There are millions of web developers out there, all waiting to be plucked from the ether and put to work. And everyone has their own method, their own practices, but here are a few items to expect from your developer.
“It’ll be ready when it’s ready.” This is what I tell my husband when he asks what time dinner will be done. This response works really well for me at home, but this should never be the response you get from your developer. Your developer will give you a timeline of the work that is needed and when to expect it all to be completed, tested, fixed (if there are any bugs present), and deployed in your live site. Of course, situations do arise where a timeline needs to be adjusted, and that may just be because of the nature of the work needed, or if someone goes on vacation, for example.
A developer will communicate with you if they feel a timeline isn’t realistic for a project scope. This doesn’t mean that their skill level isn’t up to par. You can have something done quickly, or done well. If they say a longer timeline needs to be created, it could be because they want to do a project well, so you don’t have to worry about it or need to rebuild it in the future.
Having an accurate or at least detailed timeline will also help determine the scope of the budget required for your project. Without a timeline, a project might drag on, destroying your budget and causing you to abandon a project.
A developer will send you an estimate for the proposed work for you to either approve, or reject. This should outline the specific tasks to be completed, the hourly rate, if applicable, the estimate description, the number of hours needed to complete the tasks, and the total cost. If your estimate doesn’t include rates, or descriptions of tasks, ask for them before proceeding.
The estimate might seem awfully expensive. How could it cost this much? It’s not to scare you, I promise. A developer generally aims high with an estimate, just in case there are unexpected developments or blockers present. This is common across multiple fields. Think of house renovations. Things cost more than expected. It also happens with your website. What you may think of as a simple fix is actually a lot more complicated, and takes an entire day to explore an handle. Maybe there’s bad code, or the developer discovers that you need a new host.
Technical debt, something we’ve discussed in a previous post, will delay the deadline for your project, and increase your budget. It’s basically code that was written quickly, but not well. Technical debt can create inconsistencies, poor structures, and bug fixes that can render a site unusable. The more technical debt your developer finds, the work needed to fix the code and get your site to a good place. But a good developer will keep you abreast of the situation, which leads me to my next point.
You may have noticed that all of these points have something in common. They all involve communication. If there’s poor communication, nothing is going to get done. Communication goes both ways. It’s up to everyone to communicate regularly, and effectively. If you have a special channel in which to communicate, checking it daily will probably answer a lot of questions about updates, tasks, and any blockers a developer may encounter. Keeping everyone in the same channel, along with all rapport, helps to avoid confusion. Private messages should be avoided. If there are still regularly occurring private conversations, adding those people conversations to the primary communications page, or at least summaries and breakdowns of discussions, will keep everyone on the same page, and help propel the project forward.
Breaking Down the Basics
Paying attention to these three points will immensely improve your developer/client experience. Eliminate some of the stress when working on a project, and instead forge a creative and cohesive working relationship.