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Choosing the right Sanity CMS Agency

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Are you looking for your next project? Already know what you want? A fresh new Sanity CMS powered website...

But how do you know what the right agency is for you? We go through some top tips to find out what you should be looking for, and some red flags to know if things are awry.

Define your project and budget

Clearly articulate the goals, scope, and budget for your project. This will help you narrow down potential agencies and ensure that you're considering options that are a good fit for your needs.

If we were to write a brief, we would start with the most specialised and tricky subjects to try and get a handle on budget. E.g if you know you want a multi-step authoring process, that's where a lot of time and money will be used - so write down the most important (and complicated) features to you.

If you want a quick ballpark estimate, most agencies will require approx £6k+ budget as a bare minimum. Some require far more, and the odd freelancer may be able to work with less than that. If you're looking at getting yourself out there on the web and don't really have that much of a budget, we've written an article with the price points & caveats here.

Research potential agencies

Look for agencies that have experience in your industry and a track record of delivering successful projects. You can use search engines, online directories, and industry associations to find potential options.

There are a few important things to remember (we must stress this is in our opinion)

  1. Always opt for specialist instead of Jack of all trade agencies, as they typically output better work and because they're only working with a few technologies, they will know more about the limitations
  2. Be careful of agencies that are trying to push a specific technology because of the kickback they might get. Some agencies push a specific technology not because they believe in it, but because they get a £££ "signing on" fee for upselling you expensive tech, they don't believe in themselves. Needless to say, Roboto uses the same tech we implement for clients.
  3. Check they're up to date with the latest technologies. Throw a curveball. If you want a real doozie to ask, ask: "I've heard about React Server Components, what impact does that have on building JAMstack websites?" - that'll stump most people and also give you a good understanding as to whether the agency can give a laymen's understanding of more complex functionality.

Look for agency culture fit

This is arguably the most overlooked and one of the single most important factors in working with an agency. Choose somebody you like, because you're probably going to be spending the next 2 months+ communicating with them.

It's also worth mentioning that you want to ensure the person you are talking to, will be the project manager or a point of contact on the project.

Evaluate their technical skills

Look for agencies that have a strong technical team with experience in the technologies and frameworks that are relevant to your project. This will ensure that they have the skills and expertise needed to deliver a high-quality product.

As mentioned earlier, don't pick generic technology agencies - choose the one that you're most interested in. E.g don't get a Wordpress agency to build you a Headless Next.js website.

Communication

Communications is a huge part of success when picking an agency so ask about how you will communicate with the project manager or developers. Is it through Slack? Or do you operate with email? How often will we have catchup meetings?

Something that is extremely useful is preview environments - it may not strictly be communications but being able to see your website grow and having a feedback loop is essential to a high-quality product.

Negotiate budget

We always recommend being upfront with your budget for a web build, and it's a very simple reason why. An agency can give you a ballpark estimate to what you can build with a simple figure.

What's more important is what is and isn't possible. For example if somebody approached us with 40 unique pages they need building with a strict set of components for each - we wouldn't be able to achieve that with a £10k budget... However, if the designs are fairly homogenous and only the data is being changed, that's far easier with something like a page builder.

By being transparent about the budget an agency would be able to advise the best method of getting to the results that you want, even if it may be in a way that you hadn't initially thought of.

Check their portfolio

Look at the agency's portfolio to see examples of their work and get a sense of their design style and technical capabilities. We are conflicted a little bit about this, because we have a lot of NDA's ourselves and would love to share some of the more complex projects, but it can be tricky.

That being said, there should at least be some internal tools present, or something that they can point to, to say "look what we can do".

  1. Consider their process and communication: Choose an agency that has a well-defined project process and good communication practices. This will help ensure that your project stays on track and that you're informed about progress and any issues that arise.
  2. Get references: Ask the agency for references from past clients and follow up with them to get a sense of what it's like to work with the agency.
  3. Negotiate the contract: Once you've found an agency that seems like a good fit, negotiate the terms of the contract, including the budget, timeline, and any other details that are important to your project.

References

References are a great benchmark for understanding the pro's and con's of an agency. They provide insight into the quality of work and level of customer satisfaction that can be expected from the agency. A development agency with a strong track record of positive references is likely to be more reliable and trustworthy than one without any, or with mostly negative, references.

Additionally, speaking with previous clients can help to gauge the agency's communication and project management skills, as well as their ability to deliver on time and within budget.

Shameless self promotion

If you're looking for a Sanity agency, we are always interested in hearing about your spec, and what you would like to achieve. Get in touch if you would like us to give you some pointers, and an honest take on what makes a great Sanity project

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If you're interested in working with developers that pretty much live, breath and sleep Sanity, we're your team! Get in touch, and we can give you some advice for the best path to success.


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