By Max I.

Navigating the web dev world:
A startup's roadmap to selecting
a web dev agency

If you're a startup, you know how important it is to get your brand out there and generate buzz. The right web development agency can help you do just that. By partnering with an agency, you can get the world-class website you need to bring in customers and investors alike.

You also probably know that startups have a meager success rate of 10%, according to embroker. Partnering with an agency can improve that statistic. The right web development agency can supercharge your growth and take you from a bootstrapped startup to a million-dollar company.

A forward-thinking web development company has the know-how and the tools to take your slow, homemade WordPress website and build something new based on cutting-edge technologies. A top agency can also take crude designs on a napkin and create a solid mobile app or an incredible UI for your custom software.

But with so many agencies, how do you know which is right for you?

We’ll go over what an agency can provide, and give you some tips to help you choose the right web development company for your startup.

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    Table of contents

    How to spot a top web development agency?

    If you haven’t done it before, choosing a web development company that works with startups can seem daunting as you don’t know what to expect. Each web dev agency is different; some dabble with web design, others focus on app development, and others only work with small businesses. 

    There are some things, though, that make a high-performing agency stand out. 

    Here are the top 5 facts about great web development companies to remember during your search. 

    • Fact #1: Top agencies focus on your vision: A great agency understands your business thoroughly. That includes your key objectives, specific business type, audience, and how they can help your startup succeed.

    • Fact #2: Top agencies have specific, technical knowledge: High-performing companies will have experience creating optimal digital experiences for your use case. Don’t hire a mobile development company if you need a multilanguage eCommerce stores.

    • Fact #3: Top agencies create clear, organized plans: Startup development is a beast of its own and proper website development requires planning. Top software development agencies will curate and provide a structured plan of action depending on your needs. 

    • Fact #4: Top agencies understand modern web development: The right software development company can help you create a modern website design and turn it into a full-fledged digital experience.

    • Fact #5: Top agencies have transparent communication: A top agency communicates all expectations, including deadlines, updates, and suggestions, clearly and promptly. 

    What can a web development company do for your startup?

    In today’s world, having a digital presence is a must for every new business. However, it’s not that simple. Customers form opinions about websites after only 0.05 seconds of viewing them. 

    Clearly, having a great site is vital for your startup, but how exactly do you make a site great? 

    A web development agency can make it easy. They’ll help you build the best site for your business. But, they also offer several other digital products beyond just websites. 

    Let’s discuss some of the most common products a development company can give you. 

    Website development 

    Web development agencies can help you create an amazing site for your startup. 

    At their core, they are experts at web technologies. That means they not only can build a website, but also can make recommendations based on your business type. An agency can choose the best tools and functionalities needed to take your site to the next level. 

    This includes, but isn’t limited to, the technologies used to build your site. Let’s go through a few of them. 

    Traditional server-side rendering 

    Before the popularity of client-side rendering, we had traditional server-side rendering (SSR). Essentially, when a client clicks on a website in SSR, their browser submits a request for a page from a server, which is then sent back and generated to the client in full HTML. 

    As a result, the SSR only generates what the user requests. It doesn’t need to wait for the entire website to load, speeding up initial load times. Additionally, google search engines can easily crawl and index an SSR site faster, improving your site’s SEO. 

    However, since every request by the user must be sent to the server for processing, it can lead to overall slower load times. If your startup needs a larger, more complex website, this extra step can weigh down your site’s speed. 

    Headless CMS implementation

    Simply put, a headless CMS is any content management system where the front-end presentation layer, or the “head,” is decoupled from the back-end functionalities. Developers, then, can deliver content through APIs. 

    This gives you more control over your site's feel, look, and processing. Instead of being locked into certain tools, like in WordPress, you can choose your favorite tools and frameworks to build how your site looks. This can be helpful for startups as it allows you more creative control over your business and better ease when scaling. 

