Digital Strategy | Technology Enablement

agencyQ is a full-service, award-winning digital transformation company in Washington, DC. By focusing on the intersection of technology, strategy, and design thinking, we deliver innovative digital experiences and technical applications that drive measurable impact.

We employ a deep understanding of the human-centered experience, in conjunction with the power of analytics and AI to create innovative websites and digital marketing campaigns that solve our clients’ largest challenges and achieve their loftiest goals.

For nearly 20 years we have providing strategic advisement for technical development, customer experience, and digital marketing to clients across the commercial, non-profit, and government sectors; including Fortune 500 clients and high-profile government agencies.

Through our collaborative process, agencyQ has helped clients such as Hewlett Packard Enterprise, The Department of Energy, and Takeda Pharmaceuticals solve their most complicated digital engagement challenges.

 
$25,000+
 
$150 - $199 / hr
 
10 - 49
 Founded
1999
Show all +
Washington, DC
headquarters

Portfolio

Key clients: 

Space Telescope Science Institute, National Cherry Blossom Festival, Department of Energy, Ulmer & Berne, NIH, NOAA, NCARB, NSBA, American Farm Bureau, Earth Fare, CTIA, Council of Better Business Bureaus, CLASP

Reviews

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New Member Portal Dev for Non-Profit

“Their understanding, flexibility, and communication regarding difficult topics has really impressed us.”

Quality: 
4.5
Schedule: 
4.0
Cost: 
4.0
Willing to refer: 
4.5
The Project
 
Confidential
 
2011 - Ongoing
Project summary: 

agencyQ developed a REST API microservice to optimize an outdated membership verification system, and also created multiple IFrames that feed into one database. They continue to provide data security.

The Reviewer
 
50-201 Employees
 
Washington, DC
Assistant Director of Member Benefits, Non-Profit
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

There have been occasional lapses in communication throughout the six-year relationship, but overall, they provide adaptable and reliable services. They are honest about pricing, and always keep the best interest of the company in mind. They continue to be a valued partner.

A Clutch analyst personally interviewed this client over the phone. Below is an edited transcript.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

I’m the Assistant Director of Member Benefits at a large, membership-based nonprofit.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with agencyQ?

We have a MVS [membership verification system], which is basically a large file used to verify memberships with various benefit partners and partner companies. agencyQ was hired as the company our State Specific Bureaus wanted us to work with in making sure their data stayed secure.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

In 2011, we arranged with a company to build a MVS, but the engagement didn’t work out. We parted ways and began working with agencyQ, and after they familiarized themselves with the prior company’s system, then handled all modifications and data management thereafter. They act as technology consultants that manage the MVS, including development and data protection.

agencyQ has essentially helped us modernize that outdated and inflexible system, and by doing so, drastically improving our relationship. The old system relied on paper verification methods using PDFs, and it wasn’t a secure site. It acted as a front page for members to go to, and it was very rigid in terms of modifications and updates. agencyQ recommended a REST API microservice as a solution that communicates through the backend, and after they finished development, it’s been working wonderfully since.

We plan on transferring everything from the old system to the new in order to meet our goal of decentralizing member benefits packages. This would essentially allow the State Bureaus to use on their own websites instead of redirecting to ours.

We’re a grassroots organization, and we don’t actually interact with the State Bureaus’ members or their files. So, agencyQ not only provides data security from outside threats, but they’re also protecting it from us on behalf of the State Bureaus. With the old system, members had to come to our website that had all the listed benefits available from every State Bureau. This caused confusion, and exposed members to benefits they might not have access to.

agencyQ proposed that we create IFrames to remedy this, which is branded for each partner and fed into the same database. IFrames were ideal because they are simple, flexible, and displayable on the many browsers used by members located in rural areas with slower internet. agencyQ was originally working with a third-party marketing company for this project, so it took longer, but we ended up ending that engagement earlier in the year. Once I really started working directly with agencyQ, we were able to finish it in about two months.

Now, all State Bureaus have the IFrames on their websites, and we’re working to get rid of the central website. It went from getting about 20,000 visits a week, to getting maybe 500, so use has been cut down immensely. agencyQ has really worked with me to make sure our mission is accomplished, and so far, it’s been a big success.

