VidyaDrego_small[Posted by Vidya L. Drego]

I've spent the last few months immersed in the world of the Web design capabilities of interactive agencies. After all that work, finally, The Forrester Wave: Interactive Marketing Agencies — Web Design Capabilities, Q2, 2009 is live. Hurrah!!

For those of you that are unfamiliar with this report, this year's Web design Wave evaluates the Web design work of 18 large interactive agencies. We asked each agency to submit two reference Web sites which we evaluated using Forrester's Web Site and Brand Image Review methodologies. Yes, that means we reviewed 36 Web sites for both their usability and adherence to brand attributes. In addition, we reviewed 18 of their personas using Forrester's Persona Review methodology, reviewed their written responses to questions about their current offerings, design process, and market strategy, conducted 90-minute interview calls with each agency, and 30-minute calls with each of their two reference clients. This research took about five months of solid work by a small army to actually complete but it was well worth the time and effort because clients have already begun to use the research to influence their agency selection processes.

So why do we do all this work? Finding the right agency out of the thousands out there is a challenge even for the experienced marketer. The only way to really differentiate between the services they offer (and they'll all say they offer every service you need) is to actually evaluate the end product. Sure that doesn't take into account the objectives from the client, what it was like to actually work with the agency on a day-to-day basis, and the role the client played in the project (which are all also important), but it does a good job of taking services that are difficult to compare and providing objective criteria to evaluate the product of those services.

And that, folks, is the most powerful part of the Wave. The Wave model that you can use to assign weightings to different criteria and come up with your own customized view of the vendors is by far the most valuable part of the entire report (and ironically the least frequently accessed — I won't go into why I think that is). I encourage everyone who is interested in selecting an agency to download the tool (it's the Excel worksheet linked from the report) and customize it to your needs. Oh or you can talk to me and I can tell you how much work it is to evaluate 18 agencies and try to dissuade you at all costs from doing the same. Seriously though, I hope the Wave is useful to all of you. I'd love to hear your feedback!

Forrester clients can find the Wave here:The Forrester Wave: Interactive Marketing Agencies' — Web Design Capabilities, Q2 2009

Special thanks to Rachel Zinser, Steven Geller, Andrew McInnes, Will Chu, and Angela Beckers for all of their hard work!