When a designer and a developer decides to work together it can be great. I believe the results tend to turn out better because each person is bringing their best to the table. With any collaboration process there can be some common communication mistakes. It’s just part of the process, but with the right awareness you can eliminate some of the hiccups.
Before you head into your next collaboration make sure you keep these common communication errors in mind to help make the process easier.
Website designer & developer communication
Before we dive in I really want to stress the importance of communication the website designer & developer especially when you have two creatives coming together. Each person is going most likely have some assumptions that they assume the other person will know. So assume nothing and discuss everything.
If you are the person bringing the client to the table make sure you communicate everything the client stated to you to the other party. There could be some helpful information the other party may need to know in order to make an effective decision.
Now that we have that out of the way let’s dive into some common mistakes regarding communication.
The goals of the website
Regardless of the person’s role each party involved needs to know and understand the goals of the website. This will help each person bring better suggestions and solutions to the table and help create a great experience for the client.
short-term vs long-term goals
When it comes to short-term and long-term each one is very important. Short-term goals can be the initial phase of getting a site built to help launch a product, service or shout out an event. Long-term goals can be possibly adding additional features down the line to help with conversions, sales, user experience.
Both the designer and the developer need to have a thorough understanding so that each can make the best decisions when it comes to building a goal driven website.
For example, let’s say the client is planning on launching a service and the short-term goal is to get the essentials online for that service. Only the most basic features will need to be created (a place to capture an email, contact form, etc) but if say the developer is not aware of that and they start building out a long-term goal feature like a shop first. Because they want to focus on the most intricate features first, a huge opportunity could present itself throwing the project off and making each party look bad.
So make sure each party understands the goals and vision of the project.
Usually when a client decides to hire professionals its because they are tired of trying to figure it out on their own. Whatever they are doing is not working and they need to turn things around for the better.
With that in mind clients usually, have some ideas about how they plan on expanding their business. Maybe adding in a new feature like an e-commerce option, possibly selling courses, etc. Either way, they need a foundation in place to help them expand.
Knowing those goals ahead of time will make the process of growth so much better. The designer can design features that allow for flexibility, the developer can code or add in elements to support easy to expand functionality. So that when the client is ready to make the change things will be seamless.
Can you imagine how happy your client will be when they can tell you to put thought into their design and site build?! They are going to be shouting your praises to colleagues, the cat and aunt Sue who doesn’t even understand the importance of a website.
Anyway, you get the point… your cat even needs to know the long-term growth of the website haha.
Users of the site
Often times your client may not be the only person interacting with the site. It could be a team member, assistant, spouse, etc. Being aware of who will be using the site is important, maybe certain permissions need to be set up for certain access or special training needs to occur so that everyone is on board.
Anyone who is going to be managing or interacting with the website needs to be known so we can prepare for the best. It’s no fun when you get a panic email for the client because their assistant deleted an important feature and they have an event happening soon.
Like… no thank you let’s skip the drama, please.
How the site will be built
Website users skill sets coming in varying degrees. Let’s be honest here WordPress is not known to be the most user-friendly platform when it comes to user interface. A lot of people struggle because they weren’t trained how to use their site and sometimes the site isn’t built with them in mind.
I know you understand what I am talking about when a client says they can’t figure out how to update their website and you can hear their frustration.
That’s why it’s important to me as the developer to understand how the site will be used and the users skill set so that I can help them feel comfortable with their website.
How tech-savvy are the client and the staff
Most small businesses have a team of people they work with to help run operations. Of course, the client themselves may wish to go login into their site to add in content or make adjustments.
This is where we need to understand how comfortable the client is with technology and using the platform. During the communication phase, a conversation about how tech-savvy the client is and their team will be beneficial.
Client’s don’t often bring this up in a conversation unless they have had a previous experience where they were frustrated with how to make changes and updates.
Some of the consequences I’ve seen from missing this piece in the conversation are:
- broken sites
- clients completely switching to an entirely new CMS.
After working so hard to craft such a great site to see a client just ditch the work and pivot is a not a win-win for anyone.
Does the client want to be hands on or hands off
Like I stated before some clients want to be the one that can make updates or changes but maybe they don’t. Which is completely fine, knowing this beforehand will help communicate only the necessary information the client needs to know.
Plus an effective plan can be created to help with any necessary updates they may need in the future.
Just don’t leave it on the table to be guessed. Even if the client is tech savvy they may want to have a hands-off approach so they can focus their efforts somewhere else.
Custom, framework or page builder…
I think here is where our experts have to shine. Based on the client’s answers during discovery. We need to be clear on the tools the site will use to be built. Custom from scratch may not be in the clients budget or necessarily needed. The client may do just fine with a framework (like Genesis) but they may also want a page builder (like Beaver Builder) so they can make updates easily.
This information is very important in so many ways it can affect the budget, time, etc.
So make sure there is a discussion on the tools that will be used.
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The importance of mobile in business is essential. A design made for desktop with no plans in place for mobile can be a huge disadvantage. Especially if elaborate features are not planned.
A chat about mobility should definitely be part of the conversation.
Designs on desktop vs mobile
Designs on a desktop will look different on mobile. Sometimes certain features are best hidden on mobile to make the designs cleaner. Mobile design should not be cluttered there just isn’t enough space for the designs to fit.
Some designers design using the mobile first approach. Starting with the smallest screen size and working their way up to a desktop. This takes care of the issue designs not translating well on mobile.
Of course, if you design with mobile in mind then you can approach designing the way you like. Just make sure that there is a discussion about mobility.
I think I’ve touched on this throughout the post but planning ahead should definitely be a part of the conversation. Getting more specific…
What will the relationship look like after the client receives the website? Will there be a maintenance plan in place or a retainer established for updates? What will that look like for the people involved and the client?
This is especially key if your client plans on being hands off. Presenting a plan to support them prior to the project start will help them feel more comfortable that they will have support after the site is completed.
A great way to begin that conversation is to ask: “What types of support will be needed after the website is complete?”
Working together as a duo can be a great experience, communication is key to helping create a successful collaboration. As you can tell there is more to just passing on the design to the developer or the developer hiring the designer. It’s not a quick order where you pick a meal, add in some toppings and in 15 minutes have the desired meal. More thought and planning needs to go into the process to deliver a better outcome.