Communicating With Your Programmer
I don't code, and I have never built my own website, even though I couple of them.
Here they are. One was built by Townsquare Interactive (the company that also owns TRI 102.5 and our whole cluster).
They've produced a lot of great things for me, and for every one of them, I have had to coach a programmer or designer on what I wanted, and in some cases, how to get there.
The great thing about this is that it requires me to write about myself, my offers, projects, products and beliefs. To write about them, I have to really decide what I stand for. I wrote about this process in a post that points out how just writing for our websites can improve our businesses and ourselves.
Along with some much needed introspection, the process also includes explaining just what we came up with in our soul searching to a programmer or designer. This takes me through various levels of what I think of myself and my business. In some cases, where I wasn't sure, I had to make it up. I had to decide what I was going to stand for in given situations. For me, beliefs drive behavior, so clarifying what my beliefs are (or what I want them to be) was invaluable.
Find a programmer who can listen
Some people think they know what you should want. I avoid people like this like the plague. Since this website, in many ways, is the introduction of me to the world, I will be the one who decides exactly how it should look, operate and feel, thank you very much.
After the first iteration, when Bill (my programmer) was almost on the right track, it took some explaining. He had to listen. And listen.
I knew what I wanted in my head. I could see the vision of my site as clear as day. Translating that vision into words and directions for a programmer to take and come back with a website that matches what was in my head is a tall order. It takes patience. Most of all, it takes someone who will listen and want to understand me. Bill and I never got off track because of his desire to understand what I wanted.
Even though there were periods where I didn't know if we were on the right track, his willingness to listen, understand and help me understand things was always there. The reason I am so happy with my site is because of the time that Bill and I spent making sure we understood each other. And believe me, Bill had to do a lot of listening, because I'm not shy in explaining what I think is incorrect. I can be a tough customer, so programmers I want to work with are the ones who listen and understand that this website is my baby, and I'm going to be passionate about it.
Speak their language
Well, I'll never be able to completely speak it, but I googled 'website section names' and then used those guides to learn what I needed to know. Basically, I didn't want to be calling a 'menu' a 'header' or anything else that made him think I wanted something that I didn't. I used google to make sure I was referring to the proper sections. They will basically ask you what you want to have in each section, so becoming familiar with the basic layout will help.
Email task lists
Don't write paragraphs that go on forever.
Get the point of what you want (not why you want it) and tell them in a clear, concise list. They should know or should be instructed to reply with what they did for each item on the list.
Keep real contact
Where my programmer and I hit rough patches was when we only communicated by email. The emails are essential to lay out in black and white what we want, and to have a trail to follow when looking back, but they need interpretation, and only phone calls, video chats or face to face meetings can do that. Don't eliminate close contact. It is almost always better than email or text.
Learn more about Townsquare Interactive Here.