I'm pleased to announce that "The Forrester Wave™: UK Interactive Agencies — Web Design Capabilities, Q1 2010", is now available to Forrester clients on the Forrester Web site.

This report is an evaluation of the Web design capabilities of leading UK design agencies: AKQA, Amaze, Detica, EMC Consulting, LBi, Reading Room, Sapient Interactive, VML London, and Wunderman. Putting this together took six months of effort by a hard-working team that included Harley Manning, Angela Beckers, Richard Gans, William Chu and Shelby Catino.  

In our research, we found that Detica and Sapient Interactive led the pack for transaction-led projects, due in large part to the high usability scores earned by the client reference sites they provided for evaluation. AKQA, EMC Consulting, LBi, Reading Room, and Wunderman were Strong Performers for transaction-led projects, with AKQA's exemplary Brand Image Review scores moving it into the Leaders' circle for image-led projects. Rounding out the field, Amaze showed strength in multilingual projects and image-led projects, while VML London earned top scores from both reference clients for the business results it produced. Both agencies came in as Contenders.

All nine vendors in this report have significant market presence and capabilities to service large clients. They are all ranked in the top 25 UK agencies by fee revenue (using data published by New Media Age).

What sets the Wave apart from other industry rankings and awards is the transparent, fact-based evaluation that underpins it. Forrester clients have the ability to look at detailed vendor scorecards and see what the strengths and weaknesses of each agency are.

To gather information on the strength of each vendor's current offering (represented on the vertical axis) and strategy (represented on the horizontal axis), we used the following methods:

– Web Site User Experience Reviews –

We used Forrester's standard Web Site User Experience Review methodology on two reference sites provided by each agency to see how well those sites support customer goals, as described by the agencies.

– Brand Image Reviews –

We used Forrester's standard Brand Image Review methodology on the same two reference sites from each agency to see how effectively the sites support the core brand attributes of the brands they represent.

– Persona Reviews –

We used Forrester's standard Persona Review methodology to evaluate the effectiveness of each agency's tools for user-centric design.

– Interviews with agencies –

First, we sent agencies a ten-page questionnaire to gather details on their capabilities, processes, heritage, strategy, vision for future technology and so on. Subsequently, we interviewed each agency to get a deep understanding of what differentiates them, what they're really good at and what's just hype.

– Interviews with clients –

We spoke with two clients from each agency to get a true picture of how well the agencies executed projects (within budget, on time, and delivering the expected business results). We also gaugued client satisfaction and got the client perspective on what it's like to work with the agencies.

When we brought all the scores together, we gave a heavy weighting to results from the Web Site User Experience Reviews of the agencies' Web sites. We also gave quite heavy weighting to the Brand Image Review scores. Why? Because those evaluations correspond directly to the thing that matters the most to clients — the online experiences that the sites deliver. It also helps that we know, from experience, how robust and reliable those evaluation methods are.

In the report, we present the findings in a simple graphic that ranks vendors as leaders, strong performers and contenders. However, the beauty of the Wave is that Forrester clients can delve deep into the model, identify the attributes that most matter in their situations and change the weightings to produce a customized ranking of the agencies.

I'm looking forward to discussing this research with Forrester clients in the coming weeks. I will also be writing further reports to share some of the findings that didn't make it into the Wave.