THINGS TO DISCUSS WITH YOUR WEB DEVELOPER BEFORE YOU START

THINGS TO DISCUSS WITH YOUR WEB DEVELOPER BEFORE YOU START

If you’re designing a new website or online store, and you need a web developer. You might need them to develop a site from start. Or maybe you just need them to work through some tweaks, changes, issues, or extra functionality.

I’ve found that an open conversation about these items can start a project off on the right foot.

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1. How Will We Communicate?

How will you communicate while working on the project? Slack? Phone calls? Texts? Emails? PM software? Just as importantly: How often will you communicate? Every day? Once a week? At kickoff, and then not again until QA? If you’re doing a daily check-in, will it be a two-sentence email or a 15-minute phone call? What’s the plan in case of emergencies?

You want to have a good rapport with your developer, and to accomplish that, you need an established mode of communication. Usually, a phone call is helpful to develop an initial personal connection and to make sure it’s a good personality fit.

During development, work to strike a balance between checking in too much and too little. Too much and you’re micro-managing. Too little and the developer might not stay on track. It’s best to set the expectations at the top and stick to them.

2. How Will You Manage the Project?

Where are the files and login credentials the developer will need? Where will you track tasks, milestones, and deadlines? What software will you use? Basecamp? Trello? Asana? A spreadsheet or Google Doc? Basically, define the central hub for everything related to the project.

3. Who’s Calling the Shots?

Are you the final decision maker on the project? Is there a UI/UX team involved? Is there anyone else who has input on decisions? Is there a marketing team or a manager who wants to weigh in on decisions? Is anyone else other than you going to be giving direction directly to the developer? When does the client come in, and how many decisions does the client get to make? Will the client have direct communication with the developer?

4. How Should the Developer Handle Assumptions and Small Decisions?

How much freedom does the developer have while interpreting designs? Should they build the website pixel-perfect according to the designs, or should they make small assumptions around consistency and reusability of sections? If you’ve designed a responsive site, have you designed for all breakpoints? Have you provided notes regarding animations, transitions, and hover effects? Have you designed validation states for fields? (i.e. the popups: “Password invalid.” or “Username doesn’t exist”.) If you haven’t, is the developer free to make decisions or suggestions?

5. What is the timeline?

What’s the hard deadline for the project, and what’s the soft deadline? Is there a major press hit happening that the site needs to be launched for? If the deadline is ambitious, is there a way to launch it in phases? What’s the expectation for responding to quick changes? One week turnaround? Less than an hour?

6. What’s the Structure of the Scope, Contract, and Payment Structure?

What’s the project fee? What’s the benchmark for the end of the project? What is included in the scope of the project? When does payment go out? Are you hiring the developer to do the project at an hourly or fixed rate?

Overall, setting expectations and communication are critical things here. It can feel a bit silly to discuss how you’re going to talk to each other during a project, especially if you already have a good rapport. But it’s always good to just set expectations ahead of time, so you don’t end up inside your own horror story.

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