How far back shall we go? Ad agencies of the 1950s? Creative Directors sipping whiskey after a pitch? (Or perhaps before the pitch.) Agencies have existed for well over 70 years, but things got a little crowded and confusing around the time of the dot com bubble.
Design agency. Creative agency. Web agency. Development agency. Marketing agency. For the most part, the clue is in the name. But as larger agencies gobbled up smaller ones, boutique agencies merged, and some agencies changed their direction entirely, the specialist businesses made way for a new wave of generalist businesses. Or ‘digital agencies’.
For us, this is the kind of agency we hear about the most. Founders and board members have pushed and pulled to bring a greater breadth of skills in-house, not only to be able to offer full-service support to their clients, but to give them little need to go elsewhere.
What is a digital agency?
Generally, a digital agency will lead with web or brand design. This is their primary offering and is often supported by a complementary set of services, including copywriting, SEO, digital marketing and social media. The overarching strategy is to sell the primary product and upsell the supporting services. This all makes perfect sense, as a website without good copy or SEO is not going to be particularly effective.
Let’s stick with websites as an example, not only because it’s something that we can all relate to, but it’s also where we began as a business. All of the services listed above are forward-facing. As in, it’s what the customer will see, use and interact with. On the other side, it’s the back end. So really, anything related to development, software engineering or programming.
The most simple way to differentiate AndAnotherDay from more generalist digital agencies is through the makeup of our team and the specific work that we do. The vast majority of our work is technical, so we identify as a technology agency.
We feel it’s also important to know your developer from your programmer from your engineer. There’s no hard and fast rule here, but this is how we see it:
A more traditional term that refers to anyone who takes a website design and builds it out using established and common web technologies. However, this kind of role does cover a lot more than just coding. Web developers need to have an understanding of design principles, and they will often test, debug and optimise their work.
I don’t know about you, but ‘software’ still makes me think of boxed products and CD-ROMs. The role however has progressed, and a software engineer generally takes a technological, mathematical and scientific approach to solving human problems. Their work is less website-focused and engineers will often work on enterprise-level digital products such as financial systems or consumer platforms.
This one can be difficult to categorise. It can be associated with database languages such as SQL, Oracle, MongoDB or more traditional languages including Java, C# and PHP. And whilst most programmers will be happy just programming and staying out of wider conversations around design, architecture or microservices, some will get involved.
Having said this, we’ve seen agencies change their entire team’s job titles from Web Developer to Software Engineer overnight, only for the roles themselves to remain the same. There’s a whole world of nuanced parlance here, and perhaps that’s a can of worms that we just pop back on the shelf for now.
So what is a technology agency?
Let’s take what we said about software engineers. ‘A technological approach to solving human problems’. This just about sums up what we do as a business. We have front-loaded our agency with technical services and the skilled people who deliver them. This is enables us to solve problems for our clients by using tech in a way that is powerful and innovative, with technologies that we feel are ahead of the curve.
We are not a web design agency, nor are we a WordPress agency or a digital marketing agency. Once upon a time, we were all of those things, but as we have changed our purpose and our focus over the last few years, we’ve come to realise that well-marketed websites alone cannot change the world, and the kind of clients that we want to work with are asking for a lot more than a pretty home page.
From jQuery to GraphQL and more – we will use what works best for the project
Our team is proudly agnostic to coding and programming languages, and some may call themselves engineers, others may call themselves programmers. What matters most is that we share a common goal to ‘do good’ and we know that our primary function is to build digital products that can help our clients do that. Our clients no longer come to us and ask for a website. They come to us with an idea, a problem or an early prototype of a solution. As a technology agency, we build and launch that product with tech.
You may be interested in some previous blogs in which we explain how we work and why we work that way:
Understanding MVP and What Ours Looks Like
The State of Mobile Development and Why We Are Device Agnostic
What Is GraphQL and Why Would You Need It?
There are tech agencies out there just like us who have the same sharp focus on a particular kind of work, and there are others with a more general approach, taking on projects from a wider range of sectors. But the commonalities are clear; the business is underpinned by a strong tech team working on anything from back-end web development to complex systems architecture or deep database programming. It all counts, and it’s all behind the products and services that you and I use every single day.
Our differentiator is that we want to improve the world.
Looking to the future
If you missed it, we are growing, and we are building out our team with PMs, designers and marketers. Whilst you’d find these roles in just about any kind of digital agency, these are key roles and ones that we all need to keep the ball rolling. To read more about these roles, check out this blog, and to learn more about the role of a Project Manager in a tech agency, check out this one.
If you’re looking for a technology-first agency who use their combined skills to solve real-world problems to make the planet a better place, get in touch.