Product Design

Dec. 7, 2018

/ business & Agile

Software house or interactive agency - what is a better choice for my project?

Luiza Sadowska

Each project is unique and requires an exceptional progress plan. Companies or startups often don’t know with whom should they work and unfortunately the end product is not always the desired one. Even if both, a software house and the interactive agency did their best. What are the main differences and which one to choose when deciding on your project’s future?

Interactive agency

The primary duties and goals of an interactive agency are to promote the product, reach particular KPI’s, bring higher revenue and so on. However, an agency does not create and build the product from scratch! After getting a brief from the client, an agency is working on the branding and concept of the campaign. If, for example, a website or an application is a part of the campaign, it will also be done - might be outsourced or done by agency’s in-house developers. However, it is still a part of the campaign of a ready-made product. The main benefits of an agency is a fresh perspective on the product itself, experience and a broader skill set than for example dealing with promotion in-house. Basically, an interactive agency is offering what traditional advertising agency would offer but with full awareness and understanding of the Internet. It is a mix of different techniques, Internet marketing, e-commerce consulting and web design/development. It is essential to bear in mind that the marketing strategy and execution is the main service, but due to increasing demand on the market, it is becoming more flexible. Agencies also deal with new media and digital solutions: display marketing and retargeting, mobile-first optimisation, SEO, content and email marketing, testing, social media, online reputation management and so on. There is a bunch of services and could include way more, but an interactive agency is dealing with a ready product which needs to be delivered to potential clients. Of course, it might include, i.e. changing landing pages or providing a new user’s flow path, but those are cosmetic changes on the already existing website or application while a software house is actually creating them. 

An interactive agency is a good choice if:

  • you already have a product (might be a physical product which needs a presence in the digital form or just start existing on the Internet),
  • your company/startup needs help with online marketing,
  • you want to check how the solutions made till now are performing,
  • you want to mark your presence on the web and promote your brand across channels,
  • you need a boost and come up with a new campaign,
  • you can’t measure and analyse the collected data by yourself.

Software House

As the name suggests, this type of company deals with software! Usually, the team is built from tech-savvy developers, project managers, business analysts, testers, UX designers and so on. A software house is focusing mostly on developing or improving a product and its usability. The marketing plan is not the main goal here, but if you have one on this stage it will for sure be taken into account! A perfect, tailor-made and user-friendly web application or any end product based on the produced software - yes, it is! In a full-stack agile software house, like Merixstudio, you can build web applications, websites and HTML5 games as a full package: business analysis, design and branding, top-notch lines of code and tests of the end product. Some software houses specialise more in consumer software, while others in Software as a Service (SaaS) but you can also get service like a UX audit in a bigger software house. The difference between software house and an interactive agency is that a software house is actually developing and distributing software products while an agency is focusing on monetising what is already given.  

A software house is a good choice if:

  • you need to produce a useful (not only business wise) program,
  • you need digital solutions to problems (and bring real value),
  • you need corporate systems or tailor-made website,
  • you need a solid data and technical insights (and a professional team which knows how to analyse it),
  • you need not only a custom software development but also a UX (User Experience) and UI (User Interface), IA (Information Architecture), Product Design or more in-depth understanding of IoT (Internet of Things), 
  • you need product design workshops or UX audit to develop the best possible solutions which will be beneficial for your company and the user,
  • you want to improve your website's performance, but even a great marketing strategy doesn’t seem to work.

A software house and an interactive agency. A hybrid form? 

Due to a huge range of projects and the varieties, often you can find a software house which is also offering services of an interactive agency, rarely the opposite. The thing is, that for a software house, which has a background in quite complicated areas and a team of professionals that specialise in the field, adding digital marketing is not that difficult but also, not the primary interest. Software houses are established to create new software, digital products and their distribution. Depending on the skill set, they might be more experienced, i.e. in custom software development and UX design while other more in HTML5 games. Before choosing a company you are going to work with, the great idea is to check the reviews on sites like clutch.co. Wondering how much could a quality code cost? Then this article about the costs of outsourcing with compared prices in different countries is for you!

If you have a great product already, but you need to focus on online marketing, brand awareness and presence in the web - then an interactive agency is a better choice! However, even if you have a website and so on but they don’t perform that well, maybe it is time for a UX audit? Often, even with a great marketing strategy, if your website or an app is not meeting the customers' needs, you are losing revenue! 

Each project is a different case, thus before deciding upon an agency or a software house it is good to do solid research and check a portfolio and case studies carefully. 

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