In the future, we may redo the privacy agreements with the State Bureaus, which would allow us to have more direct access to data. It is highly unlikely we will cease working with agencyQ in the near future, because we still need to host the data and be able to maintain the technology and coding. agencyQ has been there though all of this to help us keep the mission moving forward.

What is the team dynamic?

I’ve been in this department for about three years, but we began interacting with agencyQ about six years ago. There have been many staffing changes both on their end and ours. I became the full-time daily manager of the relationship with agencyQ about a year ago.

I mainly interact with Matt [Digital Producer, agencyQ], who has been our direct project manager for the last year or so. We’ve had some others before him, but for a while, we didn’t have a manager, so Sean [President & COO, agencyQ] was our main contact. Now, if Matt is not available to me, I still feel comfortable sending Sean an email.

We’ve had at least one technical coder, and, depending on the project, we have anywhere from 5–6 higher level and non-technical staff. I’ve also frequently worked with Michael [Technical Director, agencyQ], and we probably have more technical people on the backend that I’m not aware of. I imagine our big rebuild required their highest level of staff involvement thus far.

How did you come to work with agencyQ?

One of our former staffers in our IT department used to work for agencyQ.

What is the status of this engagement?

We started working together in 2011, and the relationship is ongoing.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement?

Overall, my boss and I have been very happy with our relationship. The person who held my position previously had projected her feelings onto the relationships of not only our benefit and consultant partners, but also with agencyQ. We were under the impression that many of the people working with us didn’t like us, and thought we were a nuisance. After I took over the position, we had a meeting with Matt and Sean of agencyQ where they informed us that they were actually very happy working with us. We reset our relationship, and we’ve had very few complaints since.

How did agencyQ perform from a project management standpoint?

Matt is very prompt, and if he causes a lapse in scheduling, he always apologizes and takes the blame. We have an open channel of communication, and he always responds to me quickly. I have a very good working relationship with them because they offer transparency and always keep our best interest in mind.

During the REST API microservice development, they actually ended up beating all of their own goals and deadlines. They needed to provide our other partner with access so they could start testing, even though it wasn’t in production. The only breakdown we experienced was during the final production. From a project management perspective, I have no complaints. They do a very good job and they deliver what they promise.

I’m able to access JIRA to address specific tickets, and most of the time, they acknowledge them right away. If it’s a small item, it’s generally taken care of quickly.

What did you find most impressive about them?

I’m not a technical person, so I can’t really comment on their coding abilities. However, I do know that their responsiveness and attempt to satisfy us has been very impressive.

For example, we recently enacted a six-month retainer with them, and each time, it’s come back up for renewal or renegotiation. They really make sure the updated retainer contracts best meet our current situation and resource needs, and they always explain why they can’t implement certain things for us. We ended up with a very favorable retainer, even though we ended up not using any of the backout cancellation clauses. Now, where we have two systems, but are also trying to cut maintenance costs, they’ve given us another favorable retainer that allows for resource flexibility.

They’ve also been really good about explaining things, and they’re honest with us instead of trying to make a profit. Their understanding, flexibility, and communication regarding difficult topics has really impressed us.

Are there any areas they could improve?

There have been a few times in the last year where we’ve had confusion regarding expectations due to miscommunication. For example, when the previous employee was managing the relationship with agencyQ, they failed to communicate to her that there was a cheaper option for a website portal. A simple member file needed to be dropped into a Dropbox file so people could download it, but agencyQ built a complex portal instead. They failed to communicate to the previous project manager that other options were available.

Recently, we had a lapse in communication regarding a timeline. We’d informed Matt of our intended public launch date, and he thought this meant the day in which they should start testing the system. After some level of coercion on my part, Matt ended up being able to shift some staff resources to perform testing a couple days before launch, and it ended up working well.

Overall, the expectations have been missed a couple times, but they’ve been quick in finding solutions. It hasn’t seemed to negatively affect the relationship, other than causing both parties to experience some anxiety.

4.5
Overall Score
  • 4.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
    They’re good at meeting main deadlines, but some of the smaller things get missed. This isn’t really a criticism, because it can happen to anyone. When it’s pointed out to them, they respond quickly.
  • 4.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
    I don’t have much context outside of agencyQ, and there are probably cheaper companies, but they’re still a very solid partner. My head of IT was very pleased with the price of the REST API microservice.
  • 4.5 Quality
    Service & deliverables
    They are very good, but they aren’t perfect. We had some lapses in communication, but for the most part, I’m very happy with how they treat us and how we interact with them.
  • 4.5 NPS
    Willing to refer
    As long as they’re able to do what that friend or colleague needs, I can recommend agencyQ due to their transparency, honesty, and the cheerful relationship they offer.

