How to collaborate with your digital agency for amazing outcomes.

9 Minutes

Teamwork makes the dream work, collaboration leads to celebration, yada yada yada. Let’s go beyond the feel-good Pinterest quotes to explore what makes a client-agency relationship flourish throughout a website’s creation. Not surprisingly, it has a lot to do with communication.

Having worked on a high volume of digital projects over the years, we can honestly say that most of them go swimmingly. The project is on time and within budget, communication is clear, and both teams are really proud of the work. When it’s time to launch, everyone feels the excitement as virtual high-fives and mutual thank yous lead to glowing reviews.

Then there are the rare projects that, for whatever reason, go sideways. Frustrations mount, timelines bloat and the website limps its way to the finish line as if it had attempted a marathon the morning after an all-night bellini bender.

So why is it that some projects are more seamless than others? What moments of friction get in the way of effective collaboration? And how can we work together to create an enjoyable partnership that leads to exceptional work?

When things go smoothly.

The sun is shining, birds are chirping, and upbeat emails are flying back and forth. Sure, it’s just a website, but it’s also a journey we’ll be on together for several months. Might as well make it a positive experience. Let’s look at how we can keep a digital project in an ideal and inspiring place.

It’s not us vs them. We communicate in a positive, pragmatic, solutions-oriented way. We see challenges as opportunities and work through them collaboratively.

Twirling Umbrellas Core Value (Optimism)

Expertise is a shared resource. 

Great things happen when we lean on each other and leverage what we’re both good at. As subject matter experts, you understand your brand, your business and your audience better than we do. We’ll be relying on you for things like industry insights, key messaging and information about what makes your organization unique.

As digital experts, we understand what it takes to create a modern, user-friendly experience. Based on years of experience, constant monitoring of digital trends and best UX practices, you can feel confident that what we’re recommending has been thoroughly considered and tailored to your needs.   

Momentum is maintained. 

We always get asked how long it takes to build a website, and the answer is almost always, “It depends.” That’s because it’s difficult to predict how long it will take to receive critical information (assets, responses, feedback) at key points in the process. 

You can help make the project roadmap a reality by being responsive and providing the things we need to keep moving. When there’s a consistent cadence of communication between your team and ours, the momentum keeps us engaged and focused on moving your project forward.

Feedback improves the output. 

Experienced creatives understand the value of receiving feedback that is based on strategy, user insights and business goals. When you provide feedback that is less about personal preferences and more about the big picture, it makes the final product better. Thoughtful feedback motivates our team of problem solvers to elevate the work with purpose. More on how to make your feedback count later.

When things go south. 

Darkness falls, it’s cold, and a tumbleweed rolls across a desolate inbox. Whether it’s misaligned expectations, lengthy delays, or excessive feedback, something has derailed the project. No need to dwell too much on the negative here; there’s almost always a way to get things back on track. Let’s cover some common watchouts to avoid this dreary place altogether.    

Multiple cooks with different recipes. 

Making a website soup requires careful consideration for who is adding what ingredients and when. We understand that working with larger organizations means there are often multiple stakeholders and various levels of approval. This usually isn’t a concern so long as all members of your team are aligned on the site’s vision.

Issues can arise when not everyone who is reviewing the creative work has been involved along the way. Maybe you don’t want to bother an executive until the site’s complete, or perhaps a new team member arrives midway through the project. Either way, it’s important that all stakeholders are up to speed and on the same page.

Frequent stops and starts.

The website project could be just one of many things you have on the go, and we get that it’s probably not always your top or sole priority. However, significant delays can kill a project’s flow. And we know from discussing the sunny side of things how critical momentum is to maintaining progress and focus.

When the project’s at a standstill, our creative team has no choice but to switch gears and move on to other projects. Then when the project eventually does start back up again, it can take a while to get back into the mindset of your brand and users. So if you’re looking to keep the project on a productive and motivated pace, ensure you’re meeting your end of the deadlines.   

Feedback compromises the quality.

While diverse opinions are always appreciated, any direction and feedback you provide should come from a single unified voice. When one cook wants to add paprika, while another is adamant about cinnamon, it’s best to hash this out internally to make sure you’re bringing something tasteful to the table. That way, your digital agency can spend less time deciphering conversation threads and more time on the work itself.

It goes without saying (but we’ll say it anyway), that the type of feedback you provide should be delivered in a clear and respectful manner. It should be based on the brand and business goals instead of personal bias.

A quick guide to giving useful feedback. 

Be specific but open.

Explain exactly what’s not working, rather than how to fix it. We’ll be able to use our experience and best practices to recommend a solution that works best.  

Tell us the “why”.

When you can communicate why a change is being requested, you’re equipping us with the context we need to address it thoughtfully.

Stay goal-oriented and user-focused.

Ensure your feedback has more to do with objectives and your audience, than personal preferences. 

Keep it on time and on point.

Provide all feedback in one place and have it come from one person. Major bonus points if the feedback is on time.  

Resist the urge to mock it up.

If you’re having a difficult time explaining your point of view, let’s chat through it. When we receive a mockup or sketch, it limits our creativity – it’s as simple as that.  

Common website feedback
(and how we commonly respond).

We hear these things a lot. Usually, they come from a well-intentioned place with your company’s interest in mind, but it’s often not what your users want or need. When we respond to the following, it’s not us being digital divas – there’s UX rationale to back it up. 

“Make the logo bigger”

The right logo size is all about balance and hierarchy with other elements in a website’s navigation. Bigger isn’t always better. While a larger logo can seem like a good idea for brand recognition, it can actually signify a lack of confidence for users. We’ve all heard the expression that a brand is more than a logo – there are so many other opportunities on your website to showcase the brand that will create a memorable experience.

“Move it above the fold”

With varying screen sizes on every device, gone are the days of “the fold”. While first impressions are certainly important, trying to jam everything up top can be overwhelming for your users. More importantly, we want to ensure we communicate value immediately and intrigue them with just enough info in the hero section to get them scrolling. 

“There’s too much scrolling”

It’s a common misconception that people don’t scroll. But it’s quite the opposite – today’s users love to scroll! There’s no need to try to condense everything into short pages and force users to ping-pong between them. A robust amount of content on a single page can be very effective, especially when there’s ample white space…keep reading.     

“Reduce the white space” 

Often this is related to the point above in an effort to reduce scrolling, but white space isn’t wasted space. It helps users focus on content and has been shown to increase comprehension allowing users to absorb information more easily. White space also makes CTAs stand out, which can increase conversions.

“Make it boring”

Ok, it’s not phrased exactly this way. However, some feedback stems from a gap in understanding what boundary-pushing modern design entails. We spend a lot of time researching modern design approaches and trends that are here to stay. Just like wanting a bigger logo, it comes down to confidence and leaning on our visual and UX expertise.

Trust needs to be earned.

We fully understand it takes time for a digital agency like ours to earn your trust. But you’ve also chosen to work with us for a reason. Hopefully, it’s because you value our guidance as experts and you believe we have your organization’s best interest in mind, which we absolutely do.

By combining our digital expertise with your industry insights, we can create website gold together. By communicating clearly, frequently and thoughtfully, we can make sure it’s a pleasant process from discovery to launch and beyond.