Industries

Web Agencies

We know Web Agencies well, and we help them thrive. The essential knowledge guide for building and supporting a web service powerhouse



Industries

Web
Agencies

We know Web Agencies well, and we help them thrive. The essential knowledge guide for building and supporting a web service powerhouse

Knowledge Areas

Building A Web Powerhouse

Master what it takes to build a thriving web design and development agency that delights customers and grows your business.

Business Case (4 Dimensions)

Your business can survive almost anything with a strong business case, so start here. How can you, and how will you, serve your market? Consider four critical dimensions in answering this question; desirability, feasibility, viability, and responsibility. Great businesses are always considering PMF, their technology, the business, and CSR. 

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Business Requirements (3 Dimensions)

No matter how good your business case is, you'll need strong pistons to propel it forward. Consider these three dimensions; industries, sales, and service. Each of these pistons requires multiple fuel sources. Penetration into industries might require attending events, forming partnerships, etc. Sales teams need sales aids, CRMs, marketing support, etc. Service teams need production support, training, etc.

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Industries

Market research can help you measure your product-market fit. A SWOT analysis helps organizations target industries that align with their core proficiencies and their ability to service the market. The result should place your business somewhere along the spectrum of a broad and shallow generalist or narrow and deep specialist within the industries you serve. Once you demonstrated an ability to serve a market profitably, consider what it takes to enter additional verticles and build new strengths (and web products) accordingly while limiting risks.

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Template Web Design Model

If your organization strategically services targetted industries, a template website product could be a valuable offering to your market. Going narrow and deep into select industries allows you to create highly specialized content that is scalable, low cost/high margin, and allows your teams to quickly get in and out of projects.

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Custom Web Design Model

Suppose your organization broadly serves numerous industries or any industry. In that case, it will be nearly impossible to standardize a solution that meets most customers' needs — That's where custom website design is an excellent model that meets a broader market range. However, if you are considering a custom website model for a target industry, you'll have some serious considerations to work through. For instance, custom websites are significantly more expensive than template websites. As such, what retail price can that industry bear, what overhead will you need to fulfill these types of projects (project management, collaboration systems, etc.), how long will these projects tie up resources, and at what opportunity cost to other profitable work?

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Project Management

Project Management is an essential competency for any organization. Executing the proper PM methodologies for any endeavor in any industry is key to delivering on objectives with high-quality outputs. Website projects are no exception. They are almost always predictive in their constraints (scope, budget, time). Thus, they are carefully planned endeavors where project management skills will significantly benefit the development process's efficiency, quality, and execution.

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Production Management

Production management supports your organization's web service fulfillment arm by carefully, systematically, and methodically orchestrating work production and calibrating production pipelines. Designers must be able to get in and out of projects with clean breaks. Their work allocations must afford them the time to comfortably do their best work without haste or shadow of other looming projects that might need their attention.

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Product Management

Product Management is a competency that combines knowledge and proven practices that nurture products once they are brought to life, strengthening and building them up as they age. Effective stewardship of your product offering means regularly engaging all stakeholders, gathering insights, soliciting feedback, and synthesizing all inputs into meaningful product enhancement roadmaps. Product Management's primary focus is to increase the product's value by learning from mistakes, identifying conformance needs, innovating, and optimizing the lifecycle of sales, to service, to close.

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Product Development

An apparent truth, you can't serve (or enter) a market without a product. Product Development is a natural component of serving industries. When innovation satisfies feasibility, desirability, viability, and responsibility, you'll then have to develop the service end-to-end, including how it is sold, the process for producing and delivering the product, retail price design, margin modeling, etc. Additionally, great products are never introduced to markets and abandoned. Instead, they are nurtured, iterated, and often enough, reimagined. Product development can be as simple as improving an existing process, building new features, launching new product versions, or developing entirely new products from the ground up.

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Organization & Team Structure

A little secret: It's not just business owners that like to scale; so do teams - The more peers, the merrier. Be it small teams or growing departments, organizations need a healthy supporting apparatus to sustain operations and profitability - Needless to say, you need more than Web Designers. Web agencies require competencies and roles built into the organization and team structures for maintaining accountability, ensuring quality, limiting liabilities, etc.

