4 Tips for Working with Designers & Developers

As an online store-owner, you’ll often find yourself outsourcing design, development and content creation jobs to freelancers. There’s a certain level of trust that must exist between yourself and the person you are giving responsibility to create something for your business. Finding the right person for the job from the multitude of available options can be daunting.

Luckily Shopify has done some of the vettings for you with Shopify Experts. These are trusted freelancers and agencies that know and understand the Shopify platform. They are also independently rated by those who work with them! Choosing the right person for the job is half the battle though.

How can you effectively and efficiently collaborate with them for the perfect outcome? Read the simple but effective things you can do to ensure your next collaboration is a fruitful one.

1. Communicate Clearly

What problem are you trying to solve?

Whether it’s a design or development challenge, be clear about it. There’s a difference between telling a designer or developer what you want to be solved and how they should do it. Leave it to the experts to come up with a solution.

For example, let’s say you need a new hero image for your home page. Rather than telling them exactly what that image should look like, tell the designer what the message of the image needs to be. Should it talk about a promotion? Display a new product? Or do you want it to communicate something else entirely?

It’s a little different for developers, as unless you’re a coder yourself, you probably won’t be able to tell them how to solve a problem. Which is probably for the best, as it’s best to leave developing to the experts.

Whether you’re communicating with designers or developers, set clear guidelines and expectations. With our customers, we have the Carson Dash where they can get in touch with their designer or developer, see previous messaging and see active and inactive tasks. It’s our unique way of communicating with our clients and giving them control of the project.

2. Write a Creative Brief

A creative brief is a document that creates a better understanding of the project a client and freelancer will be working on.

Drawing on Tip #1, the creative brief is another communication tool that covers topics like budget, deadlines, audiences and what assets the designer or developer is required to complete. It’s an important part of collaboration because it gives the freelancer all the information they need to be successful.

Rather than endless back and forth emails and questions, they are able to have everything they need to start the project. That is not to say that you can just fill out a creative brief and be done with it – the communication between the client and the designer/developer must be ongoing. This is especially true in larger projects, where questions and challenges are more likely to arise. Be prepared for things that were not addressed in the creative brief, as it is just a starting point.

3. Set Realistic Deadlines

A simple task can take a day or two, but larger projects can take weeks and even months to be completed. Larger projects will have several deadlines for deliverables and are more likely to run into creative challenges, so be kind and realistic.

You’re likely aren’t the only client a designer or developer is working with, and they’ll need to juggle your requests with whatever other projects they are involved in. If you’re working with an agency and multiple people are involved, that affects deadlines as well.

The digital world is very fast-paced, and it’s difficult to wait for results, but freelancers and agencies want to get the work done as fast as you do! Ask them for a deadline before you sign a contract and be realistic about giving a little leeway if needed.

4. Trust and Collaborate

As we mentioned, Shopify Experts are freelancers and agencies that are trusted by store owners to know the platform and deliver projects. So a certain level of trust already exists. The experts understand how important your business is to you, and a positive review could mean more clients for them in the future.

It’s normal to be slightly cautious – after all, you’re working with a stranger, handing over potentially confidential information and until you see their work you just don’t know how the project may turn out. On the other hand, you need the designer or developer to do their job, and your online store will benefit if they succeed.

Never have a me-vs-you mentality. You, as the client, are working together with a designer or developer towards a common goal. People tend to perform better when they are trusted rather than micro-managed, so daily check-ins are probably not necessary.

There are things you can do to make sure the designer or developer is someone you want to work with. A test task (paid, of course) is a great way to find out if the partnership is right for you. 

Finding the Right Person for the Project

If you’re thinking of working with someone to create or improve your Shopify store, pay attention to a designer’s or developer’s portfolio, but don’t base everything on it.

Reviews are also important, as are years of experience and response times. An agency’s or freelancer’s online reputation is as important to them as it is to the people who see it when looking for someone to complete their next project.

This system of social proof motivates everyone to work together and collaborate for the desired outcome. Do your due diligence, research if the designer or developer is right for you based on their skills and availability, and once you do commit to working together, put your trust in them.

Want to see how we improve the stores of customers on a daily basis? Check out our task catalog below.



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