When people think of websites they hardly think how their number has exponentially grown in recent years. When we look at data, we see that in 1991 there was only 1 website out there. Three years later there were fewer than 3000 websites, while today we account for more than 1 billion of them. And WordPress powers up around 27% of all these websites, with an impressive market share around content management systems.
These numbers confirm a digital shift we all have been living through. And businesses aren’t immune to this either, thus they are continuously looking for new services, products, and online channels to reach more customers and users. But not all businesses have in-house developers or marketers to take care of their needs.
Think of this: are you planning a new product launch? Do you have an old website that scares away your customers, stopping conversions? Perhaps you need a new subscribers-only area to share premium content?
Well, all these questions have one thing in common: they all require a professional WordPress developer to be involved. And when you don’t have access to one, or those you have are overwhelmed by their to-dos, you might want to work with WordPress freelancers.
So how can you work effectively with a WordPress developer on your projects?
The answer is pretty straightforward: with your project brief, a compound document made up with all the needed information related to your project that both you and your developer would need to agree on.
A good project brief will make your life easier. A great one will make your developer fall in love working with you. Why? Well, because a well-structured, thorough and informative brief provides all the answers to their questions in advance.
How to create a project brief for your next WordPress project
The more you follow these tips throughout your next project, the more you’ll see how working with and managing WordPress freelancers can actually become a powerful strategy for your business. Let’s now see how to create one.
Set your goals with tangible outcomes
Before you even start looking for a developer, list what you’d like to achieve through a given project and your desired outcomes. The more precise you can dig into these, the more clearly you’re able to share what you have in mind with the developer you’ll soon start working with. Try to avoid generic and broad goals and opt for more specific ones such as “I’d like to increase the number of subscribers”, or “I’d like to increase the visitor/page ratio” .
Set reasonable deadlines
You set deadlines each day in your life: you need to pick up your kids at 4pm, you have to finish that email and send it before lunch, etc. When working with developers it’s the same principle, but if you set unreasonable deadlines — like I-needed-this-yesterday type of deadlines — well you’d find it hard to work with a professional developer because they most likely will try to stay away from these type of projects.
Note: I’m not saying short deadlines always end with low interest from developers. I’m stressing here the importance of not forgetting we’re human beings and things take time to get done.
Share your design and aesthetics preferences
When working with a developer on a new project, even if you already shared goals with them, the more information you share, the better they’d be able to understand what you have in mind. This is why adding examples and resources such as mockups, sketches and such are not mandatory but recommended to leave misunderstandings at the door.
Share insights on your target audience
One type of information that frequently is left out but could have a dramatic impact on achieving (or missing) your desired goals is to whom you’re targeting your website. With this often-missed information at hand, developers can better evaluate different solutions and aspects that have to do with design, technology, and UX to name just a few.
Define success criteria
When putting some efforts on any activity, it should always be the case for you to see if what you implemented did provide you with results. In a more technical way, you should always be able to see if a new log-in form for example actually increased the number of logged-in users.
These type of metrics are usually called Key Performance Indicators (KPI) and some examples could be “Increase the number of downloads of our free guide”, or “Improve the User Experience”
Even though success criteria aren’t deal breakers, adding them to your brief will convey a more professional message to a developer and would make them think “This client knows what they need”.
Don’t undermine the developer’s experience
This is the only “don’t” out of all the tips but it’s super important. Don’t forget you’re asking for help to professionals and yes even if you’re the one paying them, there’s no need to be rude or disrespect them. I’m not thinking about you shouting and swearing out loud of course. What you should pay attention to is to never undermine a developer’s experience by using some of the following sentences in your brief:
- “This should be easy”
- “This should take very little time”
- “I know this can be done in X hours”
These are red-alert type of sentences that ring a huge and noisy bell in any developer’s mind and urge them to stay away from your project.
Wrapping things up
A project brief is a threefold tool each business should be aware of, mostly if you are a solopreneur. On one end, sitting down to write a brief forces you to focus on what you actually need to achieve and lower the chance of asking (and paying) for things that weren’t planned, nor required.
On another, having the brief in a written format provides both you and your developer a common ground for any future discussion. Deadlines, budget, things to be implemented and so on should be all clearly described, as if things were to go wrong, there’s a reference for both parties involved to discuss and act on.
Third and last, a clear and thorough brief is as useful to a developer to allow them to plan the work ahead as it is to you, the business owner who’s now able to plan when everything would be ready, along with the budget needed.
Being good at project briefing takes time but it directly relates to the quality you’d get. Therefore, spending time on it should be considered as a long-term business investment.