Have you got any tips on how to deal with web developers?

This article first appeared on May 18th, 2011.


Have you got any tips on how to deal with web developers?


I come from a very different background (finance) and I don’t seem to be able to talk their language.


I’m concerned that this will hold up our website build.



The unspoken truth of web development is that without exception it will take longer and cost more to get the job done than what you will be quoted.


In the process of the development process, you as the client will evolve your thinking as to what you need/want and this will always extend the scope of the job.


Make sure you agree up front on a process for “changing scope”, and always factor in 20% cost and time over-runs for whatever you are being quoted.


Dealing with web developers is an art, not a science and the make-up of the development team is crucial.


Are they designers as well? Are they wedded to a particular style of development? Is there a project manager or are you dealing directly with the developers themselves?


That said, there are some basics that will help you minimise negative issues:

  1. Be clear about your business objectives and develop for those, rather than for something subjective like style or aesthetics.
  1. Try and work with data and not personal taste.
  1. Give feedback from the context of the business objective, not your own opinions: “How does this site/design help us achieve our business goals”?
  1. Agree up front on how you deal with expansions to budgets/plans/timeframes.
  1. Don’t let things linger. The sooner you communicate with your web developer, the less likely you’ll be to get sideswiped by a disagreement.
  1. Always ask the stupid questions if you don’t understand something. Keep asking questions until it’s clear in your mind. Don’t feel like you need to pretend you understand the language of web developers if you don’t.
  1. Remember, web-developers don’t like doing bad work. You both want an awesome result and you should operate on that basis.


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