Experience Endless Design & Development at Just $3900/m.
Learn More
June 19, 2022

How to Build a DOPE Web Design Agency Team


In today's video I'm focusing on these six steps to building a dope web design team, let's go ahead and dive in y'all!

1. The Essential Roles

Now if you're starting out and your agencies on the smaller side there's a few things you want to focus your efforts on one you want to focus on designers and developers. These are the key roles and the people that are going to be facilitating the majority of the work that you do. Now with us as a branding and web design and development agency those are our core services. So we look for UI/UX designers that are talented that can do amazing work and that can leverage tools like Figma. So, first role is of course designer, now there are two kind of avenues for designers one is a branding designer they more focus on logo, typography, visual layout, design and overall looking feel of the platform and things that you're working on with clients so they'll work more so on the Branding side.

If you think about McDonald for example, they're doing the color palette, the golden arches, all that good stuff then you have on the UI/UX design side where these designers focus on the overall looking feel of the website so they'll take the things from a branding individual or a brand designer. Take those elements, organize them into beautiful layouts on a website that can focus on the three core breakpoints which are desktop, mobile and tablet so they'll be designing these out. Now in some cases you can get a unicorn. Now unicorns are rare and they can have skills in both the branding design and UI/UX avenue. More so these folks might be costly so you might want to segment this role into branding and UI/UX designer. But ultimately as you start out, you might be doing some of the work yourself, so think about designers. 

Next step you have developers, now at our agency we focus primarily on Webflow and Shopify building out websites on those platforms. So we like to look at talented Webflow designers that can both facilitate the development work, that know how to work inside of Figma so that they can transfer content and information to a Webflow website and that use Frameworks like client first or others to facilitate that work. And then developers on the Shopify side we look for folks that are really great at liquid that know how to develop websites from scratch and that can take our wireframes and take those things and make them beautiful functional websites that can perform for our clients. So we've talked about a few different roles. We talked about design and then we broke that into two segment brands, design and then UI/UX design for more so websites and then we talked about the different developers we have.

Now to organize all that you're going to most likely need a project manager. If you're starting out it might be you which is how I started when I launched my agency 10 years ago. But ultimately what you want to do is have a person that delegates the work to your team members. This person can be really detail oriented, someone that's an individual that's self-starting that works on their own time. They can also work asynchronously as well with your team and they're the ones that are sending your design and development team their tasks organizing your tasks in a platform like Trello, Clickup or notion and taking those and delegating those to the team. Now with this framework this kind of takes you out of the day-to-day so you could focus on sales and getting more customers. 

The key part of this step is to really focus on diversity, skills and perspectives. With our team we're completely worldwide. We have a UI/UX designer in Uganda. We have team members in South America, here in the States and team members in the Philippines. This gives us a world view and a more broad view on how we see the world. So we can have really diverse beautiful designs with people from all walks of life that allows us to give us a unique selling proposition or USP against other agency owners. So if you're thinking about the essentials of your web design team, focus on these core roles as you grow and scale your business. Have designers split into branding and of course UI/UX developer which will focus on the core service or CMS that you offer. And then also someone to organize that like a project manager. Now as you grow even more, you can have a client manager, you can have an ops manager and I'll get into more detail and more videos then. But with these core folks you can do a lot of damage in this space in regards to getting clients and doing awesome work. 

2. Recruitment Strategy

Now step two, we're talking about recruitment strategies. Where I find the most talented designers and Developers are two places. One, the Twitter sphere. There are so many amazing designers and developers on Twitter that do phenomenal work. And you can see a showcase of their work just by going through their tweets. A lot of people follow the show your work framework, meaning they're showing the process of their work. They're showing progress shots and you can get to see their process and how they build out these things that they're working on. The second piece is Upwork. Upwork probably has the most phenomenal designers and developers in the space. Only nuance or difficulty with Upwork is that sometimes you have to dive deep to find really great talent. So the best way to go through that process is the following:

Create a detailed criteria of what you're looking for in that role. What I like to do is do micro hires so let me give you an example. Let's say we're doing a design project for a client and we're at the wireframe stage. What I'll do is I'll go into Upwork and I'll go ahead and submit an Upwork request to say “hey this is the job we're looking to fulfill”. Then I'll hire two to three designers to do one page of that wireframe that way I'm spending a smaller amount of money, I'm not spending an exorb amount to hire someone. And I'll hire two to three designers at the same time to have them all design the same page. Now keep in mind you're going to have to spend a little bit of money up front to find awesome talent and that's okay, because once you do you'll be locked in with that person for years to come. 

