You are a boutique creative agency. You know the importance of digital media, so you promote your digital expertise. Like most agencies your size, you don’t have a highly qualified in-house technology strategist. Have you come close to a digital disaster for want of an expert?

At CurrentDesign, we have a proven ability to deliver interactive solutions with creative agencies. Here are four tips to avoid disasters that can result from attempting a project or campaign with inadequate digital expertise.

1. Invest in discovery

At the beginning a project or campaign, it is critical to spend time discovering what is to be delivered. In the absence of a reliable digital lead, an agency may rely on a marketing specialist or developer to represent the digital portion of an initiative. The representative lacks the strategic perspective and technology depth the client is seeking. Eager to proceed with the creative work, they neglect to thoroughly understand the client’s situation and technical details, and fail to clearly define the scope. As a result, they face significant mid-stream changes as the requirements become apparent. It can be costly to insert an unplanned feature, resulting in a late, over-budget delivery… and an unhappy client.

It is not possible to determine every detail, but the high level features are should be established upfront. In defining these features, it is essential to align with organizational goals. We’ve seen agencies deliver solutions that achieve notable Youtube views or Facebook likes. They consider the campaign a success, yet the activities had no measurable impact on the client’s business. The minor disaster is that it is inefficient to start development without discovering the features. The major disaster is failing to discover the features that solve client’s business needs.

Define measurable success criteria aligned with your client’s strategic goals, and specify features to achieve those criteria.

2. Obtain clear specifications

Agencies excel at defining the creative features of an initiative, but may be challenged by the web application: it is much more than its interface. When creating mockups, it is important to understand the content management system or underlying application that will deliver your beautiful pages. We have seen agencies propose separate English and French brochure sites, submit mockups that would require a different template for each page, and design pages that are elegant but impede the user. Having a digital expert gather technical specifications upfront allows you to implement more practical features, for example: multilingual sites, reusable templates, and user-centered experiences.

Obtain specifications up-front to avoid delivering impractical solutions.

3. Manage technical risk

Sometimes, a campaign can be the victim of its own success, generating enough traffic to overwhelm a web server, or attracting attention from hackers. When leading-edge design features are not mitigated with performance tuning and a well-matched server, a website can become painfully slow.

Involve technical expertise at the outset, to assess and mitigate risks.

4. Provide value-added opportunities

Your clients come to you to enhance their business. They expect you to know what they don’t, and to propose solutions they haven’t considered. Some agencies with limited digital expertise base their proposals on replicating their previous projects when they should be providing a unique solution.

Exceptional solutions begin by assessing opportunities using fundamental principles. Once the objectives are established, then you can consider appropriate technology to achieve them. To execute effectively, you will combine an intimate understanding of the client’s business with deep technical expertise. It is not the easy route, but the results will set you apart from your order-taking competitors.

Apply fundamental business principles to find opportunities beyond what the client is requesting.

In summary

Some agencies wait until a project or campaign has been finalized with the client before looking into the technical aspects of delivery. When you are able to involve appropriate digital expertise upfront, potential disasters are more easily avoided and you have the chance to uncover opportunities that may otherwise be missed. This is good for your business and great for your clients.

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