Getting maximum value from your web development partner


In the course of my work with brand managers, I’ve noticed a common set of complaints about web developers in general: we’re poor communicators, we seem to miss obvious details and we’re expensive.

While I am sure there are some truly unreliable teams out there, I can’t help but think that a lot of this missed expectation comes from a lack of understanding. In the spirit of progress, I’d like to share some insight on how I think you can get maximum value from your web development partner:

1. Show us your passion and vision
As web developers (and even marketing professionals), we have to live vicariously through you. Our mission is to help your mission succeed, so hearing what you’re working on and why it matters is extremely important to us. Besides, understanding what the end goal is extremely helpful to us because it gets our creativity flowing as we try to solve the micro-problems that pop up throughout web project. The next time you’re meeting with your web developer, be sure to spend a few moments up front talking about the “why” before you jump right to the “what.”

2. Remember: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure
The biggest source of waste in a web project is not usually slowness or poor workmanship but work done on the wrong thing. We can work nights and weekends to get a job done for you, but if it turns out that we misunderstood what was supposed to be built in the first place, the work that was off ends up being wasted. It can be painful for both sides to sit through a lengthy meeting going over every little detail of the project, but remember: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

I’ve often felt like web design was like that “telephone” or “gossip” game we used to play as kids. You know — the game where one person starts by whispering something, but by the time it gets to the end of the line, the message is totally confused. Only with web design, it’s not a simple sentence but several paragraphs of intricate instruction. Of course it’s going to look a little different by the time it gets to the end of the line if we don’t take steps to communicate effectively. In an ideal scenario, that would include annotated wireframes and lengthy functional specs.

3. Set up regular check-in meetings
Web developers tend to be introverts, so meetings and phone calls don’t come as easily to us as they may to some. Solve this problem by establishing a schedule of meetings/status updates up-front that will keep you in the know about what’s happening with your project.

4. Express gratitude
A little bit of gratitude goes a long way. We once had a client bring in a pizza as a surprise for the development team when they were in the middle of a big project. Let’s just say I’ve never seen so much good will purchased for so little money.

And for all you web developers out there, I quite like an article I read on Happy Cog a while back of how to combat the opposite effect.

Good luck out there!