I’ve been on both sides — the developer someone brought in to code a site + hiring out a coding project to someone nerdier than I am. The truth is that coding is a completely different language (multiple languages, in fact) + that can make communication challenging.
But it doesn’t have to be a headache! In fact, bringing in a web developer for your WordPress project can keep your stress level low because you aren’t dealing with those technical tidbits that you hate.
#1 – Include them early
My biggest tip for working with a developer is to bring them in as early as possible. If you are paying an expert, why not use their expertise?
In a large scale website re-design project, this looks like having a conversation or two during the initial planning stage so that the developer can outline additional design requirements, explain the way they require files + update the client on potential license requirements that will impact their budget.
For a smaller scale project like adding new functionality to an existing site, including the developer early might mean simply giving them enough time to get familiar with your site. Or it could mean talking to them while your membership content is being written or your product is being edited.
#2 – Don’t make assumptions
I have a saying about assume that’s worse than “it makes an ass out of u + me.” mostly because making assumptions doesn’t end well in any circumstance.
When hiring someone else to do a project you don’t know how or want to do, don’t make assumptions about the work you’re asking them to do. This includes making comments about how hard or easy something is, what’s required to get something accomplished or the time needed to complete the work.
Instead of making assumptions, have open conversations with your developer about the project. Ask them what resources they’ll need (that includes time, money, + logins) + if there are any potential issues you aren’t thinking about.
#3 – Find out their way of communicating
This tip is a bit selfish because it’s one that is a big deal for me. While it may not be as important for other developers, I do know more than a handful of nerds who agree with me on this one.
When I work, it’s systematic + code mode is a structured thing. Plus, I have an anxiety disorder that makes phone calls really overwhelming to me. Which is why I ask my clients to email me the details, or schedule a phone call if we must talk.
All you have to do is ask.
Your developer might love phone calls but hate getting Slack messages. Or maybe they want you to use a specific project management system + reserve emails outside of it for new project conversations. Honor your needs too while recognizing that finding a good way to communicate will help avoid friction + misunderstandings as the project progresses.
#4 – Be specific
When it comes to the technical side of websites, one of the biggest roles a developer has is that of testing + solving problems.
If you come across a bug or problem with your site, you can save your developer a ton of time (which usually saves you money) by giving them as much info as possible.
But that doesn’t mean they need a novel of information, instead focus on the technical details like what browser were you using, what device you saw the problem on (iPhone, laptop, tablet) + include screenshots that show the full URL you were viewing too.
What this does is gives your developer the exact recipe to replicate the problem on their own device, which allows them to dig into the code directly + see what might be causing the issue. If they use the same variables you were using + can’t replicate the issue, then they know to look at bigger issues like internet connection or software you might have installed but they don’t.
#5 – Sing their praises
As tip #4 suggests, most developers have an onslaught of “this isn’t working” messages in their inbox. Not because they are bad at what they do, but because it’s such a large part of their job. Oftentimes you hire a developer when something goes wrong on your site + you don’t know how to fix it.
So if they save your website + prevent a handful of tasks from landing on your to do list, consider sharing how awesome they are.
That might look like sending a tweet out + tagging them, or posting in a Facebook group for other entrepreneurs that may need some nerdy help, or it could look like sending them a simple thank you email that they can save to their “praise” folder to look at when needed.
And if they didn’t knock your socks off, consider sharing some feedback with them. Maybe they didn’t realize you weren’t loving the silence between updates on the project or the lack of attention to detail on mobile devices. Plus, sharing the feedback gives them a chance to improve your experience as the project wraps up or if you need additional work from them in the future.
Bringing in a new team member adds some complexity to any project type. But doing a few simple things can help the nerd on the other end of the computer do their job better, and make things much easier on you.