Development Arm for PR and Communications Firm

"They have been a part of the best work that we have put forth as an agency.”

Quality: 
4.0
Schedule: 
4.0
Cost: 
4.0
Willing to refer: 
4.0
The Project
 
Confidential
 
2010 - Ongoing
Project summary: 

AgencyQ has contributed to over 25 significant projects. Their work ranges from strategic advisements to technical development and support for engagements in a variety of business sectors.

The Reviewer
 
1,001 - 5,000 Employees
 
United States
Senior Vice President, PR & Communications Firm
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

As an integrated member of the team, agencyQ is consistently a part of the most complex and important projects. They earned trust through their high-quality development resources, innovative approach to solving problems, and willingness to go above and beyond.

A Clutch analyst personally interviewed this client over the phone. Below is an edited transcript.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

I am the head of one of our offices in the United States, and I also head the project and account management department of my company. The company has a global presence and we do everything from social engagements and social listening to paid and website design and build engagements.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with agencyQ?

Many years ago, we had a number of contracts that were ending and we no longer had the volume of work where it made sense for us to have in-house development resources. We slowly phased out that type of work. As a result, we started our engagement with agencyQ, and they became our development partner. We continue to lead UX and design and we partner with them on build.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

The work we have done with agencyQ is pretty extensive. Together, we have launched more than 25 to 30 significant projects. In the last year, there's been 10 to 12 significant projects with agencyQ that have all been responsive websites, optimized for mobile. The projects are varied, from microsites to work of a larger scope and complexity. AgencyQ is a go to partner for VIP clients and bigger projects. They help us solve client problems and execute the requirements that our teams put together.

We have a number of high profile clients with serious security concerns, and we need to define solutions that will protect them from hacking and other issues. AgencyQ has always been a trusted and valuable partner for us in this space as well.

What is the team dynamic?

The largest project that we've done involved 7 to 10 people on their side. There is usually ongoing interaction with leadership, and occasional in person team meetings as well. We've worked with them enough and know them well enough, that there's been times when we have been able to state our preferences as to who we would want to lead or be on the team for certain projects.

They are an integrated part of our team and we are comfortable with them being client facing. We trust them with access to our clients and they add value and help build our client relationships.

How did you come to work with agencyQ?

We have worked together for six or seven years. There have been other partners and companies and will continue to be others. We have always tried to ensure that we have a number of different options, whether it's based on the specific expertise or platform. There are also times in our business when one resource isn't necessarily enough, given the volume of work. We need to be fully scalable and flexible, but agencyQ has been one of the most consistent and most used of those partners for us.

What is the status of this engagement?

We began working together in 2010, and the partnership is ongoing.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement?

We’ve had good success working together. We've been able to break down barriers between our teams and operate as if we were one team. We don’t just simply send wireframes or designs to their development team and ask them to implement it. We really go through the entire lifecycle project as one team.

Software development and technology projects can be challenging and have unforeseen difficulties. AgencyQ has been a trusted resource for us, working on projects that are the most significant in terms of scope and complexity. They have been a part of the best work that we have put forth as an agency.

How did agencyQ perform from a project management standpoint?

We do everything we possibly can to stand by the commitments made to our clients. We bring agencyQ a good deal of business, but they have also invested in us and our clients. They go above and beyond as well, which is unique and not something we have experienced with a lot of our other partners.

What did you find most impressive about them?

They bring really solid development resources to the table. There are a number of people at agencyQ who are more in the creative technology space, where it's not just about design build, but it's also about using technology to solve problems. They do this very well and are a little bit more innovative in terms of those solutions. As previously mentioned, the security piece is something that they do very well, in addition to infrastructure and hosting.

Are there any areas they could improve?

We have had learnings from every significant project together, which is usually part of a post mortem. There's always things that we can improve. I think they are committed to the relationship and they have worked with us to continue to evolve and improve our collective work.

