You’d love to outsource some of the coding and techy aspects of your web design projects, but you’re among the many designers who hesitate about the cost of working with a developer.
I don’t blame you. Deciding to outsource custom development definitely adds to the cost of your packages and sometimes it’s just not reasonable to make that big price leap all at once.
But that realization isn’t fun either. Then you’re right back where you started:
- Spending too much time and energy fixing problems you don’t have time to deal with.
- Struggling to get web design projects wrapped up because of coding.
- Feeling like you’re starting from scratch once you’re done with design and ready to start development.
- Searching Google for hours for that one piece of CSS you need to make the menu look just right.
Luckily, there are other options out there. Bringing a developer in to code custom websites isn’t the only way for you to get rid of the coding and tech pieces of projects you’re constantly fighting with. We’re going to talk about the most affordable and flexible of those options today!
The affordable and flexible option for working with a developer
You might have guessed it, but the affordable and flexible option for when you’re not quite ready to outsource your custom development is to work with a developer on an ongoing monthly basis. (Aka retainer!)
If you’re not sure what this means, think of the process of working with a virtual assistant. You have that person there each month to complete tasks you assign on an hourly basis. That way, you can focus more on the pieces of projects you enjoy doing by removing the parts you’re not as crazy about or that someone else can get done more quickly.
Instead of fighting with code by yourself, you have someone else to assign those tasks to who can check them off in record time.
The process of working with a developer on retainer
Like any service, the specifics of working with a developer on retainer will vary from person-to-person. For the most part, you can expect the following type of process:
1. Decide how many hours you’d like per month
Step one is figuring out how many hours you’d like help with coding per month. This should be based both on how much help you expect yourself needing as well as your budget.
Remember, a developer will be able to complete tasks much more quickly than you’re used to. For example, I’ve had clients tell me that a task that took me a few minutes would have literally taken them hours!
If you’re not sure, start small. Any bit of help will make your job easier and you can always increase your hours in future months.
Most of my retainer clients start out at 2 or 4 hours and adjust for the first couple of months based on what we find they need.
2. Decide on a place to communicate
When you’re working with someone on retainer, it’s important that you have a quick and easy place to assign tasks, ask questions, and receive updates on their progress.
Some people may prefer email, but I’ve found it most beneficial to use Asana. That way, each retainer client can have a project to assign tasks. In each of those tasks, we can also set a due date, ask questions, and give progress updates.
3. Start assigning tasks
Once you’ve got your hours booked for the month and communication standards are set, you can start outsourcing the tasks you’ve been dreading!
For example, some tasks I get assigned frequently are things like:
- Create a staging site for a client project
- Fix the mobile responsiveness on a page
- Add custom styling to an element
- Set up the Contact page
- Code the footer to match a mockup
- Transfer a new design to the client’s live site
The list of tasks you can assign to a developer are endless, but those are just a few examples.
Once your tasks are assigned, you can relax and get back to the work you enjoy doing. It’s stressful to know you’ve got something on your to do list that you hate, but now you don’t have to worry about that!
Some things to keep in mind
Like with any type of outsourcing, there are a few things to keep in mind and chat with a developer about before jumping on a retainer contract.
Minimums – Something to look into before you book are any minimums a developer may have. For example, some may require that you book a minimum number of hours each month or sign on for a certain number of months to start. Personally, I require a 2-hour per month minimum and a 2-month commitment.
Platforms + Tasks – You’ll also want to look into which platforms a specific developer is willing to work with and if there are any tasks they’re not willing to do. For example, I specialize in WordPress so accept only certain Squarespace tasks and none for platforms like ShowIt or Shopify.
Turnaround Time – Next, ask about the turnaround time you can expect tasks to be completed in. While it’s reasonable to expect virtual assistants to complete tasks within a day or two, you might find that a busy developer needs a little bit more time. Be sure that your developer’s process will fit well with yours.
Rollover Hours – With a lot of retainer packages, you’ll find that if you don’t use your hours in one month, you’ll lose them. Check with your developer to see if that’s the policy they follow so you have the correct expectations going in. For example, I allow hours to rollover for up to one month, as long as an equal number of hours have been booked for that month.
Cancellation Policy – And last, ask about your developer’s cancellation policy. 30-day notice is pretty standard, but whether it’s more or less, it’s important to know what to expect up front if something were to change and you decide you no longer need development help.
Is a retainer package for you?
There are a lot of benefits to working with a developer on retainer and we’ll be sure to go over those in my next post.
But for now, imagine what it would be like if you didn’t have to worry about those random website updates or code tweaks for past projects or the more complicated parts of your current projects. Sounds like a dream, right?
To learn more about working together on retainer, click the button below or feel free to reach out with questions through my contact form!