Looking to maximize your developers potential? Then look no further. Over the course of putting out content on our blog, we’ve provided quite a few tips before. All focused on making sure you have the best project possible. We’ve covered things like how to handle a rush job, concepting and ideation with your designer, remembering how to handle edits, and how to not annoy you and your designer. 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. I’d like to expand on that a bit further. These are the top things that have made projects easier to accomplish and more successful. Make sure you have these with your project to be as successful as possible.
Having a style direction is so important. You might think these are just for branding, and you are partially right. But products need branding too! Making sure you have a style direction during product development will help the product look its best and stay on-brand for you. This isn’t a huge branding project, it just provides the minimum required to guide a designer. Often this starts with an inspiration board done by the designer, then we can create a style guide. 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 are Brand Guidelines, a combination of both a Brand Book and Identity Guidelines (read: grown up version of a style guide).
Brand Guidelines are something often used at a company level. They define every part of a business and its products. We love working on these as we can really get into the heart of a brand. Of course, this requires 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. It also tells you how to use, relate, and share the brand, and what it is at its core. These Guides can be easily 40+ pages. If you are launching a new product, branding should be developed alongside the product. Even a quick style guide can allow your developer to spend more time on other parts of development instead of as much in branding or aesthetics.
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 nowhere near as clear as marking up a screen shot, drawing, render, etc with notes and ideas. The one time you should send paragraphs is for copy edits. That one no one wants to get pictures for. 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.
Your developers potential to be the best possible is tied closely to 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. Have a communication plan with your developer, the good ones will tell you what they typically use. Often this ranges from once a week to once a month, depending on project needs and what stage you are at.
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. Plus, you’ll be able to find what you were thinking or needing easier! I suggest using some kind of digital note taking so it’s searchable, or use a good system for note taking where you are able to find your notes again easily. Something like the Bullet Journal method is a good place to start finding your own method.
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. If you don’t think they are expert enough to come up with good solutions, don’t hire them! It amazes me how many people hire a developer or designer, then tell them what to do. In Steve Jobs words, ““It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do. We hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” 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.
Really maximize your developers potential
These are the top tips to help you maximize your developers potential. Don’t use just one, use them all. I can’t stress the importance of communication enough, it’s quite possibly the most important part. Maximizing your developers potential 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.