Agency websites: what we have learned
thenetworkone team looks at literally thousands of agency websites every year. Mostly, we look “through a client’s eyes”. There are some things we really like – and some things we find really irritating. Here’s our guide.
Who’s going to look at your site?
Mostly: clients and prospects. Design the site around what they want to know.
Also: existing and future staff. Include content for them, but in relevant sections only.
- Information: this is the minimum that every agency website should have, easily findable via a menu bar:
- One sentence on who you are and what you do (like: we are a promotional marketing agency specialised in food and drink.)
- Capabilities: list the services you can provide. If I want a mobile app, I need to know if you can do that.
- Client list. Show it by sector. Like: Finance: ABC Bank, XYZ Insurance // Travel: British Airways, Hilton Hotels, Australia Tourism. If you have a large number, list the major ones. No need to split present and past (just don’t include clients you lost many years ago).
- Team: pictures, names and titles. At least senior management. Other staff optional. Demonstrate diversity.
- Work: video cases are usually best. Not too many. The one you are most proud of goes top left (but move them around sometimes!)
- “Join us” – what it’s like to work here – this is where to put pics of your office, awards shows you attended, community outreach, etc. Maybe, save the office party for Social Media.
- Contact: address, map (google map link), phone number, email of at least one senior person like the CEO or the head of new business. Never use “hello@” or a contact form, serious prospective clients will not use these.
- Check and be sure the site works in all formats – Mac and PC, mobile, etc.
- Be sure content loads quickly. Remember, accessing sites from other countries can take longer.
- Simple navigation without distracting graphics, unusual cursors, etc.
- Use video sparingly and always with a skip video option. Often gifs are better, they give the site movement and energy, but are much faster to load.
- Avoid flash and any other programs that need frequent updating
- Don’t use jpegs with blocks of text – the text must be copyable into Google translate or accessible to a translation extension.
- Avoid links to other sites (like clients’ websites, or Youtube) – when your user leaves your site, they may not come back.
- Never have a website that is ‘under construction,’ offline, or out of date. No-one will trust a communications agency that can’t even manage its own communications. Your website does not have to be perfect, but it does have to be accessible.
- If you ever hope to work for someone outside your country, you must have an English version of your website.
- Content may differ slightly: like client names or logos that are locally familiar, need to be explained. Is Raiffeissen a bank or a beer? Tell me.
- Keep it up to date. If you have a news page that wasn’t updated for three years, prospective clients think your agency has closed.
- If it’s too difficult or expensive for you to update, an “English Summary” is OK, instead of a full English site. Don’t have a hybrid site with some sections in English and some sections in other languages.
- Communicate your agency’s personality. Are you the kind of business I would like to work with? This means what you are like to work with, not how many cups of coffee you drink.
- Communicate visually where you can. Avoid long copy, industry jargon, acronyms and internal references. Stories are good though.
- Try to be distinctive – it’s harder than you think. Most agencies offer similar services but each one has a different personality. (Your work says a lot too. Which work are you most proud of?)
- Give an indication of your agency size. Five, fifty or five hundred people.. clients need to know.
- It’s OK to list awards: but only if they are prestigious and recent
- A “knowledge” page is good. This is where to put your thought leadership pieces (written articles, speeches on video, etc.). Always be sure that external links go directly to the article on your site, with an option to go to your home page.
- Listing partners you work with may also be helpful – shows you are collaborative and work with good people.
- If you belong to an international network – or have built your own contacts across a region – say so.
- Provide links to your social media accounts (and ensure they are all active). And make sure you have a strategy for what goes on each platform:
- Your website for your agency’s information and contact info
- Twitter for topical news and comment
- Instagram for where you’ve been, what you’ve been doing, other people’s stuff that you like, staff travels, etc
- Facebook for the daily life of your agency (your new hires will check this out more than your clients)
- Linked In for thought leader pieces (link to your site)
- Also consider third party sites like Glass Door (if your ratings are favourable)
- Do say you are independent (and why!)
We hope this insight into the eyes of thenetworkone team proves useful when thinking about how you present your agency online!
To get this page as a PDF, please click here!