It’s been almost a year since I went from being a WordPress developer for “online business owners” to a WordPress developer for designers. My first post for designers was published on September 27, 2016 and was all about the benefits of collaborating with a developer on your design projects. So fun to look back on!
Over the last year, I’ve talked to a lot of designers who are excited at the thought of teaming up with a developer but aren’t sure if they’re “ready”. Those feelings of imposter syndrome seem to sneak in and tell them that they’re not good enough yet. They’re not enough of an “expert”. They need to be as good as so-and-so.
If you’re finding yourself having those thoughts, today I’m here to tell you that you can put them to rest. There are a few things you want to have in place before you jump into working with a developer, but it has nothing to do with how long you’ve been in business or how amazing you are at design. I’ve worked with designers at all different levels of experience and I can tell you that those things don’t matter.
However, there are a few things that do matter for a successful partnership. And so you know exactly what you need to work towards, today we’ll go over four of the things you’ll want to have in place before partnering with a developer.
1. A set process
The most important part of your business, when it comes to partnering with a developer, is your design process. It might not be on your mind too much before you dive into a collaboration, but if you got on the phone with a developer to talk about working together, you’d very quickly realize that things might not work if you don’t have a set design process.
For example, your developer will likely want an exact date that they’ll be scheduled to start. That means that you need to know exactly how long your design stage takes.
They’ll also want to ensure that they have the final version of the design, not something that the client will want to tweak once they start. That means you need a solid revision and sign-off process.
I could go on, but I’m sure you get the idea.
If you haven’t yet nailed down your design process, starting working through it in your next couple of projects. Create yourself a process outline and start following it. Note how long each stage of projects tend to take you, always allowing yourself a little extra time.
That way, when you and your developer chat about teaming up for the first time, you’ll know exactly how all the pieces can fit together.
For more detailed guidance in this area, check out the From Mockup To Code Toolkit. In it, we lay out the exact steps you’ll need to take into consideration and even have a development start date calculator!
2. Web design knowledge
Next, some designers decide to dive straight into web design when they only have knowledge of branding or print design. Now, that’s totally fine, but web design comes with it’s own set of challenges that Megan and I go into in depth in the From Mockup To Code Toolkit.
For example, your designs have to be feasible for the web. You don’t want to design some crazy layout or functionality only to find that it will slow your client’s website down a ton or won’t translate exactly the way you want it to.
You also want to consider the way people will interact with your designs. Unlike print, people can hover, click, and interact with your website designs in other ways. It’s important to give people feedback as they’re using their website for a good overall experience.
And the last example I’ll give is mobile responsiveness. This opens up a whole new can of worms, but the designs you create need to translate to small mobile devices somewhat seamlessly. A good developer will be able to make most things work, but it’s still helpful to keep it in mind.
If you’ve never done web design before or you’re just getting started, this could be the most intimidating part of the process so take some time to practice and do some research before diving in.
3. A target audience with the right budget
The next thing you’ll want to keep in mind is the costs that come with custom website development from experts. A lot of people are surprised at just how much custom development costs, but when you consider that most websites take anywhere from 40-70 hours of coding, those premium prices make a bit more sense.
With that in mind, it’s important that you’re not targeting beginners who have tiny budgets. You want to be looking for the kinds of people who really value and appreciate what a strong web presence can do for them, based on past experience, and can afford the type of people that will make it happen.
If you’re currently finding yourself targeting people with smaller budgets, start shifting your content to business owners with more experience.
4. A desire to spend more time on what you love
The last thing you need before you’re ready to partner with a developer is the desire to spend less time on coding and tech and more time designing or working on your business.
If you’ve found yourself dreading the coding parts of your projects or even being held back from offering websites because of your coding abilities, that’s all you need for this last point!
Are you ready to partner with a developer?
As you can see, preparing yourself to partner with a developer isn’t as difficult as you might have thought it would be. All you need is a set design process, a knowledge of general web design, and a target audience who can afford a coding expert (and you!).
To prepare for your first (or next) collaboration with a developer so you can go into it with confidence, download my 9-step checklist!