your own team. The main difference is that instead of doing background checks for every single team member, you actually research the team – or the agency.
Just like with hiring a new member in your team, in the process of finding the best agency for you, the journey always begins with the discovery phase. What are your needs and how will their skills help you achieve your goals? Do they have to be onsite, or can they work remotely? And finally, do they have enough experience to fit your needs?
The agency you are employing also has to meet these criteria. And, once you found your candidates, it’s time to sit down and talk – get to know them.
So, what are the 10 most important questions you should ask when interviewing a web development agency? Let’s find out!
The 10 most important questions you should ask when interviewing a web development agency
1. What is your experience?
As you are looking for a web or mobile development agency, working with modern technologies and who is aware of the rapid advancements of the technology industry, a specific number of years won’t give you much of an answer.
In fact, for this question, as you would expect from a potential hire, you are not looking for years of experience, but instead, projects they worked with in the past. Moreover, you might also want to pry a bit more and ask for projects similar to yours or that are at least related to your industry.
This is also a great opportunity of getting the agency to talk about past clients specifically. You could ask them about their favorite project or even their favorite client, do they have references that you can reach out to? Basically, you are looking to:
a) See who the agency worked with before;
b) How do they talk about past projects and clients – are they professional about it?
c) What project(s) makes them proud and why?
2. Who is your team?
Since you’re not interviewing every single team member in that agency hence you can’t get a feel for them personally, a good question for them is who is the team? Where are they from? How long have they been with the agency? Where are they based?
The goal here is to learn as much as you can about the team, specifically the team that might be working on your project.
Ideally, the person you are meeting with – be it a sales representative, a project manager, the projects director, or even the managing director – will be able to provide you with enough information for you to at least start to feel comfortable with your future team.
3. What is your process?
Unlike when hiring a person, agencies have their own work processes, and it is crucial they share the project development plan with you. So, what are their processes? How do they go about research and how does the design and development phase work? Who is taking care of the project timeline, making sure your project is meeting the deadlines?
Also, keep in mind that most agencies work with a form of agile development, so a good piece of information is how do you fit in their processes? Ideally, you will be involved in every step of the journey, but there are situations where an agency might neglect to include you.
So, how much of a say do you have in the project once the design and development phase started, how do they deal with change requests, and what is the cut-off?
As a product owner, you will be inclined to second guess every aspect of the project, and it’s only natural – you want the end result to be the best it can be. But before you can trust your team, they have to earn it. The more transparent they are with you and the more they involve you in the project, the easier working with them will be.
4. How do you deal with going over a deadline and over budget?
Estimating a web or mobile development project is not an exact science. In fact, agencies use similar past projects and experiences to estimate a timeline. While, with a proper planning phase, most times these projections are quite accurate, sometimes, something may come up which will make the project go over the deadline.
Once again, transparency comes into play here, and raising this question might help reconsider possible risks and maybe even increasing the estimated time. This way, if the initial estimation was a bit off, you know what to expect. If the first estimation was in fact correct and the project is done before the deadline, all the better. Basically, you have nothing to lose.
However, another question is, do you have a strict deadline? For example, if you are building a website, app, or even a simple landing page for a holiday campaign, you probably expect the project to be done before that said holiday. So:
- How are they dealing with strict deadlines if it turns out the project is taking longer than expected?
- How did they deal with similar situations in the past?
5. How do you deal with changes in the requirements?
Another reason why projects sometimes go over deadline – and budgets – is something that project managers call scope creep, or simply put, too many changes to the initial requirements.
Changes are expected and are the main reason why agencies work with agile development, and normally the project manager will be able to help you prioritize your scope creeps.
So, how do they deal with change in general, and how would they avoid scope creeping damaging your project? Also, how do they deal with the risk of going over budget?
6. What do you expect from me and my company?
When you are hiring a new person, they will have expectations. Such as a laptop or computer to work with, specific assets, access to different tools, and so on. Similarly, agencies will need things from you in order to efficiently perform their given tasks.
So, what do they expect from you? This can be anything from content, media, and marketing assets, access to different areas of your existing systems, creating and sharing with them specific accounts for different tools they need, and so on. They might not have a straight answer and they might not ask for these assets right away, but at least they should give you an idea of what to expect.
7. How much control will I have over my content and website?
Depending on what type of app or website you are looking for, you will require a certain amount of control over your content. So, a good idea is to consult with the agency and find out if or what kind of content management system you might need.
Another follow-up would also be how much control you have over the content. Some CMSs only provide limited control, especially in their free versions, so this way you know what to expect, or if you should consider investing in a license or a better CM solution.
8. What kind of optimization and quality assurance will you do?
In most agencies that work with agile, both optimization and QA tasks are done based on each feature. Usually, the teams work in sprints, where the developers build, test, and optimize a feature, then send it to the QA testers for approval. And only once the feature passed all the tests, the developers move on to the next task.
However, it’s good to get familiar with their process in advance, and learn who is in charge of QA, what are their standards, and how extensive are their tests? Another follow-up would be – can you be part of the QA process?
By inserting yourself in the process you make sure that each feature meets your standards. This can improve the quality of the end product and reduce the risks of going over deadlines and budget.
9. Who owns the code and designs during or after the project?
As a product owner, you own the code and designs from day one. Regardless if you finish the project or decide to pause it mid-way for whatever reasons.
So, if an agency replies that you do not own the code, or even if they say you will receive the code only after the project is done, that should be a big red flag for you.
10. How do you deal with security, hosting, and maintenance?
Security has to be implemented from day one, starting with the database design, and the sooner you and the agency decide on what measures your project needs, the better. So, you might want to ask the agency to walk you through the process and what security measures they use – are there any extra safety measures they need to implement for your project specifically?
Next, who takes care of hosting? Most agencies will have experience with hosting, and even if they don’t provide it, they can still advise you on the subject. The same goes for maintenance – are they providing maintenance? Will they show you how to manage your own platform? What kind of maintenance plans do they have?
The process of hiring an agency is not that different from employing a new person in your team. Background checks are a big part of the selection process, but sitting down and having a conversation with the agency representatives is also crucial.
Moreover, the 10 questions presented above are more guidelines or openers for more questions – don’t limit your curiosity, and gather as much information as possible before you make a decision. By the end of the meeting, you will expect to know:
- How experienced are the agency and its team?
- Do they have a strong plan for taking on your project?
- What happens when the project is completed?
Hopefully, you now have a better grasp on how to pick the best web and mobile development agency for you, but if you need a second opinion, the Wiredelta team is always here for you. All you have to do is book a free consultation with us, and we will help you find the most optimal, and the best value-for-money solution for your business.