Working with a developer is a learning process. Even if you’ve done it a time or two, you’ll probably find that you learn something new about how to make the process go smoothly each time you collaborate.
One time you may find a better way to organize communication, while the next time you learn a great trick for showing your developer what kinds of transition effects you want.
And if you’ve never given it a try before, it can certainly be intimidating. It’s a huge thing to coordinate with your existing project and the costs of a collaboration not working out can be high. But the good news is, if you do a little preparing ahead of time, it doesn’t have to be intimidating at all!
Today, we’re going to do a quick rapid fire session of my top 10 tips for working with a developer.
1. Get organized
The most common hang-ups I’ve come across with designers working with developers for the first couple times all relate back to organization. Organization around your design files, how you manage your clients, how you schedule your projects, and more.
To make sure your projects go as smoothly as possible, make sure the projects you do on your own are completely organized. That way, the new steps that get added in the hand-off to a developer can fit right in.
2. Align your service offerings
Something that adds more time than is necessary to onboarding a new client comes with quoting a new project. When you have packages listed on your website, but don’t quite know how your developer’s pricing and packages fit in, talking about the project and getting a custom quote can add several days to the process.
Instead, work with your developer to create packages that include both of your packages including what the client gets, price, and timeline. That way, as long as your client doesn’t need anything customized in the package, all you need from your developer is their next available start date.
3. Understand what’s included and what’s not
Right along with the last tip, it’s important that you understand what’s included and what’s not included in your developer’s packages. Your developer might say that they’ll include 4 custom pages in their package, but that likely doesn’t mean that you can have sliders, an e-commerce shop, or some other custom functionality without an additional cost.
Be sure to have a conversation about this before taking on your first or next project together and always ask questions if you’re unsure throughout the project.
4. Communicate and communicate some more
Along with communicating about what’s included in your developer’s packages, as a rule of thumb, just communicate about everything.
Before taking on your first or next project talk about the project timeline, what your developer needs when, what your expectations are, who will be communicating with the client, what the launch process will look like, and where communication will take place.
All of these seem like little things that can be figured out as you go, but not having it ironed out ahead of time can make things a bit more stressful than they need to be.
5. Be available for questions
No matter how much you communicate before the project starts, your developer will likely still run into a few questions once they dive into coding your design.
Things like, “Where should these links go to?” or “What do you want the mobile menu to look like?” or “What parts of this should be on every page?” are questions I’ve had come up in the past.
I like to invite the designers I work with into a Slack group for quick and easy communication without you having to stare at your inbox all day.
6. Don’t assume we’ll “figure it out”
While it is important to be available for questions, that doesn’t mean your developer wants to be forced to ask them. That being said, don’t assume that we’ll know what you want with something in your design.
If your mockups aren’t designed to scale, don’t assume we’ll know the exact screen width you want. If your mockup shows the same picture in the header of the website, don’t assume we’ll know that your client should have the ability to make each one different.
The more details you include the better and the fewer issues that you’ll run into down the road.
Right along with that point, don’t be afraid to include notes with your designs. Whether it’s in a separate PDF, on a separate artboard in your Illustrator file, or right in your page mockups, notes are always helpful.
That way you don’t have to worry about making assumptions and your developer has all the information they need right in front of them where it’s impossible to miss.
8. Know what works
To change things up a bit, our 8th tip is all about understanding what works and what doesn’t. Before you go and reinvent the wheel with your latest design and send it off to your client, check with your developer to make sure it’s feasible.
You might find that something is out of scope, will slow down the site, or will even hurt something like SEO or how easy the site is to manage for your client.
When in doubt, go back to our 4th tip and communicate!
9. Hand off other tasks you’re not crazy about
We’re almost near the end here, but our 9th tip is to hand off more than the development of your custom sites. A lot of times, designers think of developer collaborations as something that’s only done on these huge projects.
Those projects are always fun, but there are a lot of other ways you can collaborate on smaller projects as well. A lot of developers will have the opportunity for you to keep them on retainer for a few hours per month for things like maintenance and tweaks for old clients or smaller site customizations for new clients.
This is great for taking a little extra non-design work off your shoulders.
10. Work with the right person
And last, the biggest tip I can give you about working with a developer is choosing the right person to work with.
It’s hard to trust someone with your client projects. You’re trusting the person you work with to treat your clients well, get the job done right, care just as much as you, and do your designs justice when bringing them to life.
Along with the quality aspect, you also want to make sure you get along with your developer as a person and they enjoy the same communication methods as you. For example, if you’re the type who loves hopping on the phone to talk about things on a moment’s notice, there are definitely some developers who would and wouldn’t work well with that type of setup.
Working with the right person can truly make or break a project so be sure to do some screening before deciding on the person you choose to work with.
To learn more about working with a developer, unlock the ultimate checklist to go from hours of code to development-free design projects. Click the button below to get started!