If you’re searching for a design agency, chances are that you want to find a company that will, at minimum, do some kind of design for your website. But did you know that there are actually several different kinds of agencies?

Let’s explore the different types of design agencies so that you can understand how they are different, and make a better decision about which type will best suit your unique expectations and needs.

Design Agencies

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A typical design agency would have, in the past, specialized only in graphic design, branding, and print design for its clients. Now that the world’s focus has shifted to the web, a large majority of design agencies now specialize in, or at least place a large focus, on website design.

When partnering with a standard design agency, you can expect to receive design support for your website and online marketing (ex. social media page design, banner ads, etc.), as well as branding, any print media, and possibly traditional advertising.

Design agencies may or may not specialize or employ staff educated in Internet marketing tactics like SEO, PPC, or content marketing. They tend to focus on design only since that’s what their employees do well.

Design agencies are also early marketing agencies just trying to get their start in the marketplace. As an agency grows and acquires more clients, it’s natural for a design agency to expand beyond its artistic borders and hire marketers, project managers, and social media experts to complement their original design team.

Once a design agency crosses that threshold, they may be considered a digital agency instead, which we’ll cover on this same page.

Interactive Agencies

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Interactive agencies are very similar to design agencies in that they typically specialize in design and branding. However, interactive firms also include website development, or advanced website design and programming, in their portfolio.

Interactive agencies may also work in video, audio, and other multimedia to provide a full range of services to their customers. This kind of high-level content typically costs a little more money than your conventional design agency, but its long-term potential is much higher than simple graphics and images.

After all, what better way to connect with your website’s visitors than to let them interact with your site?

If you want your website to have advanced functionality and look good, an interactive agency is the best choice. This kind of agency can also create flash animations, online videos, or other advanced tools like custom designers.

Much like design agencies, these companies may employ some staff educated in online marketing, but they may not offer these services to most or all of their customers.

Digital Agencies

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Also called “digital marketing agencies,” digital agencies are those that specialize in digital marketing strategies. These companies can not only design a website, but they can also support it with custom development, ongoing maintenance, and so on.

Digital agencies typically support all things their clients do online. They can not only develop and design websites, but also set up marketing campaigns, do SEO, write content, and so on. This makes them an ideal choice for companies looking to shift their marketing online, and work with a single agency instead of multiple.

This kind of consolidated service makes digital agencies an ideal point of contact for larger companies that have the budget to spend on multiple marketing strategies. It may be a little more expensive than design or interactive agencies, but you get much more for your dollar (and only one point of contact).

The biggest weakness of digital agencies is that they may prefer not to deal with more traditional forms of advertising or design, including print advertisements, billboards, branding, radio commercials, and so on. If you’d like to find a company that is willing to do it all, our last agency type is the right choice for you.

Full Service Digital Marketing Agency

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A full service digital marketing agency is one that is willing and able to perform all your requested services. Whether you’re seeking an agency to simply design a website, or would rather locate a long-term partner to handle all of your marketing, advertising, and maintenance tasks, a full service agency can help you.

True to its name, a full service agency employs staff that can handle almost anything you might ask them to do. They can support your marketing efforts from start to finish, or simply handle occasional projects. They can also create logo designs, set up print advertising, or provide support for ongoing website maintenance.

To that extent, full service digital marketing agencies have the largest “menu” of options for their clients. Plus, because they offer so much, they can usually offer the same services as other types of agencies at a lower price point since they have a larger client volume.

However, that doesn’t mean full service digital marketing agencies don’t pay attention to their individual clients. On the contrary, a good full service agency will have a surplus of internal marketers who help clients with a comparatively small sales team. That design ensures the agency is never overburdened, and every client can get the attention that they deserve.

The best of these agencies will have a proven track record of success as well. If you’re not sure whether you should contract with one of them, take a look through their online portfolio — which should be easily accessible from their homepage — and see if you like the work they’ve done.

If you don’t like it, you can always choose another agency. And if you do like it, you may have just found the perfect marketing partner in a full service digital marketing agency!

Finding the right agency for you

At the end of the day, nobody knows your business better than you. Not every type of agency is right for every company. The type of agency you select depends on your individual needs. We’ve compiled a list of the best agencies in 2016, regardless of their type, so take a look and find the one that’s best for you!