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How to work with web developers

This can be a daunting task. But you will need to work with web developers / an agency if you are building a new site, require changes to your website or need to report online problems in Java Homework and don't have the skills in-house.

Here are tips I learnt in the past five years, while building new websites and amending existing one. These tips should help you save time and get a better communication with your web developers, to get the website you want.

Things you'll need

  • Know that a 'bug' means technical problem
  • Basic knowledge on how a website works

Meet the web developers

Do this first! It makes a huge difference to meet the web developers face to face. It always helps. It creates a nice relationship.

You could afterwards follow each other on Twitter or LinkedIn. Read their blog if they have one. Book regular phone meetings or Skype calls and quaterly face to face depending on how far away their office is.

Regular meetings will help you pick each others' brains and share tips on managing your website(s) to the best of its potential. It will help put each other's work in context. This is especially important if your organisation has had a restructure or rebrand or your web developer's agency has merged with another agency or the team has changed.

You might not attend his wedding but next time Martin does not answer your email right away, you'll know it's because he always goes swimming at lunch time.


You need changes to your website

Be specific. In order to start working on new functionality or a new 'button' on your site, developers need to have as much information as possible. You might want to make changes later on but they need a list of specifications to start with.

1. What do you need - give a brief description of the functionality

A new form, a new search function, a new page template... Put as many details as possible, from the number of results display to the size of a logo, to who would be able to access that information online to data management needed, etc. Keep in mind that they need context to do the work better and more quickly. If the developers realise that this is an important aspect of your business they will use their knowledge to advise you. Check your specification to make sure you have not made any assumptions. Something that's obvious to you may not be evident to the developer.

2. What is your budget

It is useful for developers to know if you have £100 to do this or £1,000, they can then offer alternative options.

3. What is your deadline

Give the date you'd like this done by, allowing time for testing before going live. Note that any changes to your original specifications will affect the cost but most importantly probably delay the end result.


You need to report a 'bug'

Don't call the web developers to say "the site is broken". They won't be able to help. In order to help, a web developer need to be able to replicate the error/problem. Check first of all you can replicate that bug by writing down the six following points. If you cannot reproduce the error it might just be a human error. For example if someone forgot to add .uk at the end of their email address.

1. Description of the issue

For example: I logged in as john.smith. who is a commenter

2. The steps / journey you took in order to experience the issue

For example: I went to this page - URL - then clicked on - URL- then started a new discussion - URL link.

3. Expected result

For example: I expected a new discussion thread to appear in the relevant forum.

4. Actual result

For example: Could not post new discussion and got error message after entering captcha.

5. Browser / operating system used

For example: using Internet Explorer 8. (It may be worth seeing if you can get the same error to happen in a different browser too and reporting this to the developer)

6. Screenshot of issue

Attached so the developer can see what you are seeing. (Ctrl + PrtScr - on most keyboards)

And always say thank you when the bug is fixed!


Managing expectations

Your website is important to you and you want it fixed now. But your web developers might have other clients they need to deal with or are already working on other priorities. It is useful to have the following in place:

  • What are the service level agreements (SLA). Find out how they will support your website and manage your queries and request.
  • Agree what is critical. Critical to you means "I want it done today" but in web developers terms it could means "affect all external users of the site". 
  • Agree what is low priority. It could be done in a few months or perhaps something only the web administrator need access to.

Find out and you'll be able to manage your expectations and those of your colleagues and web users. Finally make sure there is an internal process if the site goes down (blank page) so anyone in your office know who to call (name, phone numbers + emails).

Be aware that something that may seem simple to you, e.g. moving a button, may actually be quite a big job for the developers.

Further information

Who are they?

Web developers are software developers or software engineers who specialises in the development of World Wide Web applications. They could be focusing on the technologies sent to the client (HTML, JavaScript, CSS) or focus on the interaction between server-side frameworks, the web server, and a database system. (See Wikipedia definition).

They might be good at writing codes but they do not always have the experience from the web editor point of view.

Join networks

On LinkedIn, why not join the Web Manager group or the group created for the CMS (Content Management System, editing tool to edit your website) you are using.

Follow web editor and web developers on twitter and start sharing your tips.

Join the charitywebforum yahoo email group.

Project management tools

You might also benefit from a project management tool such as BaseCamp or Redmine. See 10 free tools for effective project management.



Page last edited May 09, 2019 History

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