How to Safely Switch to a New Web Design Agency
Breakups are the worst!
Rarely does it matter who you’re ending things with. Whether it’s your significant other or your boss, parting ways can be awkward and accompanied by all sorts of emotions.
All breakups have one thing in common — all came after a period of good experiences. Your website design agency and yourself may have shared a positive business relationship, but anything can come to an end.
When it comes to severing ties with your website design agency, breaking up can be a little complicated.
For starters, you can lose your website and its content if things turn sour. In addition, your website design agency can make the sunsetting process a little more challenging if you aren’t careful yourself.
Anybody can terminate the services of an agency. However, only marketing managers worth their salt can do so with class and caution. In this article, we’ll fill you in on how to do just that and more.
So, stick around, put away the tissues, and read on before you change to a new website design agency!
Define Your “Why”
Now, we’d never recommend staying in an already exhausting relationship. Indeed, there are clear signs that it’s time to terminate the services of your website design agency.
Sometimes, it pays to take a step back, breathe, and evaluate the relationship. More specifically, ask yourself why you want to part ways with your website design agency.
A few hiccups here and there may not be good enough reasons to end things. These reasons, on the other hand, might be.
1. The Agency Is Stuck in the Stone Age
Building a new site has gone a long way since the 90s. Even several Content management system (CMS) platforms from the early 2000s seem obsolete to today’s no-code variety.
Has your agency been using the same platform for decades, or even half that time? Then, there’s a chance your site will miss out on innovations to build your online presence.
In truth, innovations in site development and design are popping up left and right. An agency worth its salt should jump on the opportunity to incorporate whatever useful innovations they have.
For most agencies, the limiting factor is the ability to adapt to change. If changing platforms or improving on them is too difficult for an agency, it may deem your interests as secondary.
The continued use of obsolete platforms, while mildly effective, may be a sign that it’s time to change things up. And, we don’t mean the platform, but your web design agency.
2. It Seems They’ve Got Too Much on Their Plate
Yes, it’s possible for your web agency to cheat on you.
Kidding aside, a web agency that’s got a lot of clients on board isn’t always something to admire. In fact, when it comes to your website, it might be bad news.
Few will deny that getting overloaded as an agency isn’t far-fetched or unlikely. But, when this happens, through nobody’s fault, some projects will fall by the wayside.
In such scenarios, prioritization can be challenging for the company. If you’ve observed that your web agency is living up to its end of your contract, you can stick with it.
On the other hand, if you’ve learned that the agency has taken on many other projects concurrent to a drop in quality, it’s time to move on.
Once again, it’s all about proper prioritization and management. This conveniently brings us to the next red flag before switching web design agencies.
3. Poor Project Management
Web design agencies handle projects using a team-based approach.
For instance, one person handles communication with clients (that means you). Other people are responsible for web development (all that good technical stuff). And, certain people take care of your site layout and other on-page goodies like SEO.
You get the picture. Everybody from a single developer to a single designer in a web design agency plays a vital role that (hopefully) results in a quality website.
Have you noticed your site failing to match your expectations? It’s a sign that whoever is on top doesn’t have a handle on your project. Also, poor communication is a sign that your account or project isn’t getting the bandwidth it deserves and you want to make sure you get all the tools your website provider could give you!
4. “Changing of the Guard”
If you’ve been with your web agency for a while, you’ll have been used to how it operates. You’re familiarity with the agency will have led to ties. And, the formed business relationships can contribute to your web design projects being done with ease and quality.
But, what if there’s a change in management? Granted, changes can be positive. Be that as it may, firms that undergo management shifts often experience transition periods.
Now, transition periods aren’t necessarily bad. Then again, can you really expect the same company to deliver the same results during this period?
As a site owner, you would be better off assuming that it won’t. Nor will your relationship be 100% consistent with what you’ve been accustomed to.
In short, while a change in management isn’t in itself good or bad, it may be a sign that you need to switch agencies.
Addressing Your Concerns With Your Agency
Even if things are heading South with your web agency, abruptly cutting ties is not a good idea. That said, before ending things with your web agency, it may be worth having a chat over your concerns.
