How To Find And Work With A Good Designer/Developer


A couple of weeks back I wrote about dysfunctional web designers/developers. Today we’ll discuss how to actually find a and work with agood one. I guess first, you can start out by not calling them dysfunctional.

I’ve been managing projects and designers for 13+ years and it’s tough for me to find a good worker, so imagine what it’s like for someone with no experience. Like your client. Below is some good advice for both client and business owner.

If you want your project to run smoothly and on time, don’t outsource. Make sure the company you are using doesn’t outsource. Whilst the price might be cheaper going overseas, the addage, “cheap is expensive” resonates loudly. I’m not suggesting you HAVE to go local (but like your vegetables, always try) but at the very least, keep it in the country. At worst you’re only dealing with a 3 hour time difference (and a 6 hour flight!).

Check their portfolio. This might seem obvious, but more than just looking at the screen shots of their design, go to the actual site and see if A) it works, does it make sense. Do the sites look and function the way you would want your site to look and function? If you happen to find a site you like, use it as an example. It’s always best to give a designer one of their own portfolio pieces as a guidline.

If you want to go a step further (and why wouldn’t you, it’s your money) contact the owners of the websites the company created. Send over a quick email asking them how their overall experience was with the company and if they were they on time as well as ethical.

I have heard a lot of stories of designers holding on to files, or asking for more money half way through a project. Asking for more money to do more work is fine, if you discussed it with your client before you started the work. You can’t just stop all work or get your knickers in a knot because you didn’t properly communicate the site’s scope. At least give the client plenty of upfront warning of any new charges, and why you’re charging them.

Finally, don’t hire your neighbor’s cousin.

So now that you have found your perfect designer – how do you talk to them? Typically, The first rule of fight club…you don’t.

When clients and designers speak it’s like 2 George’s colliding. It always helps if there’s a project manager involved to act as a translator although there are no gurantees.

If you decide to forgo the project manager and work directly with a designer (which is like trying to sell your own home) there are a few things you need to know: As the client: Be specific. If you think you are being too specific. Be more so. Provide examples wherever possible. If you like a certain color, get the exact #hex code. What is a hex code? Looking for blue? What shade, what tone?

Send ONE email only. Of course this is impossible, but you absolutely MUST refrain from sending a stream of 15 “consciousness emails”. Gather all your thoughts and notes in one email and send it off. You might be told otherwise, but you are not their only client so emails add up and the more emails, the more likely something gets missed.

Be patient. Dear God, be patient. Putting together a website with design, integration, content, testing and training can be exhaustive as well as frustrating. What you can’t do, is take out your frustrations with the guy designing your site. The best thing you can do for yourself is allow for at least 2-3 days margin of error. If your guy tells you it’ll be done Monday, expect it Thursday. Design and development is not an exact science, so be realistic with the deadlines.

Right click not write click. Make sure you and your “guy” are speaking the same language. I was speaking with an insurance client and we were talking about apps for 5 minutes before I realized she was referring to actual down loadable online applications for users to fill out and submit, and not a mobile application. IP is another one that comes to mind. Intellectual property v. Internet Protocol. These are the more obvious ones. If your designer is using words you don’t understand, make them explain to you what they’re talking about. Being properly informed helps everyone.

Don’t pretend you know more than you do. It’s like being in Rome and asking, in your broken Italian, for directions only to have them hurl out an entire 5 minute response, without taking a breath. In other words, don’t clutter the table. Let your designer do their job. After all, you did all this research to find them, so give them room to work.

Don’t be unrealistic. Everything good takes time. Be appreciative. Good designers are sensitive creatures. Most importantly, pay on time. Don’t wait 30 days to pay. Pay upon receipt.

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