Sometimes as a small business owner, we end up doing it all. As a designer you might find yourself doing client management, design, development, social media management, marketing, content creation, and a whole lot more.
But sometimes, trying to do it all comes at a cost. I know when I was trying to take care of it all, I didn’t do the best job. My social media accounts definitely suffered. Especially my Instagram account, which was the most important, because I just didn’t have the time to put into it that I needed.
As a designer trying to do it all, you might find yourself overlooking some things in your client projects – specifically in the development phase, since that’s not really what you want to be focusing on anyways. So today, we’ll talk about 5 details you’re probably overlooking in the development phase of your design projects.
1. Letting yourself shine
If you call yourself a “designer”, development is likely something you learned because you had to or you’re even still learning as you go. That’s totally fine, but it’s likely that you’re holding yourself back by designing around your coding abilities.
In today’s saturated market of designers, it’s important that you’re able to show off what you can do, so make sure that taking ownership of the development phase isn’t holding you back from growing your business and showing off what you can really do.
2. Making it easy on your clients
Something I didn’t think about in the first few months of my business was making things easy for my clients to update. Someone would email me, wondering how to update something, and they’d either have to go digging through theme files, HTML embedded in a page, or some confusing plugin.
Luckily, I’ve learned a lot of great ways to make things nice and easy for my clients to update, but if you’re more focused on design than development, those types of things might not be at the front of your mind.
For your next project, make sure your client won’t have to dig into the template files to update something easy or worry about deleting HTML and CSS when they want to update a little copy on their About page.
3. The way things look on *every* screen size
Something I’m careful of when developing websites, is making sure that it looks perfect on every possible screen size. Does it take a little time? Definitely, but it’s important.
I’ve seen quite a few designers who make sure things look good on a computer, tablet, and phone, which is a great start, but there are a whole lot more sizes in between those three. Just on a computer, people can drag their browser to be any size they want. And what about all the different sizes of tables and phones out there? Not to mention the option of viewing things in landscape, rather than portrait.
Next time you’re working on responsiveness, make sure the website you’ve design looks great on every possible screen size, rather than just a few.
4. The cost of plugins
Next comes plugins. As of writing this, there are just over 50,000 plugins in the WordPress repository. How crazy is that?
I love the option of adding extra functionality easily through plugins, but it can come at a cost.
If you’re not a coding master, it’s tempting to use plugins for absolutely everything – from mobile responsive menus to sliders and more.
But there are two main costs of doing it this way. First, is the overall performance and security of the website. Each plugin you install is one more thing that needs to be loaded when someone goes to your client’s site. Adding a ton of plugins is a sure way to slow things down.
On top of performance, there’s also a slightly increased security risk each time you upload a new plugin, especially if they’re not being maintained or your client doesn’t do their updates.
And along with that comes the confusion that they can cause clients. I’ve had several times where clients have reached out to me to help with a website they had made and the solution was way more difficult to find than it should of been, thanks to it being buried in a plugin.
Be sure that you choose your plugins for projects wisely and build the functionality into the theme when it makes sense.
5. Training your clients
And last comes training your clients. It’s not fun to have a huge part of your business that you don’t really know how to use. That’s what it feels like to your clients if you hand over a website to them without any type of training.
It doesn’t have to be anything intense, but enough for them to not feel intimated and to feel empowered to make their own updates.
I have a small library of general WordPress training videos that I send to clients who are new to WordPress and every single client I take on gets a custom video, specific to their site and the special functionalities they have.
Sure, it takes a little extra time, but it’s worth it to give someone the tools they need to put their website to use.
If you don’t currently have anything in place for training your clients, consider finding a few videos on how they can use the platform they’re on as well as recording a quick video for each client, walking through anything important they need to know.
Are there any details you’re overlooking?
This post certainly wasn’t meant to make you feel guilty, but to show you a few things that you can start paying closer attention to in your projects. Both you and your clients will benefit from it!
But if these are the types of things you don’t want to worry about, it’s time to consider working with a developer! That way, you can focus on the parts of projects you love (design) and leave development to someone who all of these things are like second nature to.
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!