Hiring a digital agency isn’t easy, and there are many potential pitfalls to look out for. My past as an in-house marketer for small businesses and startups means that I have extensive experience in the area of unmet expectations by digital agencies. Fixing HTML and CSS myself after an agency failed to pay attention to detail and required 24 hours to make any changes is not something I should have been tasked with, yet there I was. It is important not to fall trap to an agency which appears talented but is actually outsourcing for cheap, ineffective, and one-dimensional labor, so here are my top 6 tips for hiring an agency that will exceed your expectations. 1) Make sure they have a full-stack development team If it is a web team you need, make sure to hire a web team. There are countless “web design” company’s out there which have portfolio’s consisting mostly of business cards, letterheads, and logo’s. But that’s not what you’re looking for, is it? Maybe you are just looking for a redesigned front-end of a WordPress site, and that’s fine. But you never know what problems a design team is going to encounter along the way, so it is best to make sure the agency you hire has full knowledge of everything that goes into building a site from scratch. 2) Make sure their marketing experience goes beyond design and development Search Engine Optimization is incredibly important to making sure your site is visible in organic search, assuming you prefer not to shell out endlessly to Google AdWords for every lead. Imagine this — a web team builds you a wonderful site; it is both aesthetically beautiful and as functional as you could ever want. But there is no meta-data, no guidance on improving search rankings, and all of the pictures used don’t have any information to tell Google what they are. And the worst part? You have no idea that such a thing is even important in the first place, so it never gets fixed Avoid this scenario by making sure your web design agency will give you all of the necessary tools to succeed in search. Also, never believe anyone who tells you they will provide SEO services without asking specifically what steps they will take. . 3) Ask how they go about testing platforms before launch There is little more frustrating than thinking that you have a great web property, only to have users complain or to notice bugs yourself after the project is complete. Always ask the agency how they go about testing web platforms before calling the project complete, and what support they give for making tweaks to the site upon completion. A client should never be the one tasked with checking for bugs and oversights . 4) Ask the company for references This one is fairly self-explanatory, but just because a company has done work in the past, does not mean it was particularly good work or that the companies who they did projects for would vouch for them. Make sure to get a couple of references so that you can be sure you are working with a great team. . 5) Do not let their corporate website off the hook — for anything! If there is anything poorly done about their corporate website, you can be sure they won’t put too much time into building your website either. If you are considering a web design company and their site is outdated or feels incomplete, I would highly suggest moving on. . 6) Make sure the agency works to understand all client sales channels to best implement them An agency that doesn’t work to understand how you make money and how they can improve your sales via digital development is not really working for the benefit of the client. Working to improve conversions should be the main goal of the agency you hire — make sure they know that as well.