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Pricing Structures

Developing website pricing is one of the most critical proficiencies you'll need to get right as a web agency. It's easy to eat into web project margins for many reasons: there is no project management controlling the project and managing stakeholders; review and approval phases seem never-ending; projects don't close with clean breaks; customers keep demanding more (scope creep). Project management can address much of this, but it has little use if the prices are not correct in the first place. Consider that building a webpage is only a fraction of the cumulative time it takes for an organization to complete a web project from sales to delivery. Often, there is much more time spent outside of designing pages to build-out projects, onboard customers, gather and curate assets from external stakeholders, communicate regularly with the client, etc. Ensure clients are paying for all phases and process groups that deliver a completed project.

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Revenue & Product Categories

Your web agencies should not only consider websites as their product but all web-based applications that could be productized. Consider your one-time project sales that generate cash flow for the business and recurring products that stabilize the business. Should you build catalogs of add-on products to existing products to further extend their functionality and thus value? What white-label SaaS products might be right up your team's lane to service and support? The products you developed should be road mapped not just in a Gant chart but into your organization's sales goals and P&L as a deliberate and prudent business objective.

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Stack Management

The appropriate stack that integrates cohesively with your operations impacts how optimally your web agency or department performs. You'll consider a CRM, Project Management platform, hosting for production and staging sites, team and customer collaboration/communication portals, web frameworks, software subscriptions, etc. And, it will all cost money.

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Hosting

As a web agency or department, you need fantastic and reliable website hosting. A great hosting partner can be a superpower if you choose carefully. Steer clear of name recognition and cheap offers and understand the criteria you'll need your partner to satisfy to integrate with your business objectives. Do they own their data centers or lease? Do they have Solution Engineers that can build customizable and scalable software and hardware? Do they have reliable 24/7 phone support? Do you speak to server technicians or customer support when you call? Etc.

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Web Maintenance

Helping customers maintain their websites is being a great partner and advocate for their online presence. Part of making a clean break when completing a web project is making sure the client understands the construct of the relationship moving forward. It's necessary to anticipate where confusion might surface. It would be best to think about how you can continue to support them after a successful project. How will updates to the site be executed? How will their website be kept secure? What is the backup protocol for the website? Web Maintenance addresses health, performance, and peace of mind that ensures a beautifully designed web project is one that the customer continues to enjoy rather than fall out of love with because it wasn't maintained.

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Mobile

Building up your organization's web chops means you now must seriously consider how mobile fits into your service offering. Consider two realities. 1.) Your web products don't only have to be a website, and 2.) we now know that your audience spends significantly more casual time on mobile devices than in front of a computer. With over 50% of all visitor traffic now coming from mobile devices, it is not enough to simply have a responsive website. Consider how you design uniquely tailored and custom mobile website designs and applications for an audience on the go. This presents a world of possibilities for you to understand when developing your products and services.

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Recruiting

Building your web organization's superpowers means finding the right heroes to do the job. Consider what web products and services you'll be developing. Look at your one-year plan and your five-year plan. What competency do you need on day one vs. what muscle do you need to build up over time? Now, start hiring. Be sure to hire at the skill level you need today. Plan for how you'll get a diverse pool of candidates. You'll need to develop and administer skills assessments to move qualified candidates along. Understand your pass/fail benchmarks, and design your interviewing process. Once you've got your team, you're not done. Assessing your production capacity should be perpetual. Your recruiting cycles should be index against your sales performance and resource capacity

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Training & SOPs

Finding and recruiting talent is only part of your responsibility. It is essential that you train and support the talent you bring through the door. Ensure you have a standardized and comfortable onboarding for every role and skill level. Uncover strengths and gaps in knowledge and skill and tailor training accordingly. Drive efficiency in your production by creating standardization wherever processes should be repeatable. Empower your team to learn and grow together. Surround them with great leaders and mentors.

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Career

Organizations should consistently recruit even the talent they've already hired. Develop transparent and thoughtful career track programs that invest in their skills development and support their growth. Ensure you have a standardized and comfortable onboarding for every role and skill level. Uncover strengths and gaps in knowledge or skill and tailor training accordingly. Empower your team to learn and grow together. Continue to attract and invest in your talent by furthering education through courses, certification programs, and fostering mentorships. Consider developing incubators and internal startups that allow your most talented rockstars to flex their genius - Hence, reduce your talent feeling they have to leave your organization to grow or pursue ambitions where those ambitions might otherwise align with the organization. And when they have outgrown the organization, commission a grand ceremony of their graduation that demonstrates your gratitude for all they have done and do all that you can to help them succeed in their new ventures. Be the organization that is intentional about building careers.

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