Critical Mass, AGENCY.COM and SBI.Razorfish stand out in a pack of 17 of the largest firms that design and build customer-facing Web sites, according to a new report from Forrester Research, Inc. (Nasdaq: FORR). Increased spending on eCommerce initiatives for 2004 prompted Forrester to evaluate these vendors using the Forrester Wave™ methodology. Agency capabilities were rated for two types of Web design engagements: transaction-led and image-led.

Transaction-Led Projects

Companies that hire vendors for this type of project seek to increase conversion rates and reduce service costs. Each agency submitted two reference sites to demonstrate their ability to achieve these objectives for clients. In this category, Forrester found that:

  • Critical Mass, AGENCY.COM and SBI.Razorfish clinched positions as Leaders by demonstrating exceptional user-centered design skills.
  • R/GA¿s unique strategy for meeting the needs of companies addressing broadband consumers pulled it into the Leaders’ circle, as well.

Image-Led Projects

Clients in this category seek standout creativity that builds their brands. Forrester graded each reference site’s copy, visual, and functional elements for consistency with client brand attributes and ability to differentiate the site. Analysis revealed that:

  • Scores for the top-rated transaction-led firms dropped slightly, but they stayed on top overall with strong reference site creativity.
  • Standout use of integrated visuals and function boosted Euro RSCG 4D from a Contender in the transaction-led engagements to a Strong Performer for image-led engagements.

Vendors Evaluated

  • Forrester evaluated 17 Web design agencies: AGENCY.COM, AKQA, connect@jwt, Critical Mass, Digitas, Euro RSCG 4D, Grey Interactive, iDeutsch, IBM Global Services, Modern Media, Molecular, Organic, R/GA, Sapient, SBI.Razorfish, VML, and Zentropy Partners.
  • Vendors were evaluated in three key areas — current offering, strategy, and market presence — based on 18 detailed criteria.
  • Forrester interviewed two reference clients from each vendor and then evaluated each site using its Web site review methodology.

While finding the right vendor depends on the nature of the project — transaction-led or image-led — all Web design agencies offer access to skilled resources with highly evolved project management practices. Agencies also provide in-depth research and analysis that produce highly detailed customer segmentation models, including the business value of each segment.

The research mentioned in this press release, the June 25, 2004 Tech Choices’ “Web Design Agency Shootout,” is available to WholeView 2™ clients and can be found at

The Forrester Wave Methodology

The Forrester Wave methodology is open, rigorous, and unbiased. Forrester starts with an open criteria review process, verifies findings against customer interviews, and checks facts with vendors. This research is performed without sponsorship to help user companies make better vendor selections. Forrester does not charge vendors in any way to participate in a Forrester Wave.