When you're about to hire a WordPress developer, you might be thinking the quality of your project ultimately sits on their lap. I'm sorry to burst your bubble, but that's completely wrong.
"Why would you say that, Matteo? Surely the better a developer is at their job, the better their work will be!" you object.
I'm sorry to tell you: you're wrong, again.
And here's the main reason why: you're making a risky presumption that all falling outside your developer's control fits perfectly into place. Specifically, this approach when working with outsourced developers assumes that all the details have not only been outlined but also that they’re perfectly understood and agreed upon by both parties. The same holds true for all the nitty-gritty technical work that would be involved, as well as a shared timeline and costs.
These are some things that those who are considering hiring outsourced developers for the first time often fail to realize.
But, hey, don't despair because I've put together this list of the 4 most common mistakes first-timers make when starting a new outsourced WordPress project.
Want to know what are they? I’ll bet you do... so let's dive in!
Mistake #1: Lack of proactive communication
Communication is the cornerstone of every relationship and as a person hiring the services of an outsourced developer, it is of utmost importance that you absolutely nail this commonly overlooked aspect.
You know, working with remote developers brings in a different - for some people even a new - type of environment in which all the work will be discussed, approved, and ultimately delivered. Dynamics change, especially if compared to working with in-house employees at your office.
A minor misunderstanding that could be easily overcome by a quick chat in your office, might link to a delay in having your project started with a remote developer. But delays aren’t the worst thing that can happen: miscommunications and unclear requests might lead to unnecessary work (or an improper prioritization of it), resulting in you having to pay for something you wouldn't need in the first place.
That's why you should double down on making sure all of your communications are as clear and exhaustive as possible. And, on top of it, you must require your WordPress developer to do their part: you should expect them to communicate their plans and how they intend to execute them with you, in an efficient manner. WordPress Developer and Codeable expert Nathan Reimnitz elaborates:
I can completely understand where you're coming from as a new client who's never outsourced a project before and now you're wondering: 'How do I even know what this guy is working on? Is he actually doing what he says he's going to do?' This brings us back to the importance of communication; ongoing, thorough, and informative communication is as important for the developer as it is for the client.
Communication is related directly to the success of any project and it's the strongest tool in your hands to ensure you're delivered what you expected.
Mistake #2: Too many "check-ins"
As vital as an ongoing communication is, not being too persistent is equally important. When you're working with an outsourced developer it becomes somewhat of a necessity for them, more than it is for you, to let you in on their objectives. That doesn't have to occur every hour but a good developer will at least keep you briefed on their day-to-day progress.
Excessive communication is counter-productive at both ends. It distracts your developer and causes them to lose focus from completing the actual work you’ve hired them for in the first place. What would be great, as Nathan reminds us:
It's not necessary to check in with your developer every 15 minutes, or even every hour. It’s important to understand that the time your developer spends responding to your messages is time taken away from them actually working on solving your problems because now they're spending that time replying to you instead. So as a client, I’d encourage you to try and exercise some patience, at least to a certain degree, and wait for your developer to communicate with you. I think you'll find that on Codeable you are always very well-communicated with and you're always in the loop.
Mistake #3: Over-engineering little things (and delaying your project)
In the world of web development, certain software and tools exist to help you keep track of extensive projects. Asana, Trello, Jira, Basecamp are some of the names you've probably heard of because they represent some of the most well-known project management tools. However, these tools come with tons of advanced features that, when working with a single freelance developer on small projects, could just be "too much" and get in your way.
What I mean here for small projects is tasks such as:
- Creating a landing page
- Adding a new form on a page
- Adding a slider plugin
- Adding a security plugin
- Configuring a new plugin
As Nathan further exemplifies:
When it comes to managing small projects, or solving small problems, I think that using your aforementioned project management tools adds an unnecessary layer which has negative impacts on efficiency. In these scenarios, it would be much easier (and faster) for a client to check in with their developer directly for a progress report.
The moral here to learn is that project management tools could be a little too much for some types of projects. Often times, a well-crafted checklist will do the work perfectly for you.
If you really want to be 100% sure that every aspect will be covered and all your requests addressed, then I’d encourage you to create a list of them, share it with your developer, and ask them to add all the technical aspects for the project and any other missing aspects they see fit. This way you'll be able to assess whether everything has been delivered (or you can have it checked by your in-house developers).
Note: having a shared list of deliverable has shown to be a very productive way to complete a project and that's why many of our recurring clients often start with a discovery phase for their new projects.
Mistake #4: Lack of trust
At the end of the day, no relationship can work without a little bit of trust. Of course, the trust factor is built by efforts from both sides. If you're using Codeable, that trust building element is completely demanded to the platform and its core requirements (learn more about that in our whitepaper).
We know it can be hard to trust developers right off the bat, that's where our thorough pre-screening process, paired with proactive Customer Support and the escrow-based way of handling funds are key parts to the whole Codeable experience.
Trust is a mutual relationship between you and the developer you hire. Both parties involved have to do their homework: you have to communicate your expectations and what you need effectively, then your developer will keep you posted on all latest developments based on a shared timeline you both agreed on up front.
As Nathan highlights:
If you're the kind of client that needs that hourly communication, that’s okay, but please share this in your initial project brief so that developers better understand your preferred communication pattern before engaging in your project. Honestly, it’s as simple as this: 'Hey, this is my expectation. I need an update (even if it's only one line) just to know you're still there.' The more honest and open you are about your expectations going into a new project the fewer surprises you’ll have along the way.
The very first time you do something new, it usually ends up going a bit worse than you planned because you didn't know what was going to happen next. Still, that doesn't mean you won't be able to successfully score a great project when outsourcing it (or any part of it) to a remote developer.
Knowing in advance what are the most prevalent types of issues that first-timers might experience gives you a solid leg up which can help make it easier for you to take "the leap" into your very first successfully outsourced project!
Nathan Reimnitz is top performing WordPress expert with an amazing reputation amongst his clients and colleagues on Codeable. Apart from being a rockstar freelancer, Nathan also gives back to the freelance community at large through his writings on his blog, and many other well-regarded online publications.