All successful web projects have one thing in common: a genuine collaboration between agency and client.
Sure, great design and development are a necessity, but these should be a first principle for any professional agency. It is the fit between the client and the agency that underpins a truly unique outcome that exceeds all expectations.
Over the years, we’ve worked with a variety of clients on a broad range of projects. With quality design and build as par for the course, here are the ingredients we’ve found that are common to fruitful collaboration.
A meeting of minds
Any well-regarded agency will be adept at offering well-considered strategies, but these need to be made in the context of a client’s specific circumstances and expectations. Clients know their business, brand and audience better than anyone, and their insights need to be fully understood and explored to inform the solution.
This seems obvious but the challenge is for agencies to actively nurture that relationship from the very first meeting to foster an environment of openness and collaboration, where trust in the instincts and respect for the expertise of all participants creates the groundwork for greatness.
The right minds
Everyone around the project table has something to contribute, but limits need to apply to the number of voices present. There is a risk that too many stakeholders from the client’s side will dilute the focus and vision for the project.
Aim to involve only those who are accountable for the end result or are key decision-makers relative to the outcome. These should be those most invested in the project from a strategic perspective rather than merely having an informed opinion.
Most importantly, ensure these stakeholders are engaged as early as possible in the project and particularly in the design brief meeting and presentations. That way your key decision-makers are involved at the crucial steps.
Clear communication is a given on any successful project. Although all projects differ, we’ve found a few common themes that allow for clarity in this regard. This includes nominating two primary communicators – one from our team, and one from the client’s team – to avoid cross-communication and confusion.
Each project will also require a variety of communication channels, including face-to-face, phone calls, emails, video conferencing, online collaboration and project management tools. These are all incredibly powerful but consideration should always be given to the substance of the message rather than the channel.
There are many ways to say the same thing but some will resonate more than others. Be attentive to the best way to maintain a dialogue given the aims of the message and the personalities involved.
Timing is everything
Many projects are governed by deadlines that are often determined by client needs or expectations. In a collaborative environment, clear communication will shed light on the responsibilities that each party has to maintaining project timelines.
This allows both sides to manage their obligations such that they dovetail in a way that makes the process seamless. Of course, within this framework the agency should always be guided by the client’s schedule as far as is possible in order to maintain the quality of the deliverables.
Each client will have their own method for delivering feedback, assets, content and approvals but with both agency and client committed to the outcome, timelines can more easily be met.
What does success look like? Collaboration.
Success takes many forms, whether that be increased conversions or exposure, on-time or on-budget outcomes, award-winning solutions, viral campaigns or any number of other metrics.
And, while there are also many potential paths to success it is not a journey you can undertake alone. People ultimately determine the success or failure of a project. More particularly, a collaborative project culture exploits the unique blend of personalities, experience and skill sets in any given client-agency relationship.
While this is true for us and reflects our own ethos of digital as being “for humans by humans”, we think it’s a general principle that all good work exhibits.