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    9 Replies Latest reply on Aug 20, 2011 1:47 AM by Jack Dozen

    How to Effectively Communicate with a Web Developer

    modernbusines Adventurer
      Hello All,

      I have recently written this article for the Modern Business Life website (, and I thought that the folks on this board might enjoy it. If this helps you, be sure to check out this article and many other similar ones at the previously mentioned website as well. I hope you enjoy!

      How to Effectively Communicate with a Web Developer


      Modern Small businesses use the Internet for various vital functions such as communicating with their customers, building value on top of their offline services, growing their company's brand and seeking out new client, or simply carrying out online transactions such as billing. Regardless of the use, it is likely, unless your own a web design company, that you or someone working for you will need to interact with a web developer or web development firm. This interaction can sometimes be difficult because you may not know the right questions to ask, or how to request that specific work be completed. This article seeks to discuss how a small business owner should efficiently interact with a web developer in order to get the most accurate and beneficial outcome.



      What's on the Menu?


      The first point I would like to discuss is how to request "what" you would like done. It is very important that you know specifically what you would like to have done prior to approaching a developer for a work order. This does not mean that you should know how to do it, but rather, you know what you want the end result to be. It is not simply enough to as a developer to "bring my website up to date". This will not yield good results, as "up to date" is incredibly vague. Additionally, now you've opened a door for an ambitious developer to do all kinds of work (some needed, and some not), and charge you for every last bit of it. It is your responsibility to define the work that need to be completed to reach the outcome that you desire. This is not, nor would you want it to be, the job of the developer.


      To illustrate the point, image that you are in a restaurant. The waiter comes over and asks you what you would like to eat. You would not tell them to try and figure what you want to eat (this would be shooting in the dark), rather you would give them very specific directions. That being said, the waiter may give you some suggestions, but ultimately it will be your call to determine what the outcome of the situation (aka, the order) should be.


      Ensure that you have thought through your requests, and the desired outcome prior to approaching a web developer for a work order. This will make your communication far more efficient, and the result far more accurate.


      Define the Duration of the Request


      After agreeing on the work to be completed, define when you would like it to be completed. Do not ask when it will be completed, tell the developer when you would like for it to be finished by. If the task will take longer than this amount of time, the developer will let you know. Negotiate the completion time from there. It is far easier to begin this conversation by suggesting a completion time, than by asking. The worst thing that you can do (and, yes... this happens) is to leave the conversation without determining when the work is expected to be completed by. Any good developer will not let this happen, but if you would like the work done in a more timely manner, it often helps if you begin the discussion by suggesting when you would like for it to be completed by.


      Get an Itemized Quote


      Prior to having the developer begin the work, request an itemized quote that details the work to be completed, as well as the price that you agreed on. This quote can also be used as a way to define the scope of the request, and you can refer back to it once the request has been completed to ensure that all tasks were carried out. When obtaining this quote, ensure that both parties understand that any additional tasks that would alter the price that has been negotiated must be approved by you prior to moving forward with them. It is not uncommon in web development, that a task that was agreed upon ends up requiring other work that was not anticipated in order to complete it. However, ensuring that changes to the scope must be approved will keep you from getting hit with an unexpectedly large bill once the work has been completed. At least this will allow you to know any changes to the cost ahead of time, and budget accordingly.


      S.M.A.R.T Requests


      In conclusion, I'd like to refer to a goal setting method that can be easily applied to help you achieve the best results when dealing with a web developer. In goal setting, there is an acronym called S.M.A.R.T. This methods calls for ensuring that when setting personal goals, you make them SPECIFIC, MEASURABLE, ATTAINABLE, REALISTIC, and TIMELY. The same acronym can be applied to requesting work from a web developer. If the request you are making does not align with the majority of the aforementioned characteristics, you should probably put some more time into thinking about your request prior to making it in order to avoid loss of time, money, and patience.
        • Re: How to Effectively Communicate with a Web Developer
          Iwrite Pioneer
          Great advice. I think it will really help. Thanks.

          • Re: How to Effectively Communicate with a Web Developer
            DomainDiva Ranger
            What about the web site architecture? The client and the web developer have to come to a meeting of the minds on exactly what the site is supposed to do, only then can time and money be discussed.
              • Re: How to Effectively Communicate with a Web Developer
                modernbusines Adventurer
                Agreed. This is part of the Client defining what the end result should be (aka, what the development should achieve). Far too often, clients go to developers without thinking it through, and they look to the developer to tell them what they want.

                The client should go through the thought process ahead of time, and determine what they want to achieve with the website or website enhancement. The developer can then be responsible for the technical side of how that will happen.
              • Re: How to Effectively Communicate with a Web Developer
                Aries1 Newbie
                This is extremely helpful. Thanks. I am in the process of changing my website and have benchmarked one of the famous fashion houses' site. I have asked for quotes, and it is interesting what i am getting. I currently live in Lima Peru and not very fluent with Spanish, so I decided to try a US company. The local company is asking for $1500 for exactly which I want (based on the itemized quote they sent) and the US company is asking $8500 for the same thing. They said since my budget is low, I should only do something basic, meaning all the fancy things I showed them, they are asking me to forego. (here comes their its my call.) I have told the locals that I am reviewing other quotes, and they have come back to say they are willing to reduce their price. How can I get them to show me exactly what they have quoted, just to make sure the fancy things I am requesting is what they are actually quoting?
                  • Re: How to Effectively Communicate with a Web Developer
                    Iwrite Pioneer
                    If I understand you correctly, the local company bid $1500 and the US company $8500, and now the local is offering further discounts.

                    Ask them for a detailed quote that reflects what you are asking for. Please understand that the latest and greatest technology comes at a price. People charging more tend to do so because they have the skill set to match their prices. The better the designer and programmer, the higher their rates. As a writer, I know what I am worth and I do not tend to go back and forward over my rates. All designers and programmers are not the same.

                    You need to ask for samples that they have done that is the same as what you are asking for. Never assign work without knowing that people doing the job can actually deliver on what you want. And only samples can show that. Ask for two or three references and contact them.

                    Charges for services vary greatly due to the economic conditions of where the company is. That is why we have seen a lot of cheap work coming out of India. Some of this cheap work has been great and some has not been. Be careful and ask a lot of questions.

                    Good luck.
                  • Re: How to Effectively Communicate with a Web Developer
                    rob Wayfarer

                    Your article on how to communicating with a web developer is great.  I think this holds true with anything internet marketing related.  I think the  most important part that you forgot to mention is to decide on what your budget is before you start shopping around.  Sometimes we want bigger things than we can afford.  You also need to remember that if you are wanting something specific, you may not be able to afford it and you may need to compromise until you can.  Website design, email marketing design, landing page design, blog design, etc... is as simple or as complicated as building a house.  A modular home might have a base price.  Once you start adding the crown molding, hardwood floors, etc... your price goes up.  The same thing with internet marketing design. Remember that you usually get what you pay for.  If someone is quoting you a low ball offer, they probably aren't including all of the customization that you think you will be getting.

                    • Re: How to Effectively Communicate with a Web Developer
                      Moderator Jim Ranger

                      Great advice, keep it coming!



                      • Re: How to Effectively Communicate with a Web Developer
                        Jack Dozen Newbie

                        Too informative and superb sharing this is that i ever found
                        really nice thread it is.