I wouldn't say that agencyQ is a small company, but scalability has been a pressure point at times. However, as they experience some growth, this has improved.

In addition, the timeliness of their communication has at times been a little inconsistent, and they could work to standardize this. However, these types of issues come up working with anyone and they have been responsive to feedback and worked with us to grow and evolve our partnership.

Advice for potential customers?

It’s all about the level of detail and making sure there has been due diligence, whether it is an estimate or detailing the project requirements. Additional questions and upfront homework can help you reduce the amount of pain over the long term.

4.0
Overall Score They have matured and evolved as an organization. We’ve integrated more across the board, working as one team. We will continue to work with them and count on them as a partner because there's a level of trust. AgencyQ is dedicated to our success.
  • 4.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
    I would give them a four because of the size of the organization and their ability to scale. We also have some pretty unrealistic timeframes and they generally do a good job of managing aggressive timelines.
  • 4.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
    I think they do pretty well in terms of value. We have worked with a number of offshore firms. Their cost might be a little lower, but agencyQ has consistently delivered a higher quality product and service than those firms.
  • 4.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
    Any bumps that we've had have been primarily due to either turnover, staffing or growing pains that they've experienced over the last couple of years.
  • 4.0 NPS
    Willing to refer

WordPress Implementation & Web Dev for Law Firm

"To have agencyQ as our digital business partner is just incredibly reassuring."

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
5.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$200,000 to $999,999
 
Apr. 2014 - Ongoing
Project summary: 

agencyQ began serving as the development team after a previous provider was unsatisfactory. They help implement and run a CMS on WordPress, as well as troubleshoot and improve design, UX, and analytics.

The Reviewer
 
201-500 Employees
 
Cleveland, Ohio
Alexis Dankovich
Director of Marketing, Ulmer & Berne LLP
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

agencyQ is flawless in the execution of various development and content management tasks. They’re highly responsive, and have an excellent partnership mentality and team dynamic. Their work has garnered positive feedback from target markets, and they’re overall personable and extremely reliable.

A Clutch analyst personally interviewed this client over the phone. Below is an edited transcript.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

I’m the director of marketing at Ulmer & Berne, which is primarily a corporate law firm.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with agencyQ?

We terminated a relationship with a previous digital provider. The CMS that we were using was of a particularly difficult nature, and we needed someone to inherit responsibility for rebuilding the site. We don’t have any staff members who have superior knowledge when it comes to websites. We needed something user friendly and adaptable so we could grow with it.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

They’ve helped us redesign our entire site. AgencyQ did a lot of troubleshooting for us using the existing structures. They helped guide us through selecting a new CMS and then migrated everything to WordPress, which is more mainstream and much easier to use. They are also coding custom features for us.

AgencyQ has been improving the system in countless ways. They work behind the scenes to help in ways I’m completely unaware of and any issues we encounter are quickly resolved. Most recently, we had a new attorney join the group, we merged his practice into our law firm. We essentially took an independent practitioner’s website, shut that down, and migrated the content into our website. AgencyQ had to build several new pages to ensure a seamless transition. Their team accomplished it at a rapid pace.

The older site had a lot of static content; it’s not necessarily the most interactive experience. AgencyQ has been wonderful at helping us take a lot of content and whittle that down into something much more manageable. They’ve simplified the user navigation and completely enhanced the search feature, which was critical to the new site.

What is the team dynamic?

For a while, it was all hands on deck, with their creative team and development team. At any given point, there were at least a half a dozen team members that were assisting with our migration, transition, and the overall site redesign. Meghan [VP, Strategic Accounts, agencyQ] is our primary contact. Colin [SVP of Technology/Strategy, agencyQ] oversees everything technical, from a development standpoint. They’ve both been there since day one

How did you come to work with agencyQ?

We sourced agencyQ because they had experience with the content management system we had.

How much have you invested with them?

At least $200,000 a year. It was higher during the actual site redesign.

What is the status of this engagement?

We’ve been working together since April 2014.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement?

Last year, we went through a rebranding effort. We changed our old logo, our colors, and refreshed our law firm’s public image. We’ve received countless positive comments from our existing clients and even prospective ones. We never received design praise before. It isn’t often that a client would reach out to us and comment on our website. We know there are visitors going to our site and they were compelled enough to pick up the phone or send us an email and tell us how great things looked. There’s no better endorsement than that.

