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7 questions you must ask before choosing a design agency

By Ben Walker on 13 August 2018

Choosing the right design agency for your organisation can be tricky business. If only there were a crystal ball to help you see which design agency could give you the best service, at the best price, with the most relevant experience to your brand…

Well, there isn’t. But what you do have is the opportunity to ask a bunch of probing questions of your potential design agency before you commit to anything on paper. We believe these initial conversations are probably some of the most important interactions you’ll have, because asking the right questions at the right time can help you find an agency that perfectly aligns with your requirements.

We’ve used our own experience to pull together a list of some of the most important questions you’ll ever ask your future design agency. Prepare to take notes…

1. Can I see some examples of your work?

Any designer worth their salt knows a strong portfolio is the best way to sell themselves to a potential client. After all, the proof is indeed in the pudding. Ask to see some examples of similar projects they’ve worked on so you can get a feel for the quality of their work.

Something to bear in mind when looking at past projects is the design team will have been working to a brief and the end result is likely to be, at least in part, dictated by the client. So if there’s a design element you’re not keen on, make this known to them, so they can discuss which aspects the client had input on or didn’t.

2. What is the process of working together?

A group of people looking over a large table, reviewing different designs.

This question gives you some insight into the culture of the design agency you’re thinking of working with. Do they have a clear process in place? Or do they simply muddle through? Think about the type of company you want to do business with.

3. Do you have a niche area?

Some agencies deal with companies from specific sectors on a regular basis, so you may find their processes to be particularly well suited to your organisation. Working with charities is different from working with governmental bodies, for example. Having said this, you may also want to check they are not working with your competitors!

4. How much will the project cost?

A good design agency should be able to provide you with a clear cost of how much the project will cost once complete. There’s nothing worse than getting to the end of a project and being hit with a hefty, unexpected bill to pay. It’s also a good idea to discuss payment terms, so you’ll know exactly when the final bill is due.

5. What’s your turnaround time?

A clock on a brick wall.

Find out what time frame you’re working with. Try not to be put off by design agencies that need to schedule you in a couple of weeks or months in advance – being busy is a sign of success. Understanding when the work will be delivered will help set your own expectations.

6. How many rounds of amendments are included?

This is a biggie. Before you dive in head first, make sure you are going to get to input at various stages in the design process. It’s your baby, after all.

Sure, the designers have a job to do, and there will be some isolated crafting away at your project. But ultimately design projects are collaborative in nature, and a good design will want to help your unique vision come to life.

There’s a fine balance between too much tweaking and just enough input. This question will help you understand what’s expected of you throughout the process.

7. Can I read some customer testimonials?

Just like looking at a designer’s portfolio, their past customer testimonials will give you invaluable insight into what they’re actually like to work with. If a design agency has a good track record, they’re likely to have plenty of testimonials they’re happy to share.

We’d be happy to share our answers to the above questions, or any others you might have. Just give us a call…

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