Patching things up — whether it’s your relationship or your site — beats going through the hassle of an agency switch. If you’ve noticed any of the red flags in the earlier section, the talk would be an opportunity to bring them up.
If your web agency is sincere about upping its efforts, it will listen to your concerns. And, the agency will take your feedback seriously, using your input to improve all aspects of your site’s build.
For results, give your agency about 72 hours. Of course, you can agree on a time with your agency and check changes at the agreed-upon time.
On the other hand, if you see no effort made to improve your site as agreed, it may be time to begin the agency switching process.
Switching web design agencies is a process you need to handle with care. Parting ways on a sour note can lead to problems with your site and your access to it.
So, how do you safely make the switch? Here’s how!
Prepping for Your Breakup With Your Web Design Agency
So, now you’ve made up your mind to switch web design agencies. Here are the ways to change web design agencies without all the hassles and risks that come with abrupt switches.
We begin with a step you may have already considered — both with a new agency or in dating:
1. Start Looking for Someone New
Before switching agencies, you want to make sure you have options once the sunsetting process finishes. For this reason, you need to have a list of web design agencies you can go with once you’ve terminated your contract with your provider.
The challenge of seeking new agencies is the review process. By review, we mean establishing early if the agency will be a right fit for your goals and your site’s objectives.
There are two ways you can go about this. Both are equally effective. You can do any or all of the following when shopping around:
Ask for referrals: This is where your professional network comes in. Consult with your network and ask if they’ve had any experiences with other web design agencies. List agencies your network gives favorable accounts of, and consider accordingly.
Reference 3rd-Party Review Sites: Clutch and Design Rush are your best friends here. These are industry websites that provide online reviews that rate and rank web design firms on their success. The lists on these sites are an absolute goldmine of a database for web design agencies worth your time, attention, and marketing budget.
2. Get Access to All Digital Properties
Your digital properties are the items that grant you access to your site. Any web agency worth its salt needs to provide these to you with no hesitation. After all, it’s your site.
You need to get access to at least:
- Your site’s web hosting service
- Domain registration
- The CMS platform your site was built with (e.g., WordPress, Wix, Canva, Joomla, Drupal)
- Plugins or extensions that require sign in details (e.g., Divi if the site was built using WordPress)
- Social media links or associated accounts
- Email addresses
- Access to Google Adwords. Google Analytics, and Google Search Console
- SEO tools or extensions like Yoast or SEMRush
Gathering all of these will allow you to perform the next step:
3. Make Backups
Using your access to the front and back end of your site, you can begin making backups. You can do this yourself, of course. However, if you’ve already found a web design agency, you can allow them to create site backups.
Having “The Talk”
Preparing to switch agencies is a crucial step. But, it’s only step one.
Nobody likes getting ghosted. So, if you’re to handle the sunsetting process with class and care, you’ll have to have “the talk” with your web design agency.
Like breaking up with who used to be your better half, try to do this in person. Of course, if quarantine restrictions are still up as you’re reading this, you can do this on a video call.
You should bring up why you’re terminating their services and cap things off with a handshake and best wishes.
Once you’ve gotten the necessary pleasantries out of the way, you can now bring up the transition date.
Setting Up the Transition Date
This step is a must for the proper handover to be done. Setting a specific date when the change over should be happening will allow your old team to ramp down and the new team to ramp up.
It would also be best practice to get the old team to provide any written technical documentation they can. Things to focus on would be:
- Key dependencies of the current website
- Instructions on how to manage any custom modules/code
- Instructions on how to manage non-obvious content on the site
- Content Management System or plugins used and whether or not these incur periodical costs
A clear transition date will also allow both parties (you and your web design agency) to give their respective teams a heads up. This reduces any confusion that might occur in regard to workflow.
By the date of transition, no accessibility should remain with your old web design agency. All should be in your possession. And, of course, your new web design agency should have exclusive access.
Parting ways with your web design agency is very much like a break up in more ways than one — it’s never easy. It comes with a lot of uncertainty. And, feelings are bound to be hurt.
By managing the severing of ties, you’ll be making life easier for yourself and your web design agency. Do so with the utmost sense of decency and professionalism and you can prevent risks and losses to your website.