AgencyQ has also helped establish better tracking through Google Analytics. We now have transparency into where our referral traffic comes from and how long users spend on any given page. We know what pages are visited the most and out of them which specific ones are most critical in terms of updated content.

Another great example was when agency integrated the newer law firm’s content. They were able to identify several troubling analytic reports from the attorney’s old website and then mitigate some of those risks before bringing the content to our website.

Our own attorneys use our website to figure out who else in the firm does similar work. The areas of law in which we practice can have several different names. Because of that, we added a smart search feature to ensure attorneys could easily find what they needed without necessarily knowing the specifics. AgencyQ has helped us improve not only the accessibility for users within our firm and their ability to find things quickly, but also, and most importantly, visitors.

Compared to working with our previous vendor, the difference is absolutely night and day. I want to work with agencyQ well into the future; we need them as our long-term partner. It would be a terrible day for our firm if we weren’t working with them. Prior to agencyQ, we worked with two other digital firms. It’s been a complete 180 for us working with agencyQ. I can’t say enough great things about them.

How did agencyQ perform from a project management standpoint?

I’m on the phone with agencyQ or emailing them on a daily basis. They’re truly an agency partner. We also try to have at least one annual face-to-face meeting where we’ll spend an entire day talking about strategy, what’s on the horizon, and changes that are taking place within our firm. The working sessions are very productive.

What did you find most impressive about them?

They listen to us and try to grasp our unique needs. They listen to the challenges that we have and they help us meet those needs with creative solutions. They don’t push their own agenda, either. They introduce us to new ways of thinking and new approaches, but they do it in a way that’s palatable. I’ve worked with other agencies that are always pushing their own agendas and you feel forced to accept something. That’s never been an issue working with agencyQ.

They’re very good at problem-solving and resolving bugs, especially since they’re available 24/7. I know that sounds like an exaggeration, but it’s not. They take the time to interact with us even while they’re on vacation. I admit that we’re a demanding client in that we need a lot of hand holding. Nevertheless, they always seem to come through for us in a pinch and without much advance notice.

I also want to highlight how friendly they are. We share many of the same values and our corporate cultures align very well. They approach things with a great sense of humor, which is another appealing trait of theirs.

Last but not least, they’re extremely conscientious about staying within budget. They can always work within our limitations and manage to bring a superior product to the table. Our website is the single most important channel and way of presenting our firm to the public. To have agencyQ as our digital business partner is just incredibly reassuring. They basically help me do my job and they make me look good.

Any recommendations you might have for an inexperienced buyer before kicking off a project with a digital agency?

There’s always a honeymoon period in which you’re getting to know a new firm and everything is going well. My tip would be to make sure that the team that introduces the relationship, or those who start the relationship, are going to be the same ones on the project. I’ve worked with other firms in the past and while the “A” team might sell you on their firm, over the years you end up getting the “B” or even “C” team handling things day-to-day. This can make a huge difference if they aren’t of the same caliber of experience and client service orientation. With agencyQ, we’ve had the “A” team from the beginning and they’re still in place.

5.0
Overall Score I can only recall in my 30 years’ experience 1 agency that came close to them in terms of client service orientation. They are by all means the top of the top. I hope for years to come, I’ll have the an ongoing and friendly relationship with agencyQ.
  • 5.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
  • 5.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
    For the value that we receive from the work that they do, I’m surprised they don’t charge us more. I’m frugal when it comes to our budget as well.
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
    They are that good. They’re always exceeding my expectations, and I’m a tough grader.
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer
    I recommend agencyQ. They are the best.

Web Design & New CMS for Research Institute

"What I really love about agencyQ is that they listen."

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
4.0
Cost: 
4.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
Confidential
 
Feb. 2016 - Ongoing
Project summary: 

AgencyQ restructured and designed a legacy CMS, focusing on UX and rebranding. They collaborated with senior management and stakeholders, and helped integrate content APIs from a separate Ruby on Rails site.

The Reviewer
 
501-1,000 Employees
 
United States
Web Team Supervisor, Research Institute
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

AgencyQ is superior in how they appeal to different stakeholders’ needs while staying true to vision. They listen to and address concerns effectively. They take responsibility and put personal care into the project, and if issues do arise with communication, they’re responsive and accommodating.

