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UX Agency Onboarding Checklist for Small Businesses

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UX Agency Onboarding Checklist for Small Businesses

Great UX design opens the door to many opportunities, especially for small businesses. Having a sophisticated and easy-to-navigate product is helpful for a lot of functions like marketing, branding, and sales. If you’re planning to hire a service provider to help, the vetting and onboarding process can be overwhelming. Continue reading this piece and we’ll break down our UX onboarding checklist.

To say that investing in user experience is only for big companies with greater budgets is a terrible mistake. The reality is that UX design can be a small business’s best friend. Not only does it help keep the average time spent on websites high, but it also supplements other functions and processes.

As business owners, seeing dull or stagnant metrics can be frustrating when assessing your websites’ performance. Investing in quality UX design ensures you improve critical KPIs such as bounce rates, conversion rates, and retention rates.

However, the entire process of finding, screening, and hiring a full-service agency can be foreign for small businesses that don’t have particular experience working with service providers. Some find the process troublesome because of the many tasks and things to consider.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll give you a detailed onboarding checklist to help you prepare everything you need.

In need of a reliable partner? Browse through The Manifest’s shortlist of the leading UX agencies and filter through different agencies with various backgrounds.

UX for Small Businesses

In today’s digital landscape, capturing your audience’s attention is hard. Businesses must now leverage their websites to gain market share, increase repeat sales, and improve overall brand loyalty. The challenge is browsers expect a lot from websites.

A vast majority of consumers, 88%, said they’re less likely to revisit a website with poor UX, emphasizing how impactful it is in order to provide a stellar customer journey. Bad UX can result in more losses, so businesses need to adjust to accommodate their customers online.

Reasons why browsers leave a website
Source: Goodfirms

Websites have less time to impress their browsers nowadays, and grave mistakes in UX design can be what ultimately deter them.

Customers are essentially the biggest critics to impress. Even if a product or service looks good, it might affect their purchase decision if they don’t like how the website responds. Still, even with that in mind, many small business owners doubt whether they should invest in UX.

If you’re still on the fence about focusing on UX design, just remember that neglecting it can ruin your brand’s image. Plenty of service providers can work within certain limitations and the benefits of UX design are too big to ignore

UX Agency Onboarding Checklist for Small Businesses 

Once you’ve decided that you need to hire a professional UX agency, the natural next steps are the evaluating, hiring, and inducting phases. Combining all three can be intimidating, so let’s break them down to help guide you through the process.

UX Agency Onboarding Checklist for Small Businesses

Evaluating Phase

Starting a productive partnership requires you to be a critic first and foremost. When evaluating service providers, you'll need a keen eye for detail as you check their work and do your due diligence. 

Here’s our checklist for this first phase:

  • Set criteria to help filter the options available
  • Browse through The Manifest or Clutch rankings for the top UX design agencies 
  • Assess their company profiles and descriptions to see their core services 
  • Check if they have experience working on similar projects as yours
  • Read the client reviews and ratings they’ve received
  • Check if their reviews mention recurring problems or issues with the vendor
  • Cross-check their references and credentials
  • See if they have certifications or are members of associations
  • Compare their portfolios and case studies against other agencies
  • Inquire for further details of the scope of their services
  • Ask more about their methodologies, workflows, and the tools they use
  • Do your due diligence and request/check the following:
    • Business license or permit
    • Documents or proof of tax compliance
    • Certificate of good standing
    • Insurance details
  • Confidentiality agreement or non-disclosure agreement (NDA)
  • Request for a proposal if they fit the criteria you’ve set
  • If you’re still having a hard time determining which service provider to partner with, reach out to The Manifest’s team for a consultation

During this stage, you must also understand the basics of user experience. Business owners that hop into a consultation without the slightest knowledge of the common services are prone to falling for vendors that oversell their services.

Additionally, you should carefully consider the budget you’ve set. Don’t overspend beyond your restrictions; just find a reliable partner that can work within your limitations.

