Working With A Remote Developer
There are definitely benefits to being able to sit down face-to-face with your web developer. It allows both parties to better pick up on body language, tone and context of the discussion. Both sides get a gut-feel about the other and whether they will work well together. Or maybe if you’re mid-project and it is veering off-course, a face-to-face regroup may get the project back on track. These are good things!
But should not being able to meet face-to-face stop you from hiring a non-local developer?
Not necessarily. You’ll want to do your due diligence as you would for any other potential hire, but clients and developers can have a meaningful partnership even if they cannot meet IRL (in real life) as the kids say.
Positive client relationships are the backbone of my business. I offer to be my client’s technical partner, not just a web developer who comes in, gets the site running and then wipes their hands of it.
Here is what I do to build a successful long distance client partnership.
Open and Prompt Communication
I pride myself on responding to emails as quickly as I can. I feel like this is often overlooked but yet is one of the simplest value-adds I can give to my clients. To me it makes sense to offer my insight and get an answer back to my client in as timely manner as possible.
If you’re asking me a question that means there is information needed to get us to the next decision point. By responding in a timely manner we an move on to tackling the next need or decision point. My personal goal is to respond to all emails within 24 hours.
You won’t be waiting on me for answers.
Pick Up The Phone
I can’t stress the value of picking up the phone enough. No matter how fast response time is, if a couple of back and forths over email don’t clear up an issue, I’ll suggest we jump on the phone.
Some developers like to stay behind the computer and never talk to their clients directly. I’m not one of those designers. Effective communication means using methods that will yield our desired results.
When you pick up the phone you can resolve an issue in minutes. Try accomplishing that over email.
Don’t Be Afraid of Video Conferencing
The dreaded video call….have to look presentable, be prepared, be attentive…wait, this kind of sounds like an in-person meeting doesn’t it? Okay, I kind of set you up there.
Video conferencing is a powerful tool when working with clients, local or remote. Video calls allow both parties to build mutual trust quicker than a phone call. I always ask if the first conversation I have with a non-local client can be on video.
I find that both parties feel more accountable and invested when we meet eye to eye, setting a good foundation for the relationship.
Utilize Sharing Tools Effectively
I constantly think about ways I can make life easier on my clients. For clients who aren’t in the same area code sharing mockups can be a challenge. How do you collaborate and provide feedback in an effective way?
Enter Invision. Invision is a collaborative tool that has a ton of features that are great for working with far away clients.
For instance, after I create a mockup I can send you a link to it and the preview acts like a real website! The client can click links and navigate the site as if it were live. Switch on comment mode and you can easily click on the mockup and add a note. After the mockup is ‘red-lined’, I can look over the comments and respond to each.
Taking it even further is the LiveShare feature. I’m in love with this. If you’re in the corporate world and have heard of WebEx or Adobe Connect, this is essentially the same thing. Once I start LiveShare, I can share the link with multiple people and we all see the same screen at the same time. How cool is that?
And if there is more than one person I’m presenting to, LiveShare comes with a conference phone number. Everyone can call into this number and talk to each other while looking at the same screen together.
Pretty powerful stuff.
Collaborating in real-time makes the feedback process more efficient saving my clients time and money. I’ve found this especially useful when presenting a mockup for the first time.
After launching the site, website maintenance and eventual optimization is key to continuing your business’s success. Your website’s needs will evolve over time. And because we’ve been picking up the phone instead of staying on email, doing video calls when needed and fully utilizing the sharing tool Invision, we’ve built a level of trust that allows me to understand your business’s goals and what the website will need to do to deliver on them.
We’re a partnership. And as your partner I’m going to check in with you to make sure your website is functioning exactly as you expect and need it to.
Working remotely with a client does have its challenges, but by being responsive, picking up the phone, having a video call when needed and utilizing good sharing resources successful non-local client/developer relationships are more than just possible, they can excel.