A Clutch analyst personally interviewed this client over the phone. Below is an edited transcript.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there

I oversee a team of curators and web developers set within a public outreach office. Our team is responsible for creating websites, apps, and eBooks for a major space telescope facility and most of our current efforts are focused on outreach for an upcoming telescope launch.

Curators manage our different projects. We have a total of sixteen websites, although some sites are more static than others, without a lot of content changes. The curators guide the development of new websites and direct the redevelopment of existing ones.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with agencyQ?

Our main organizational website needs to be redone. The site was built in 2000, is enormous, and operates using a CMS [content management system] that is no longer supported and could collapse at any moment.

In past years, the outreach office had no oversight of the website; IT was responsible for updates but everyone in the organization could request anything for the site-- there was no real governance. There must have been, at some point, a site map or a structure for the website, but that’s long been lost.

We decided a better web presence is necessary for the organization, especially since we are about to launch a new telescope. The current site has some good content, but it’s not presented so that people can find it and web technologies have progressed far past what the old site is capable of. We knew we needed to go outside to do it because it was a huge project that needs a good UX/UI, and an outside professional view.

The current website is targeted toward the professional scientific community, but there are multiple audiences to be considered for the new site, especially the public. Essentially, we needed to redesign, rebuild, rebrand, and refocus the site to be more public-friendly while also retaining the information our scientific audience relies on.

Our human resources area also needs to be accentuated. We are currently recruiting quite a few engineers and scientists for the new project. On the current site, it is difficult to apply for a job because the website makes it unclear how to get through the system. The new site needed to make it easy for them to get through that process.

Another thing we were looking for was an agency partner who was experienced in analytics and could help us with our social media. We needed somebody who had a breadth of experience, but understood the importance of all those pieces linking together and could help us put together a social media strategy.  

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

We went through several brainstorming sessions. A project manager from the Institute oversees coordination between agencyQ and in-house teams to make sure the project receives the resources and commitment that’s needed. The agency presented to our senior leadership once we had decided on the site design direction. They presented our concept and, once we received approval from senior leadership, agencyQ started creating design mockups, initial page wireframes, and a site map--they pulled those pieces together.

The agency has come in several times to present for us. They’ll be coming in September when we do our first all-staff presentation—we’ll show the homepage, a representative top-level landing page, and answer questions about the overall site development progress. Throughout the process, agencyQ has been right there along with us.

We found early on that things work the best when the people who make the decisions meet face-to-face. We hash it out together and move on with implementing those decisions. Otherwise, you can go back and forth on email until you’re dead and buried.

We have worked very closely with agencyQ the whole time. The site map kept morphing based on internal discoveries and input. It took about six months to get the initial site map and then to decide on a color palette and a look and feel. Most of the pages and components are designed, at this point, and are being input into a CMS that is new to us and to agencyQ. 

Concurrent with creating the visual design and the site structure, including the UX and UI, we were doing audits of the present site and finding massive amounts of technical landfill—old content that needs to be dealt with. We are deciding what to keep, revise, archive, or delete. At the same time, the in-house team and agencyQ are working with stakeholders to make decisions about the new site. We’ll figure out what we need to keep from the past, but our focus is on what we need for the future.

We are not just taking this current site and putting a new face on it with a new CMS. The site is totally being restructured and new functionalities are being developed by agencyQ. Multiple dynamic components have been created. One example is the “drawers” that look like little bars. When you click on them, they expand to surface more content on the page.  That’s something we’re doing to accommodate a large amount of content in a small amount of space. The whole site is going to be responsive, and that’s new for us. We are pulling in news releases and images from a separate Ruby on Rails site through an API built to bring in the three most recent news releases. These will auto-update based on date. We’re also pulling a small image gallery on the homepage directly from the news center image galleries, are also in the Ruby on Rails application. In the human resources section, we will have rotating employee testimonials that can be easily updated manually through the CMS.

Dynamic components that can be reused throughout the site are being developed by agencyQ. These either auto-update or can be easily changed. The events section is complicated. On the current site, there is no central location for all events; they are all over the site and are difficult to find. We’re building an events section that has a summary page of all events by date with a short description. Events are tagged with a category for filtering and each event listed on the summary page links to a detail page with in-depth information as well as related assets, which can include numerous PDFs, PowerPoints, etc. The page will display all that content; if there is no content available in a certain area, it simply will not show.

