When working on your website project it's important to find the right way to communicate your ideas and wishes. Communicating with developers and designers can be a bit different from interacting with colleagues or other stakeholders. You need to be efficient and clear but that's not always enough to bridge the communication gap and take your website idea to reality. In this text we'll guide you on how to communicate better with developers and designers and show you how to give feedback the right way.

Graphic illustration of two heads, one with a light bulb and with a cog, with a questions mark in between,  showing how confusing it can be to communicate with a developer

1. Understand the context of your project and do research

Understand what level of knowledge is required of you

The amount of knowledge you need and how much work the website project will require from your end depends on what type of service you have acquired and what type of project you are working on.

If you are developing a completely new website, it's important to know if you are working with an experienced agency that will give you a complete service and support, or if you are working with a developer where you need to take a more active part.

Who you chose to work with is often a question of what prior knowledge and experience you have in combination with your budget in terms of time and money. Regardless of what you chose you need to adapt your communication and your expectations depending on who you interact with.

Do research to understand the context

Even if you are working on a smaller project with a developer or designer that has a lot of experience you need to know the basics. By doing some research you can understand the basics of the web site designs or development process, so you don't go into a project blind.

Web designers might talk about IA, UI, UX, wireframes, etc. Don't worry you don't need to understand all the concepts in detail but doing some background work by simply googling will give you a basic understanding. If there is something you don't understand, ask questions. Ask your designer or developer to elaborate and explain. It is important that you are all on the same page.

2. Understand your needs to be able to collaborate

Come with a clear goal and explain your needs

When you start the work on your website project you need to have a clear goal and a good understanding of your needs. This is essential to be able to communicate and collaborate with your developer. Explain what you want and why so the developer can understand the underlying need.

If you can clearly explain why you have a certain need to your developer or designer, they will have a better understanding, and fuller picture, which enables them to help you better.

Use the knowledge of the designer or developer by asking questions

The designer or developer you hired knows more about their expert field than you do. You are not bothering them by asking questions. Asking for opinions and recommendations is very valuable. Use the knowledge of the persons you have chosen to work with. Maybe there is a better, faster or easier way of doing the same thing.

By asking for the developer's opinion, you may be able to avoid common mistakes when developing and designing a website. Listen and be open to your developers' ideas. If you manage to work together as a team co-creating your project, it will have a much higher chance of success. Be involved and thorough in all decisions. If you need to take more time to think or research some elements do so and set a new meeting.

Be decisive, take decision to move forward

Be decisive in your communication with the developer or designer. In the end you are the one who takes the final decision about what is being developed or designed. Use the input from your expert and discuss ideas but in the end, you are the one taking the decision and decisions will have to be made to move forward.

3. Give specific, visual feedback with clear notes

Be as clear and specific when giving feedback

Giving specific feedback is maybe one of the most important things to keep in mind when communicating with a developer. If you say, “the design doesn't look modern” What do you mean with that? Give clear examples and be specific with both the problem and the solution. Is it the color choices or the font of the headline that you find outdated?

The developer or designer can more easily find the solution for you if they understand the problem you are trying to solve. If you don't want any pop-ups on your website, don't just say “I don't believe in pop-ups”. Explain that you find them intrusive for your users and that you find websites that have several pop-ups diminished your personal experience. Chances are your designer have good ideas for how to leverage the benefits of pop-ups without it becoming annoying for the user. Or at least the designer or developer understands your choice and how you think.

Illustrate your feedback with screenshots and add notes

When you are giving specific feedback, send screenshots — you need to show what you mean. A picture is worth 1000 words! A screenshot with notes and drawing is much clearer than trying to explain it in writing.

Sign that says 1000 words

If you are giving feedback on a multi-step form or a moving element best is to send a screen recording to be clear. With a tool like Feedbucket, which requires zero installation on your end, you can easily record your screen and take screenshots directly on the website.

You can also add notes and drawings to your image to be even clearer. For example, if you have the Feedbucket tool active when reviewing the functionality of your website and you find that the link in the Call To Action box is broken, you can take a screenshot directly with Feedbucket without leaving your site. You can then add a note and send the feedback directly to your developer.

Feedbucket taking a screenshot.

4. Be constructive and stick to the original scope of the project

Don't change the scope of your website project

When reviewing your website project and giving feedback on the design or development you should not go back on the scope of the project. It's important to stick to the brief and the scope of the project that was originally agreed. You might have made decisions that changed some aspects of what you wanted, and things may not be perfect. But don't aim for perfection, stick with what has been discussed and determined.

When you're interacting with a designer or developer it's important to understand that budget and time frame shape what you will be able to expect. Keep the target audience in mind and the final goal with what you wanted to achieve. Having a finished project that meets what you really need is much more valuable than getting hung up on details.

The review process is not the time to make big changes to your website project. If you want to make changes that are not within the scope of what has been agreed, you may not have the right too or it will require more budget and time.

Be nice and constructive when giving feedback

Treat the person you work with, whether it's a developer or designer, like you would like to be treated. The golden rule very much applies to working with the people helping you with your website project.

Don't be too harsh, focus on how the designer or developer can improve and remember to also give positive feedback. It's easy to focus on what you see is wrong and forget to also give credit where credit is due.

Don't expect the first draft of a website development or design to be perfect. The process of reaching the final product takes time and often some back and forth. This is normal and good as you can steer the project in the right direction working together with the expert. Study each piece of the design or the development in detail and try to figure out what is important and block the project from reaching your desired outcome.

And remember, you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. Be nice and remember to say please and thank you 😊.

A fly and the word honey written in honey.

5. Conclusion

Communication is key when collaborating with a designer or developer and you need to adapt your communication. Interacting with people that have a different way of thinking and a different background requires some effort.

You need to have a clear goal for your website project to facilitate the communication around your project. It's also important to know how much support and help you can get from the designer or developer you are working with.

Ask questions to involve your expert in the development of the work. They know their domain better than you do but you also need to do some research to get a better understanding of the process. You need to be on the same page to be able to collaborate.

Always try to be clear and specific when giving feedback, images and videos are worth a thousand words. Illustrate feedback with annotated screenshots and videos. To facilitate this, use a feedback tool like Feedbucket