Who to invite to the competition for a website, and how to choose the winner?

An efficient way of choosing the agency which should create the website is conducting a competition, about which we did write in one of the previous posts. In this article, we will focus on who to invite to the contest, how to choose the winner and what to do after choosing the digital agency which will carry out the order.

Beside creating the brief, a key element preceding the competition proceedings, is choosing a group of a number (a few over a dozen at tops) agencies, which will be invited to participate in the competition. An appropriate selection of participants, will ensure that the offers presented by the agencies will be of high quality. There is a number of ways to invite the agencies, worth learning. After inviting the potential contractors, the only thing left is choosing the winner.

Who to invite to the competition

One of the ways of choosing the digital agencies is to rely on recommendations. And this does not mean companies which someone knows, but rather those with which someone did work and is pleased with the effects. It is important because the information about the comfort of working together, timeliness and communication quality are no less important than the final effect in the form of a website. The experience in working with a particular agency is essential. When requesting a recommendation it’s worth asking a number of questions regarding the final outcome and course of the cooperation. It is worth getting to know the details, because thanks to this we can learn about some of the problems which appeared and how did the agency deal with them. This will help to avoid those problems in case of choosing the recommended agency.

It is good to look beyond the recommended agencies. Looking at the winners of other contests for websites similar in profile to the one in question, is also worth considering. However, keep in mind that the services provided by agencies which win awards may be more expensive than those of the lesser titled ones. Although, such agencies rarely complain about the lack of work, so an important factor, beside money, may be the question whether the project is interesting from a prestige or innovation point of view. Inviting an award winning agency to the competition may become an interesting experience and a chance to compare their way of work, philosophy or standards with other offers.

The list of invited agencies may be supplemented with those found on the internet. “Digital agency” may be searched with the Google search engine. An immense number of pages corresponding to the search will be displayed. It is worth taking notice of those placed at the very top, because this suggests that they know how to do their positioning, and that is always good. If it’s needed to find an agency from a given city, simply add the name of the city to the search phrase. It is however worth mentioning, that location should be a secondary factor, as digital agencies are well adjusted to effective remote work. Regular meetings are not necessary.

Another way of searching for agencies which might be invited to the competition, is checking which one participated in creating other pages which we find interesting in reference to our needs. It can be done by visiting pages which seem interesting in terms of their look, functionality, architecture or those made for other companies from our business branch. Information on which agency created a given page, can not always be found. Sometimes the name of the agency can be found in the footer, or its name in the code. Another method is writing the name of the company or brand which page we find interesting, along with the word “realization” or “portfolio” in a search engine.
We may try to derive such information from someone we know or from someone who knows one of our friends. This is where LinkedIn comes in handy. Searching on the web, in printed papers or magazines dealing with marketing or e-marketing is also an option. Information on which agency won a competition or an auction for creating a website, or which one just finished such a project, sometimes appear in the above mentioned.

How to choose a winner

After receiving the offers, comes the time to analyze them and choose the winner. When inviting agencies to the competition, we send them a brief, answer their questions (the so called debriefing) and doubts – in short, we define as precisely as possible, our needs, terms and conditions. In order to work further with those who fully understand what we mean, we should at first set aside those offers which do not meet our demands.

Sometimes, a grading system based on figure skating is used by the person responsible for conducting the competition. In this method, the cheapest and priciest offers are discarded. It makes sense, only after learning the reason for such pricing. If the other elements of the offer make sense, it is worth asking the agency about the reasons behind the low or high price.

After discarding the offers which do not meet our demands, the rest may be presented in a table form – a kind of criteria array determining their importance. It would be best if the rating for particular elements would be presented in numbers. This method is the best, because it allows to focus strictly on assessing particular elements, and an approach in determining the final mark, which shows the real expectations. The experience in creating such websites will be the most important factor for one client, and for the other the unique nature of the solutions created by the agency. There may be many criteria for choosing an agency. These are some examples:

  • price
  • execution time
  • general experience (for example time on the market)
  • experience in the given business (for example number of projects conducted)
  • an assessment of the concept/creation (if demanded in the competition)
  • credentials

An element hard to define, is determining the impression the offer has made. Sometimes, an impression allows to let go of one offer, and put another on the shortlist. A hunch that it’s worth thrusting a given agency may be caused by a unique form of the materials enclosed with the offer, finishing a large and meaningful part of the job on an early stage or simply because of the good impression representatives had made. A numerical value (preferably not a high one) can be given to the impression, and later taken into account.

What’s next

At the end, the ordering party chooses the winner.

However, it’s easy to imagine a situation in which there are for instance two winners who will deal with different elements of the order. This is however unlikely and might indicate that the person in charge of the competition, allowed to appear in the final companies which were unable to execute the task on a needed level. It is also possible that one agency is very good in one field (for example technology) while some other agency is definitely the best in creativeness. In that case, each can work on what it’s best at. There may also be a situation in which no winner will be chosen, which may suggest that the entire competition was not conducted correctly.

After choosing the contractor, the client should inform the winner, but also the agencies which did not make it. There may be some questions from the losers as to the reasons for the decision – what determined their failure. Answering is not only in good taste, but also makes for good commercial practice and helps agencies to develop. Knowing the elements of the offer which were poorly graded, they may work on enhancing their quality. Treating the contractor well, on each stage of the contact, has a positive impact on the image of the company. Unfortunately, many companies treat their clients well (up to the point of “catching” them), and deal with their contractors in a totally different manner.

The next stage, after choosing the digital agency which will create the website, is to write down an execution agreement. It is a very important element, which is the basis of any further actions. Determining the terms and conditions, payment terms, schedules – those are only few of the important issues which should be stated in the contact. Agencies have model contracts, which serve as a base for creating documents which fit the client and the details of the order.

Choosing a digital agency, writing down a contract and beginning building draft projects is the beginning of the execution of the project, which must end with the implementation of the website according with the client’s needs.

Score sheet template

The criteria of choice and their importance will differ depending on the project and the character of the client’s business. It’s worth having, and using in the competition proceedings, a template, in which the criteria can be simply determined along with their importance, depending on the situation. A starting point may be an example template, which we post below.

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NDA – Non-disclosure Agreement (template)