Microsites are going to be nested within the scientific community section. We’re reworking things so they blend with the site, but the navigation schema will be different from the rest of the site—they aren’t secondary or tertiary pages and each microsite will have its own special landing page. They can send these links out to scientists or they can link scientists into it who are only concerned with one project.

We’re building in the CMS now and some of the pages are starting to be completed. We will be rolling out phase 1, which is the homepage and the top navigation landing pages toward the end of the calendar year or first quarter of 2018. We will build out on that core. The website must be up and running in 2018 to accommodate the new project at the Institute. Last year, we built a small, separate “starter site” for the new project. That small site will be integrated into the new organizational site. At first, the project leadership wanted to keep the small site design, but about two weeks ago they reviewed the new design for the larger site and they are now very happy to be on board with the site agency designed.

What is the team dynamic?

Our developers are working directly with the agency developers. The two development teams work together and have weekly sync-ups. Every now and then they get together face-to-face, but generally, they are in different locations. The agency developers send code to us and we iterate. There are 2-3 developers on the agency side. Krista [Open Source Web Developer, agencyQ] was leading the project to start with and she is working with Gretchen [Frontend Web Developer, agencyQ]. I believe Gretchen was involved from the beginning, but Krista is the lead. 

How did you come to work with agencyQ?

There are a lot of requirements when you work with the government; some companies back away from it simply because of that. Four out of 10 companies we reached out to submitted a bid, but agencyQ went through the process and won the RFP. They were the most compelling bid both in what they could do and in their perspective of the entire project.  Their viewpoint really synced up with what we thought we needed because they looked at the website holistically, both frontend and backend. We talked a lot about navigation and architecture, which is what I was really concerned about, along with redoing functionalities.  We also require ADA compliance, and agencyQ was on top of how to implement those elements.

How much have you invested with them?

I would like this to remain confidential.

What is the status of this engagement?

We started working together February 2016 and the work is still ongoing.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement?

We’ve gotten very good feedback for the presentations that agency has given, as well as the designs of the science pages, and the way agencyQ has thought through the scientific community, with our help of course. The design that has been created by agency appeals to the scientists’ intellect as well as their design sense. What I really love about agencyQ is that they listen. We can address people’s requests and real needs. That’s a good thing.

How did agencyQ perform from a project management standpoint?

We communicate by email, phone, and they often come to our location for meetings. We get together with agencyQ on a regular basis, both with stakeholders and with the main project team, which is about six people. They’re always very willing to come here because we accomplish a lot when we are face-to-face.    

What did you find most impressive about them?

Several years ago, I did a large website with agencyQ and was happy with the way that project turned out. The agency did design and architecture and helped us through the project with QA, inventory, and content. This project is extremely complex, with a large amount of legacy content and structure to redefine, and I felt they could do it.

Several months ago, there was a transition of some staff at agencyQ and we were a little worried that we weren’t going to get the attention we needed for our project. I called Meghan [VP of Production and Client Service, agencyQ] to talk it through and let her know we were worried. She was fabulous. She said, “We’ll come up there. We’re going to make sure we sit with you. We’re going to make sure we get everybody happy and on board and that this is moving along,” and she did. It made a huge difference in our comfort level for this complex project.

Are there any areas they could improve?

Sometimes things are not getting back and forth between the developers as cleanly as we’d like but we’ve brought it up and we’re going to meet with agencyQ to discuss it. What I like about way they work is--if you have an issue, you bring it up and you address it. That’s all you can ask for. We’ll figure it out this week so that our developers get what they need from their developers and vice versa. I’m confident it will be worked out to everyone’s satisfaction.

4.5
Overall Score Whenever there’s an issue, they’ll address it. That’s all I really ask for.
  • 4.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
    Nobody is perfect. I’m probably not going to give anybody a 5.
  • 4.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
    It’s good and in the ballpark I expected.
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
    They have totally hit it out of the park with their designs. Their code is what we’re trying to figure out. It’s hard to get 2 development teams working together when they’ve never worked on the same language before even. They’re working it out.
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer
    I would recommend them, definitely. I’ve had some bad experiences with agencies. This is wonderful.