    With that said, headless CMS can be difficult to implement. The architecture itself is highly complex with many working parts. You'll need technical expertise to ensure your site runs smoothly. That’s where web development for startups can come in. They’ll have the technical knowledge and experience needed to make your headless site great. 

    Jamstack websites 

    Jamstack is a fairly new web development ecosystem that takes headless CMS to the next level. 

    Like with headless, it decouples the front-end from the back-end, allowing you more creative control over your site’s look and feel. Unlike headless, it pre-renders content and relies on client-side rendering to show that content to users. 

    The end result: a flexible, blazingly fast site that can be more scalable than traditional SSR. 

    On the other side, Jamstack websites require a more complex setup and may be more expensive to implement. If you are looking for a Jamstack site,  development agencies can help you out with expert Jamstack developers

    Progressive web applications (PWA)

    Statista found that mobile website usage accounted for 58.99% of website usage worldwide in the first quarter of 2022. Having a stellar progressive web application can improve your reach and conversion rates. 

    Web development companies can ensure you leverage this to your advantage with excellent PWAs. Since they stay in touch with the current digital trends, they know how to market and create optimal omnichannel experiences that allow you to reach customers on mobile, tablet, and more. 

    Mobile app development

    There are now more than three billion active smartphone users worldwide, which will continue growing. A mobile app can help you tap into this huge market and reach new customers who are looking for products or services like yours.

    As the world increasingly goes mobile, businesses that don't have a strong presence on mobile devices are at risk of being left behind. A mobile development agency can help you create a powerful and effective mobile app for your business, which can, in turn, help you reach new customers and grow your bottom line. 

    Custom software development

    If your startup is looking to add unique functionalities to your site, you’ll want custom software. This software is specifically built for certain users, functions, or organizations. 

    It can include anything beyond your typical run-of-the-mill software. For example, if you're running an e-commerce startup, you may run into difficulties with invoicing, organizing your inventory, or tracking shipments. Custom software can offer you solutions personalized for your startup.

    A great digital agency can offer you advice and assistance in building and deploying custom software. 

    Accessibility checkups

    The right development company helps you build and maintain an accessible website.

    With 15% of the world’s population being disabled or impaired (according to WHO), building an accessible web application or mobile application is vital for any new startup. 

    The right web development firm can ensure your digital experiences stay accessible by testing your site. This involves testing your website’s graphic design, the ability to navigate your site, the contrast of colors, screen reader usability, and more. 

    eCommerce storefronts

    Working with a development company is a great choice if you want to have an online storefront. They provide you with more than just a website; they provide you with the blueprints for success by guiding you through the eCommerce development process. 

    That includes launching and maintaining your eCommerce store, helping you choose the best eCommerce solution, and providing you with solid advice on achieving your business goal. With your amount of competition, an agency can make your brand stand out, resulting in better conversion rates from the get-go. 

    Web portals

    Development agencies can also improve your startup’s organization with web portals. Web portals or company portals provide stakeholders with a single access point for information. They can be used to provide customers personalized information, manage employees, or even improve the security of sensitive client information with a single login point. 

    A software development company like Ikius can build and teach you how to leverage a web portal to gain greater control over the day-to-day processes of your business, improving your management and security. 

    Potential pitfalls of hiring the wrong agency

    Yes, a web company can be a valuable investment to establish your online presence. Like with any digital project, you’re bound to run into challenges. There are things you need to consider before working with an agency.

    Here are the most common challenges we’ve noticed about website agencies: 

    • Misaligned interests: Agencies are businesses themselves. That means they are worried about their clients, but also their growth, revenue, and new clients. While you may focus on your project’s needs, an agency may focus more on adding your project to their portfolio. Additionally, they may take a slower time to complete projects based on their revenue.

    • Quality range: Many agencies create amazing, high-quality products. However, it’s impossible to specialize in everything. Even a great agency will still have weak points. You need to be careful when looking at a company’s expertise. 

    • Changes to the agency: Mid-way through your project, an agency could shift its staffing to remove an expert developer from your project. Other staffing and organizational changes could in-directly impact your project’s deadlines or even its end quality. 

