Agency websites (part one). Don’t forget the people.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that as the internet has matured and our relationship with it transformed, the role of the agency website has shifted significantly.
No longer simply an online brochure or portfolio, an agency site can, and should perform as a (relatively) low-cost, living and breathing new business person. And yet, so many are failing to deliver as a new business tool.
I’m going to leave SEO alone for this post, needless to say, being found in search has never been more important but I’ll come back to that in another post. Likewise, I’m going to leave navigation, messaging, case studies and blogging – more (so much more) of that later.
For now I’d just like to focus on people. Because we are a people business. Ask most agency owners and they will tell you that most of their new business comes from their network, either as referrals from past or existing clients or suppliers and colleagues. And, whilst recommendations follow the delivery of good work, good work happens when there is a good relationship.
So why are so many agency sites completely omitting to talk about their people?
On too many sites, there is no indication of the founders or management team on the about us page, or worse, no-one’s name on the contact page.
Not very personal, not too welcoming. Remember you want to make it easy for people to buy from you. If I’m a new business prospect, I don’t really want to phone the switchboard and ask to speak to the person who deals with new business, or send an email to “whom it may concern” at a generic email address. And if I’ve been given your name by someone recommending you, I’d quite like to be able to see you appear somewhere on the agency website with contact email address or phone number.
My quick straw poll today has observed that PR agencies are better at this, with digital agencies are falling behind by some margin and design somewhere in the middle. There’s a full Gunpowder survey of agency sites in the making, with results available in the spring. Feel free to sign up for updates here.