For those of us who work in the digital realm, you will more than likely come in contact with a developer at some point—whether it’s incorporating special functionality on a landing page or executing a full site rebuild. As such, it’s important to make sure you understand how to productively work with a developer.
If you plan to hire a contractor or work with a developer internally, there are three guidelines to take note of before jumping into a project. In this article, we will outline what these items are, as well as walk through a timeline of each step in the process.
How Is a Web Designer Different Than a Web Developer?
It’s easy to confuse the difference between web designers and developers. They both play their own significant part in developing a website.
So, what's the difference?
Web designers are in charge of creating visually appealing and user-friendly templates, whereas developers use code such as HTML, CSS, or Java to bring those designs to life.
To put it into perspective, web designers are like architects. They are in charge of creating a plan. Developers are like construction workers, who take those plans and bring them to life.
Let’s dive into three key guidelines you should understand to productively work with a developer.
Three Guidelines to Follow When Working With a Developer
To make sure that you and the developer maintain a healthy and happy relationship, there are a few guidelines that are important to follow. These will not only ensure that the project is complete in a timely fashion, but will help produce a quality website.
Here are three necessities you need to productively work with a developer.
1. Gather and Provide All Assets
This might seem like a given before starting a project, but there always seems to be a tracking code or a piece of imagery that gets left behind. Depending on if your developer is creating the entire site or just building out the templates provided, they will require certain items.
It’s always better to ask for more than you need. That way, you can eliminate delays and back-and-forth emails.
Here’s a list of items that are generally needed prior to site development:
- Basic Information
- Employee List (Titles, Headshots, Bios, and Contact Information)
- Company Address
- Form Embed Codes
- Social Account Links
- Content of the Site (formatted according to the template)
- Back-End Login Credentials
- Tracking Codes (Google Tag Manager, Google Analytics, any additional codes (such as ad retargeting), a Facebook ad pixel, or any pop-up code)
- Google Search Console Access
- eCommerce Information (if necessary, any woocommerce login information, payment gateway info, product list w/needed variables, etc.)
2. Align on Expectations
Making sure everyone is on the same page is important, not just for the quality of the website, but also because it will reduce the number of revisions between you and your developer.
If you’re working with a contractor, it’s especially important that you have a contract signed so that both parties are aligned and expectations are set. Here is a great resource that provides a template of a good contract.
3. Agree on a Timeline
Every developer works at their own pace. Depending on the size of your project, timelines can vary. However, it’s still important to have a rough estimate of when the project should be done.
Below are three useful checkpoints to ensure your project stays on track.
1. Setting Standards
Schedule a meeting to define the scope of your project, gather the necessary assets, and establish your project’s timeline. These are all important to get your website development off on the right foot.
When projects are rushed and started without proper alignment, the quality of the work, and the relationship between you and your developer, can suffer.
A great approach for a new project is to utilize the “crawl, walk, run” methodology. It’s better to take longer in the beginning stages of your project than to run through the process and end up with a poor result.
2. Initial Development Check-in
After your developer is finished building out the site, most offer one to two rounds of revisions. This is where you can point out any bugs, linking issues, or template errors. It’s also important to check the website for mobile and tablet responsiveness.
Developers should enable their development to be responsive, but it’s always important to check.
3. Final Website Review
After you have gotten the website up to your expectations, it’s time to launch your site. Most of the time, developers offer assistance with this process as well. Launching a site can be a complicated process, especially if you’re changing any DNS settings.
Once the site is launched, it’s vital that you preview your live site on an incognito window or browser with a cleared cache. In rare circumstances, items might not transfer over properly when launching a site. This is why once your site is live, you should check all images, buttons, links, and mobile/tablet versions to make sure everything is functioning properly.
After you have confirmed it’s all working, you can enjoy your new site!
Example of a Timeline
Now that we’ve hit all the important pieces that are involved to productively work with a developer, let’s see everything in a timeline view.
Below is a great resource for your next website project. No matter what project management tool you are using, you can apply the below tasks to jumpstart your project.
Of course, depending on the type of website you need, the project you’re working on might require additional assets. However, the above framework is a good starting point and will ensure that you can productively work with a developer.
The next time you are faced with a website project and are working with a developer, make sure you utilize the three guidelines mentioned above, as well as the timeline, and you will be on the road to success.