Before hiring a web designer you need to make sure that there are no communication barriers that might turn into obstacles later down the road. Especially when hiring someone on platforms like oDesk or Elance you need to ensure efficient communication with your web designer, so that your project can be finished efficiently.
When I was new into the freelancing world I had to learn a lot about communicating with web design clients and coaching students. It's not as easy as it seams, because as a web designer I have to guide my clients in making decisions that affect their businesses in the long term. I need to know the answer if they have a question about the website layout, about certain elements on the website, or about aligning their new website with their business strategy.
That's why this episode of JK TV is very important to me. I truly think this episode can save you lots of money and time when working with a web designer.
Common Communication Barriers
Make sure that there's no language barrier between you and your web designer. This might sound basic, but often you'll find web designers on freelancing platforms that only have very limited understanding of your language. Get on the phone or Skype with them and speak to them before hiring a web designer.
It's likely that you're hiring a web designer who's located in a different time zone than you are. Scheduling calls, and waiting for immediate responses to emails is one of the most common communication barriers, and it's caused by time zone differences. When working with a web designer you want to make sure that you can get responses to your questions fast and that you can schedule calls with your web designer regularly - at times that are convenient for both sides.
Low priority for your project
Another example for a common communication barrier is when the web designer assigns low priority to your project, because he's working on other, maybe more profitable, projects with bigger clients. This may result in low quality results, slow communication, and a non-satisfying working climate with your web designer. To avoid that your project becomes a low-priority task for your web designer, ensure that he's excited about your project. Find a web designer who understands the importance of your project and does not treat as one client of many.
When you're describing your requirements for the new website, be as specific as you can. Advice like "I want the website to look good" or "I want it to be better than site x,y,z." won't work, because they don't give clear descriptions of what you want your web designer to do. Think of the requirements as foundation of your business, your web designer can only do his best work (that you'll like) when he knows what to do and what you like. Non-specific requirements are probably the most common of all communication barriers.
The best way to avoid communication barriers in your web design projects is to give examples. Either show off websites that you like and that you want your web designer to use as foundation when it comes to coloring, layouting, or use of specific elements. Or use sketches and wireframes to showcase exactly what you want your web designer to create for you.
Leave no room for interpretations
When defining your requirements make sure that you leave no room for interpretations. As soon as a requirement is not clearly defined, you and your web designer might understand it differently. For example, you might want an opt-in form to look a certain way, while your web designer thinks you want it to look in a different way. Leave no room for these misunderstandings and be as concise as you can.
Communicating Project Details
Define clear milestones
What specific milestones does your project have? Do you want your web designer to create wireframes and a prototype before working on the end result? Or do you expect to see a finished website directly (please don't hire me then)? Set those milestones together with your web designer to avoid misunderstandings and wrong expectations.
Any website project should have several deadlines associated to each milestone and of course to the finished website. Most communication barriers I've come across could have easily been avoided by setting clear deadlines in the project.
Define communication channels & routines
It's important for you to identify on what channels and routines you communicate on with your web designer. I have weekly calls with my clients to ensure that they're updated on the progress and I truly think that you need to know exactly how and when you can communicate with your web designer to get information about the project status.