Can the traditional design and website development agency business model be innovated?

The traditional design and website development agency business model is relatively established. Your KPs are other creative and technical resources, your KAs are designing and development, your KR are talent, your VPs are creative work and websites, your CR is acquisition and retention, your CHs are your agency website and word of mouth, your R$ design and website payments and your C$ salaries.

Are there any ways in which this traditional model can be innovated?

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Hi Emile, 

In the Netherlands we have an example of a innovative approach for design development. It is a multi sided platform for designers and people/companies in need for design. It works like this. You can start a competition for the product that you need. You decide how much you want to spend and you pay that amount. The competition starts and designers can make designs that fits your need. Often you get over a hundred responses or more and very nice products and imput. You choose the best one out of all the designers that participated and that one gets paid. I think it's brilliant! 

Check (translation: design-for-money)  

I hope it can be of some use to you!

Hi Marthijn,

Thanks for the link, I'll definitely go check it out!

I actually speak Afrikaans, so I could decode that bit of Dutch in the title ;)

I've been thinking about this as well - just some thoughts:

The model Marthijn describes is used in a number of areas - most notably where designers bid for your work.

99designs was not well received by many designers as they felt that by creating a marketplace for design it lessened the value of their work.

The 99designs founder also recently invested $450k in a startup that makes changes to your existing website for a per-change-fee. Say you want some layout changed, a logo updated etc - they spec the work into $25 blocks, you choose the blocks you want and pay $25 per block - my understanding anyway).

The traditional website agency model faces challenges:

  • move away from the traditional page-based web
  • reality that consumers use apps and social media to get content/information
  • simpler design driven by mobile (simple does not mean its easier to design though)
  • new delivery channels/formats such as interactive magazines

The last one is interesting for certain types of business/content - imagine if you could get an interactive magazine into the Apple iOS newsstand app. There are some startups working on this approach as well.

If you place your list of items on the canvas you see a gap: Customer Segments

You should focus on a specific customer segment/s and understand their problems and develop a package that solves them. You value proposition will also be quite different and harder to replicate. 

Looking a your model some more:

  • VP - knowledge of trends/specific segments?
  • CR is not aquisition/retention - that is one of your KAs
  • CH you should be using other channels such as social media (appropriately - not just making a FB page) and adding this experience/knowledge to your KR

I think if you focus on CS and VP for a few days you will come up with something quite different.

Hi Johan 

I don't quite agree with your comment on CR not involving acquisition / retention. I believe more than anything else the CRM component is about the strategies the business uses to attract customers, generate revenues and retain those customers.

In your view what does fall under the area of CR?

CR does involve acquisition/retention however I see that as an activity for most (all?) businesses.

For CR in a web agency I'd look at the general ideas from BMG as a starting point:

  • Personal assistance
  • Dedicated Personal assistance
  • Self-Service
  • Automated Services
  • Communities
  • Co-creation

and then drill down. For example with web products/solutions automation is possible and even expected for certain products - instantly setting up blog or adding features to a site. For others you may want dedicated service - for example content creation.

Okay, I can certainly agree the items you mention are important. Where we differ is in the idea of action and strategy. Yes the activities may be reflected in your KA area, but the overall strategy should be included in CR, particularly for startups and for launching new products and services.

Types of assistance (as you note above) are part of the revenue generation and retention strategy elements. Communities may be part of the retention and referral strategies for how to grow the business. Co-creation may sit on its own depending on what you hope to get out of the co-creation and what it is intended to support.

Most of the difference in our views may attributable to a different layer of detail as reference for CR.

Good points - I think the differences in understanding/viewpoints would largely disappear if the VP and CS (which is empty) items are addressed in detail first.

This would move us from a very generic "web agency" to a more specific "web agency that solves these problem/delivers these services". 

Nice canvas.

I would also think that interaction with the website might be a differentiator for CR.


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