    • Maintenance issues: All websites need maintenance from time to time. Unfortunately, some agencies won’t maintain their work on your project. Instead, you’ll need to pay additionally for maintenance fees, bug fixes, and so on. 

    To learn more about the process of working with an agency and what you should know, consider consulting online communities, forums, and other resources to double-check any questions or doubts you have about working with an agency, or gain additional information.

    Some of the most popular resources include: 

    How to spot a top web development agency?

    If you haven’t done it before, choosing a web development company that works with startups can seem daunting as you don’t know what to expect. Each web dev agency is different; some dabble with web design, others focus on app development, and others only work with small businesses. 

    There are some things, though, that make a high-performing agency stand out. 

    Here are the top 5 facts about great web development companies to remember during your search. 

    • Laser focus on your vision: A great agency understands your business thoroughly. That includes your key objectives, specific business type, audience, and how they can help your startup succeed. A website is not a one-and-done project; it requires ongoing support and maintenance to keep it up-to-date, secure, and functioning optimally. When choosing a web development agency, inquire about their post-launch support and maintenance services. This may include bug fixes, performance optimizations, security updates, and adding new features as your startup grows. A long-term partnership with an agency that offers reliable support can save you time and resources while ensuring your website remains a valuable asset for your business.

    • Specific technical knowledge: High-performing companies will have experience creating optimal digital experiences for your use case. Don’t hire a mobile development company if you need multilanguage eCommerce stores. A competent web development agency should have expertise in the programming languages and frameworks relevant to your project. This may include languages and frameworks like React, Next.js, Gatsby, and Vue. Familiarity with these technologies ensures that your website will be built on a solid foundation and can be easily maintained and updated.

    • Clear, organized plans: Startup development is a beast of its own and proper website development requires planning. Top software development agencies will curate and provide a structured plan of action depending on your needs. A reputable web development agency should be able to provide you with a realistic timeline and milestone estimates for your project. This includes the time required for planning, design, development, testing, and deployment.

    • Transparent communication: A top agency communicates all expectations, including deadlines, updates, and suggestions, clearly and prompt. Effective communication is essential for a successful project. Inquire about the agency's preferred communication and collaboration tools, such as email, project management software, video conferencing, or instant messaging platforms. The agency should be willing to use tools that facilitate clear, timely, and efficient communication to keep your project on track and ensure everyone is on the same page.

    How to choose the best web development agency

    Now that we’ve gone over what to look for and how an agency can help your startup, let’s break down the process of finding a top agency step by step. 

    1. Define your needs

    Before you even start looking for a web development company, it's important that you first define your needs. What kind of website do you need? What features does it need to include? What digital applications would you like? 

    By answering these questions upfront, you'll be able to narrow down your options and save yourself a lot of time in the long run.

    2. Make a budget

    It’s important to have a budget before your search. You don’t want to end up overshooting your budget accidentally. 

    But, this can be tricky, especially if it's your first web development project. Generally, web development companies use one of a few different pricing models. The most common models are:

    • Fixed price: Here, the agency will provide a quote for the entire project upfront, based on your specific requirements and the estimated time and resources needed to complete the work. 

    • Time and materials: The web development company will charge an hourly rate for their work based on the time and resources needed to complete the project. 

    • Value-based pricing: Under this model, the web development company will set the price based on the project's expected value to the client. 

    For any model, you should expect to pay anywhere from $10,000 to $30,000 or more for larger sites or additional functionalities. 

    You should also be aware of any ongoing costs associated with your project. During building and after, you may have to pay hosting fees, maintenance fees, and the cost of any ongoing updates or modifications to the website.

    3. Do your research

    Research is imperative when it comes to finding the right web development company.This will give you a good idea of their work style and whether or not they’re a good fit for your project. 

    When choosing an agency, here are some key factors to consider: 

    • Their expertise: You wouldn’t ask a chef to build your house, unless they happened to be a construction expert. Likewise, you’ll want an agency that has the technical knowledge needed for your project. 

