5 Must-Have Tools for Web Design Agencies in 2021

5 Must-Have Tools for Web Design Agencies in 2021

Jan 14, 2021

From client relationships and design projects to invoices, running a web design agency in 2021 involves a lot of moving parts. And managing all of those tasks is challenging without the right set of tools.

Luckily, with thousands of software-as-a-service (SaaS) platforms out there, there is a solution to nearly every major task your agency deals with on a regular basis. In this post, we’ll unpack 5 necessary tools that every serious web design agency needs to succeed.

UX/UI Tools

Most obviously, web designers need user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) tools to streamline web design projects.

With UX/UI software, you can wireframe and prototype any type of design, including websites and mobile apps, in preparation for the development phase. Since most design tools in this category are built on a drag-and-drop interface, you don’t have to know how to code either. You can simply create an artistic rendering of the website by creating boxes, entering hex color codes, and pasting website copy into the design.

In many cases, the code for the website will actually appear along the sidebar as you build out the designs. This is incredibly useful during the development phase since you can share it directly with your front-end developers or publish it on the new site, yourself.

Here are a few of the most popular UX/UI design tools in 2021:

  • Sketch: designed for Mac users with the latest operating system
  • Adobe XD: built for macOS and Windows users
  • Figma: a cloud-based design tool
  • InVision: a cloud-based design tool

Project Management Tools

When you sign onto a web design project, you need to have tools in place to help your team keep everything straight. Wireframing, design prototyping, development, content writing - it all needs to happen seamlessly and in an organized fashion.

Project management (PM) tools make that possible by allowing you to map out project phases, tag individual team members to specific steps, and track the completion of each task. Using PM tools, you can create to-do lists, set deadlines, and plan meetings to check up on team progress. You can also view projects on both a big picture and granular level to make sure everything lines up nicely.

For most web design agencies, project management tools are a must, as balancing multiple projects and team member schedules takes a lot of coordination. Fortunately, there are quite a few solid SaaS project management tools out there, including:

Proposal & Contract Software

Before you can start designing anything, you need to sign an agreement with your clients regarding the scope, pricing, and timeline of the project. This means proposals and contracts, likely two of your least favorite work-related things.

By clearly listing out project deliverables, deadlines, pricing, and client responsibilities (i.e. client homework and approvals), these documents drastically decrease the likelihood of disputes and miscommunication. However, unless you have a connection with a lawyer who’d happily write up these forms for free, they can take a while to create from scratch.

That being said, there are a few tools you can use to propose and sign new contracts with your clients – and get both done faster and more easily than before:

  • Pandadoc: great for creating proposals and contracts and collecting eSignatures
  • DocuSign: helps you create and eSign NDAs, proposals, contracts, and more
  • Proposify: designed specifically for proposals

Communication Tools

Now that people are working more remotely, it’s more important than ever to have communication channels to chat about projects and strategize agency marketing campaigns and client accounts.

Using modern communication tools, you can share information instantaneously via SMS or IM tools or talk “face-to-face” using various video chat platforms. No matter your preference, here are some communication tools you can use to keep your team in touch:

Helpdesk Ticketing Software

Managing ongoing client projects requires more than project management software and graphic design tools. To keep track of change requests, website updates, and bug fixes, you need helpdesk ticketing software.

Helpdesks enable you to keep track of everything you need to do by tagging and organizing all incoming tickets by client and topic. And once a ticket has been logged into the system, the helpdesk continues to track changes made to the ticket and notifies both parties as commentary or work is submitted. Certain helpdesk tools can even help you track monthly retainer contract time, so you don’t end up doing any work you weren’t paid to do.

Whether you’re struggling to balance your current retainer contracts, or you want to take on your first web maintenance client, here are a few helpdesk tools you can use:

  • Sitechange: built exclusively for web design agencies with monthly retainer contracts
  • Zoho: a CRM that includes helpdesk features
  • Zendesk: a sales and customer support suite with helpdesk features
  • Groove: a complex helpdesk tool for teams

Choosing software for your business can be overwhelming. But, if you prioritize what you need and add your wants to a wishlist (to be integrated at a later date), you can create a successful infrastructure to support your agency.

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