Now once you have those two to three people in mind, send them all the same project, a smaller project and pay them accordingly. Now watch their process. Look at how long they take to complete the wireframe. Look at the questions they ask. Their overall design structure. Are they using Figma as it's intended? Or are they cutting corners? Are they quick and responsive or do they take a long time to talk back to you. This is a great way to vet them out in real time, without bringing someone in that's working 20, 30, 40 hours a week. You're bringing them in on a project basis that can grow to something more exponential. The great thing with us is we are a little bit unorthodox. Essentially I'm the only full-time employee at our agency, but we have 10 other team members. 

This is mainly because all of our team members are independent contractors. In other words, they work on their own time. Some of them work 5 hours a week, some of them work 20, some of them work 30 and they either get paid an hourly rate or they get a project basis based on what they have an affinity toward and what they prefer. This works out well for us because we're able to scale the ebbs and flows of agency work. So if we get a ton of clients, great, we can hire and have our team on the back burner ready to go. If we don't then we can navigate those ebbs and flows being an agency owner. This is a great way to work with high level talent, where they paid and compensated really well and you can work with awesome folks on a basis where you can navigate those ebbs and flows of running an agency. 

Also look for folks with a cultural fit. I am a huge anime nerd and comic book guy so I insert gifs, I make it fun, I make it engaging. A lot of the folks that work on our team have the same interests, so we have actually have a fun channel on Slack where we share updates and things going on in our lives that really helps the overall dynamic. As you all know when you work remote you can sometimes work in a silo. It feels kind of lonely even though you have a team, even though you have folks around you, you're still in an office or space by yourself. This helps us navigate that and and really work and collaborate a sync with our team members. 

3. Fostering a collaborative and creative environment

Now three, is fostering a collaborative and creative environment. The best way to do this is to work with a diverse team. When you work with people from all walks of life you're always getting fresh new ideas that are nuanced by culture, by affinity toward ethnicity. There's so many different diverse ideas and thoughts that having a diverse team has. In regards to tools of collaboration and creativity we use a few things. One, we use slack for all of our communication. That's how we chat, that's how we talk, that's how we communicate in real time. Two, we use a project management system.

This is preferred, we like ClickUp but some agencies use notion, use asana. You need to have a centralized database to control and manage all of your jobs and tasks for your clients. That is crucial! And you have to make sure that your team is abiding by those rules. That's why one of the main hires I always prefer is a project manager to help manage and mitigate any issues you might have as an agency.

Lastly we have systems or SOP. Now what we like to do is have a standard operating procedure for everything that we do in the business. This takes time to create, so don't worry about doing everything upfront. The main reason we do this is to have a repository of step-by-step directions on how everything in the business is conducted and everyone can contribute to it. So for example when we do quality assurance or a website development is done and we need to just review it to make sure everything is good to go, to go live we have a checklist. Set up Google analytics, set up Microsoft Clarity, make sure that there are no issues or 404 errors on the page.

And we have that list and we actually dedicate that to one specific role, the quality assurance manager. That person all they do is they go into websites to make sure that everything is functioning well. Now if you're growing and you're developing as an agency you might not be able to hire that person full-time or even part-time. But you can hire them on an hourly rate using a platform like Upwork. That way they work on a specific project they're done and they can move on to the next one. I'm always about continuous Learning and Development so we actually have a $500 stipend for all of our team members for training, for courses and we have memberships on websites like Coursera in case anyone wants to acquire and learn new skills. 

4. Managing Projects and Workflow

Step four is managing projects and workflow. I alluded to this a little bit in the last step where we have to have a project management platform to help manage all of our work. When it comes to methodology, we break all of our projects into segments. So let me kind of break it down for you. We have brand Discovery with the client. We have design right, we have sitemap, we have wireframe design coz we skip lowFi and midFi we go straight into High Fidelity after we create the sitemap and then we have quality assurance and launch. So essentially six steps as a part of that process. Then with those six steps we have subtasks in each one that break down the things that we need to do to get the job done for our clients. Now the best way to effectively delegate task and manage timelines are the following.