Not sure how to prepare a budget? Read this “How to Create a UX Design Budget [With Template]

Hiring Phase

After you’ve completed the first phase and you feel confident about the service provider you found, the next important step is to officially hire them. In this phase, you’re also required to stay on your feet and be meticulous about every other detail, especially before you ink the contract.

This is our checklist for this phase:

  • Book an appointment or contact the agency to request the proposal 
  • In case needed, take your time negotiating the terms and pricing
  • Read the contract before signing it and review the following:
    • Standard terms and conditions
    • Clear and unambiguous language
    • Well-defined responsibilities for both parties
    • Fair indemnification and dispute resolution clauses
    • Well-structured and clear payment terms
    • Clear project benchmarks and metrics
    • Defined expected milestones and deliverables
    • Comprehensible exit clause 
    • Transparent renewal or retention provisions
  • If you have any concerns about the contract, consult a lawyer
  • Take a moment to discuss the project and contract with the rest of your leadership team or co-owners
  • Sign the contract

Contract reviews are crucial to protecting your small business from any unfair legal and financial risks. One of the biggest mistakes small business owners can make is to be easily swayed by the initial discussions they’ve had with service providers.

It’s important to conduct a thorough review of the contract they’ve sent, especially if it looks like another template contract.

After you’ve signed the contract, agencies typically introduce the main point of contact you’ll be working closely with from there on; they may be an account manager or a project leader. This person will be in charge of handling any notifications from your end such as phone calls, inquiries, and follow-ups. Make sure you secure their contact information to seamlessly transition to the last phase.

Inducting Phase

Signed contracts don’t mean that you don’t have to do anything else. You’re getting closer to just sitting back and letting them do their job though. Before that, you just need to complete the last phase. The inducting phase can be the busiest on your end but it’s also the most crucial to setting the tone of your partnership.

Complete this last checklist template for the inducting phase:

  • Meet with your team to assign responsibilities, i.e.:
    • Who will be the vendor’s main contact aside from you
    • Who will monitor the KPIs
    • If you’re also working with a marketing agency, make sure to include them
  • Create a presentation for the kickoff call that includes the following slides:
    • Introduction to your small business
    • FAQs about your business
    • Introduction to the UX agency
    • FAQs about the agency
    • Project outline
    • Project scope
    • Project objectives
    • Expected milestones and deliverables
    • Regular workflows
    • The responsibilities of both parties
    • Target milestones and ideal timelines
  • Discuss the optimal schedule and cadence for holding check-in meetings
  • Prepare a document with the contact details of every team member involved in the project for easy access e.i:
    • Phone numbers
    • Email addresses 
    • Work IDs
  • Create a spreadsheet with CRM login access and information
  • Select the communication tool or platform you will use i.e. Slack, Google Chats, and Skype
  • Decide which project management tool/s will be used for the project i.e. Trello or Asana
  • Send out welcome emails to their team and invite everyone to the kickoff meeting
  • Conduct the kickoff meeting
  • Prepare an exit strategy

Most of those without proper experience working with service providers might wonder why preparing an exit strategy is important even as soon as a project starts. The simple answer is that exit strategies are crucial blueprints that will protect your business from unfair risks in worst-case scenarios. No one wants your projects to fail but no one can also predict what happens in the future.

Customers Expect Good UX

In a study conducted by UX Planet, it was found that focusing on user experience helps drive solid return on investment (ROI). For every dollar spent improving UX, businesses generally see a $10 to $100 return. Good UX is a must-have if you want to thrive in the online marketplace.

The onboarding experience you give your chosen UX partner gives them a crucial first impression of your organization and sets the tone for your working relationship. Making sure they have everything they need for their first day can help them immediately start their work.

You now know everything your need to give an effective onboarding experience. Get in touch with the leading UX agencies on The Manifest for your project.

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