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5 Reasons Why a Development Retainer Makes Sense

Bill Casey CEO & Partner
#Industry Insights
Published on April 3, 2015

Learn why forming an ongoing partnership with Diagram can provide you with the tools and guidance to make the most of your online strategy.

At Diagram, our client philosophy is all about partnership. Rather than taking a “one and done” approach to web design and development, we believe the best results are built over time and through ongoing collaborative work to make sure we understand your digital needs and you, our client, understand the ecosystem that makes up the always changing world of Digital Experience. One of the key tools we use to accomplish this is a retainer. Retainers are the purchase of a set number of hours each month to be utilized in any of the service areas we offer. There are many benefits to a retainer, but the five listed below represent the most significant reasons why this is an approach that may make sense for you.

1. Budgeting

Many organizations must make spending decisions a year or more in advance in order to make sure funds are allocated appropriately. The trouble with this is that when it comes to supporting and enhancing a website, a year is a long time, and many needs cannot be anticipated that far in advance. When you know you’ll be investing in your website but haven’t earmarked specific projects or requests, a retainer allows you to ensure funds are reserved to take care of whatever needs arise throughout the year.

2. Prioritization

By committing to us in the form of a retainer, we are able to commit to you. From our standpoint, knowing ahead of time how much time is reserved for client retainers along with our regular projects is extremely helpful in ensuring we are staffed appropriately to provide the high level of service our clients expect. Without this insight, we are faced with inconsistent ebbs and flows of work, continually battling having too few or too many resources at any given time; this is not an ideal business model. By committing to a retainer, you are purchasing a block of our time to be used each month. We, in turn, make sure we have the staff allocated appropriately and give priority treatment to retainer requests over ad hoc requests from non-retainer clients. In short, if you’re looking for continual, quick turnaround on support requests and site enhancements, committing to a retainer will ensure the team is in place and ready to go.

3. Dedicated Team

A retainer is more than just a block of hours to be used each month. You are in essence hiring a team to be on call for all of your support and maintenance needs. This is a dedicated team that understands your site, how it was built, the direction you’re heading, and the pitfalls to avoid. This level of expertise means quicker turnaround, fewer mistakes, and a close, positive working relationship with a group of friendly strategists, designers, and developers who you’ll really get to know. They will become a valued extension of your team, helping you reach your digital goals.

4. Strategic Guidance

A common worry some clients experience when considering a retainer is not knowing how all the hours are going to be used and a hesitancy to commit money to unknown needs. In our experience, this type of worry is largely unwarranted, as needs always arise -- some expected, some not. But our approach to retainers isn’t simply to sit back and wait for requests to come in. Our partnership model means we are continually thinking about ways to improve your digital experience, analyzing industry trends, and providing guidance on how your site should adapt and evolve. Our wide array of service offerings can be brought into play at any time, including conducting usability tests, analyzing user data, and identifying trends and areas for improvement. Our strategists will be an ongoing source of advice and information that will help you make the most of your retainer commitment.

5. Iterative Improvement

A website should never be “finished.” Decisions made early in the design process are good for that particular point in time, but technology advances, user behavior changes, and market conditions fluctuate. Your website should not sit static while the world moves around it and eventually leaves you behind. A retainer enables you to commit resources to ongoing evaluation and refinement in order to move your website forward and make essential iterative improvements over time.

There are many other benefits to a retainer, and each client may have a different viewpoint on why a retainer works for them. Whatever the case, our primary goal is to be there for our clients in the long term. Retainers give us the ability to always stay focused on your website and your digital strategy without the inconsistency of an on-again, off-again relationship that lacks continuity or an overall plan. Do you want to know more about our retainer options and how to become a partner with us? Please contact us, and we’ll work with you to find the best solution for your ongoing digital needs.