Again I talked about those six steps have those subtasks and then have those all assigned to an individual with date stamps on all of those tasks. You can use a tool like click up to accomplish this. It's pretty simple, you just jump in, you add a date, you add an assignee and now entire team members can see all the tasks and items that they need to work on. The last piece and importance is quality assurance. When it comes to web design and development you need to make sure that you have a list of quality assurance items that can go through. That way when that site goes live there aren't any issues there aren't any mistakes and you can follow these steps each time without break.

5. Building a brand in client relationships

Step five is building a brand and client relationships. What we like to do is have a one page brand guideline document, which showcases how we like our font used, our typography, color palette or overall voice, all the items that coincide with the brand and we share that on a common dock so everyone can access it. Main reason being is because it acts as a catalyst for anyone sharing our content across the board. Just creates consistency and anytime someone sees that color palette or sees that design they know that our agency did it. In regards to maintaining great relationships with clients there's a few things that we do. One, overshare any updates or things that we have we share it on the DOT.

That means via email, via slack, we share any updates in real time and ask for feedback. Whether that's using Figma or other tools like figma and others, to be able to garner feedback and comments. Usually we do that in batched form, so essentially this is how it works. If we do a wireframe for a client, we send that over to them and ask them to bash their comments. Meaning, they work with their team members over the course of three, four, five days, they’ll add all their comments and feedback at once and then we complete those tasks. Then we send it over over one more time and then they do the same thing. So we do two rounds of revisions with batched comments that helps us mitigate any issues and helps us keep the project within the original timeline.

Then what we like to do with clients is every Friday we'll send a quick recap. That recap will have everything that work is going on, what we're working on, what's completed and what we're going to work on the following week. It's just a really great update for clients because it gives them reassurance that we're doing the right job, right? And that we're getting things done even if we don't make a ton of changes that week they can rely on that Friday email to know that we're doing our work and we're getting things done in accordance to the project. 

And then lastly we always encourage team members to contribute ideas and thoughts to our process. Main reason being is we want that diversity, we want that inclusion and we want to be able to say our team members are collaborating and working with us to make our agency better. One case in point Jay our client manager, he made a recommendation that we change our project management system, created a loom video he said this is the reason why and we took his word for it and it completely changed the trajectory of our workload and our project management as a whole. So I'm always open to possibilities and opportunities from other team members that can provide feedback. 

6. Retention and Team Growth

And then lastly, retention and team growth. The best way to retain talent on your team, a few ways. One have consistent work for them, two increase their pay incrementally. We usually do it per quarter. And then three, showcase your work to the world. Main reason being is if people see your work they're going to want to collaborate with you. I get tons of DM and messages from other designers, developers that love our work. That love the things that we do and want to work with us. They want to collab and they want to be able to leverage that work in their portfolio as well. It's a great way to recruit top talent when you do great work, great talent comes to you. 

We also discussed career path employee retention. A lot of our team members have been with us for three, four, five, six years consistently and it just shows on our website and all the platforms that we use. Lastly, I'm all about work life balance! I am a husband and father of two little ones and I'm all about that life work, life balance. That's why most of our work is completed asynchronously, mainly because team members work on their own time zones, they work on their own time, I am completely happy with that. If your prime time is 2:00 am to 5:00 am, do your thing. If you love working from the beach, hey do your thing! My thing is as long as tasks are completed and the time and they're hitting the due dates and we're making amazing projects and we're collaborating with clients, then I'm happy y'al!l

And that, is that y'all this is how you create an amazing dynamic for your team create and recruit dope team members for your web design and branding agency. If you have comments drop them below and if you enjoyed this video hit that like button and I will see y'all next Wednesday. Peace!

A web designer on laptop waving at computer

Ready to work together?

Let’s link up. Complete our quick form below to schedule a 30 minute consult with our team. We invite startups and businesses looking to collaborate to build their website with 5Four.  
Schedule A Consult