Through the blogs I’ve written so far, there have been some tips that will help you to get the most out of working with your developer such as here, here, here, and here. When you spend money on doing something right, you want to make sure that you are getting the best service possible and that you are helping the process, not hindering it. These are things that have made every project that has had them more successful and easier to accomplish. Here are 5 ways you can maximize your developers time and value.
Style Direction. If you have one of these, it will help guide the aesthetic portion of the product development. This is in it’s smallest form a collection of images of products that show a style direction. A little more from there is a Style Guide, a short document, 1-2 pages that goes over colors, fonts, logo, and maybe a couple other items. At the other end of the spectrum is a Brand Book. This is something often used at a company level, and can define every part of a business, and its products. This includes a large amount of work to put together and covers almost any conceivable branding a company might use. Logos, colors, logo placement, fonts, special items, packaging layout, company ethos, design rules and guides. These documents can be easily 20-40 pages. Anything in this spectrum, from some reference images to a Brand Book, would help your developer. Often in the product development process, branding is developed as a part of it, and if it’s even loosely guided at the start, it can allow your developer to spend more time on other parts of development instead of as much in branding or aesthetics.
Redlines. This is something I have struggled with the most often with clients. These need to be given to your designer in some form because visual edits are the most clearly understood. Redlines aren’t just for technical work. While they are heavily used by engineers in drafting and manufacturing documentation, redlines are really any visual markup of something to show what should be changed. Trying to send paragraphs of edits is no where near as clear as marking up a screen shot, drawing, render, etc with notes and ideas. You don’t have to be good at sketching, just give something more than words to describe what you are thinking. Redlines are key to making sure changes are made correctly.
Communication. Be on top of it. Respond as quickly as you can, and make sure you set expectations early on about your response availability. If your developer can plan ahead for when you’ll be able to communicate, it will help them plan around your needs. Clear and frequent communication is best, but don’t constantly email your developer either, you want them working not checking your emails. It’s common practice to have a weekly check-in or at each phase for review. Talk with your developer up front about this so you don’t feel ignored, and everyone has their expectations set.
Write everything down. Have an idea? Write it down. Have an edit? Write it down. Your developer is probably used to writing everything down, but we’re all human. If you write down everything that you want, changes, edits, ideas, suggestions, etc. it will be easy for everyone to reference them, especially if they are in email form. We live in a digital world and have busier and busier lives. Helping your developer by writing everything makes it easier for them to remember what you need and keeps you both from spending time trying to remember what was needed. This also makes sure there is no he said she said arguments about what should happen.
Listen to the their ideas. The whole point of having a developer or designer working on the project is to let their expertise create the best possible version of your project. Don’t come with the problem and solution and then ignore their input. You are paying for their design and development expertise, so take advantage of it. They usually have an idea that looks, feels, and works better than the solution you thought of.
These are some things to keep in mind that will help you maximize your developers potential. I can’t stress the importance of communication enough, it’s the most key part. Maximizing your developer means faster turnaround times, less confusion, clearer edits, and a better final product. These points, plus finding the best developer you can afford will set you up for success.