To agency clients – A short word on communication:
I must be honest. In our industry, web application design and development, processes don’t tend to be too unique and the steps are not overly complicated to understand (discovery, design, and develop are probably on most web agency sites you’ve seen).
What is unique, however, is the people, their team structure, and how they communicate with you, their client. Each step of your project involves (or it should!) various types of communication, from collaborative design meetings to constructive critiques, bug ticket creations to quick standups, to make sure your project is on track. Each one of those initiatives requires a different level of communication. And we get that.
Who you work with and talk to definitely matters because it will determine how successfully you will be able to communicate about project matters. It will determine how well you trust your agency with your idea, and in turn, how well they feel their expertise is appreciated and understood in the room.
In some agencies, all communication is funneled through a project manager who will answer your design and development questions on behalf of the team. In some, you work with a lead who may or may not do the work themselves.
Any communication style can work successfully. But at the end of the day, we find direct communication between the client and the one doing the work has been the most effective.
Because we’d rather not play the game of telephone when your money is involved. Who better to explain their thought process on design or to give you an honest opinion on a tech requirement than the actual designer or developer? Who better to be on that call with you to answer direct questions then the person that just finished implementation?
Worried about overuse of jargon (like a developer who seems to talk in language you don’t understand)? Yah, we don’t like that either. Because our diverse team contains designers, project managers, and developers, we are inherently predisposed to think about the audience we are talking with in each conversation. But we aren’t perfect, and we are continuously evaluated on that skill in our reviews. We encourage our teammates and our clients to let us know if we quickly gloss over a technical term or technique.
Rather than talking at you, we prefer to talk with you and walk you through our process step by step, regardless of the amount of experience or background you have. You hired US for our expertise, and we won’t hide behind our titles or our experience and expect you to just trust us on that. You should know how we are planning your project. You should understand the steps we take and believe in them as we do. And if you don’t, we need to talk through it.
So my one piece of advice: get to know the team you will be working with, learn about their process, ask how you will be involved, and find out how those doing the work will be communicating with you.
ps. To help prep you on getting to know your team, here are some questions you should ask a web agency before you hire them.