    • Their experience: Make sure to read through their portfolio thoroughly. Take note of their past projects to see if they have worked on projects similar to yours before. 

    • Their track record: Always read over the company’s online review. You don’t want to work with a company with bad communication or constant missed deadlines.

    • Their pricing: It's important to ensure that they're transparent about their pricing. The last thing you want is to be caught off-guard by hidden fees or unexpected costs down the line. 

    4. Test out their products

    Even after looking through an agency’s site, online reviews, and their portfolios, it may not be enough to assess the agency fully. For every agency wants to be seen as a great one. You should put their products to the test.

    This ensures you understand how user-friendly their products are, how appealing their design schemes are, and how much attention they would give to your startup. It also lets you see how well the products respond across platforms. 

    5. Prepare questions and hire a consultant 

    Before meeting an agency, you’ll want to prepare a list of questions to ensure the agency matches their resume. These questions should include both general and technical items.

    General Questions

    These questions will give you a better sense of the digital agency’s work ethic. This includes items regarding their capabilities, experiences, and overall process when working with startups.

    Some key questions to ask include: 

    • How do you approach web development projects?

    • What is your experience with similar projects?

    • How do you handle scope changes and unexpected challenges? 

    • What is your pricing model?

    • What ongoing support and maintenance do you offer? 

    • How do you communicate with clients during the project?

    • Can you share the profile of your developers? 

    • What metric should we use to ensure success on our project? 

    • What was your longest project? 

    Technical Questions 

    The technical questions, on the other hand, can be difficult. There are hundreds of frameworks, programming languages, and third-party apps to choose from. Unless you have thorough experience as a web developer, it is advisable to hire an expert who does. This will let you thoroughly assess an agency's technical knowledge so you can avoid problems later on. 

    Nonetheless, here are examples of technical questions: 

    • How do you ensure website quality? 

    • Can you explain the difference between a headless CMS and a traditional one like WordPress?

    • What hosting platforms would you recommend for my project? 

    6. Have face-to-face meetings (or video calls)  

    Once you've narrowed your options to a maximum of three, having a face-to-face meeting (or video call) with each web development company for startups on your shortlist is very helpful. 

    This will allow you to better understand their communication style and see if there's any chemistry between you. 

    It's also a good chance to ask more detailed questions about their product development process and get a feel for what it would be like working with them on an ongoing basis.  

    7. Get some references  

    Finally, before making your final decision, be sure to ask each company for references from past clients. This is one of the best ways to get an unbiased opinion of what it's really like developing apps or custom software with them. 

    Once you've gathered all this information, you'll be in a much better position to make an informed decision and choose the right web development company for your startup.

    8. Get some quotes 

    Once you've narrowed down your list of potential partners, you should reach out and get some quotes. 

    This will give you a better sense of each company's pricing and allow you to compare apples to apples when making your final decision.

    Closing thoughts

    All in all, keep the needs of your startup company always in mind. If you know what you need and what kind of service you require from a creative agency, you’ll surely find the best web development company to build your startup website.  

    While this can initially be tricky, we guarantee it’s more than worth the hassle.

    As a startup, you know having stellar digital experiences is important. Choosing the right web development agency allows you to have world-class websites, mobile experiences, and more from the get-go, letting you improve your business and your success statistics. 

    Here at Ikius, we set up startups, like yours, for success with our web development services. Our detailed approach ensures we have a thorough understanding of your business’s needs for today and the future. We’ll partner with you to create enterprise-grade products for your startup. 

    So, what are you waiting for? If you need a web development partner with a stellar track record, choose Ikius. Read more about our workflow and learn why we are the best agency for you.

    About Ikius

    Ikius is a team of Nordic professionals dedicated to creating the best digital products for clients all over the world.

    Learn more

    Do you need website development services?

    Ikius can help you implement and manage your web development project or application. We can build something from scratch or work with your devs to lend them an extra hand during implementation.

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    max@ikius.com

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