As a web design professional, you know how important the quality of a remote coding agency’s work is for the ultimate success of your project.
Design and development teams can and should collaborate to eliminate the hiccups, misunderstandings, and delays. Effectively sharing ideas should be an intrinsic part of the overall process.
Fortunately, there are highly professional coding agencies like this one, whose mission is to ensure you that you are in the loop every step of the way, as your designs are being transformed into reality.
4 Golden Rules for Working with Remote Developers
The benefits you will realize by choosing a remote development agency can be significant.
Remote teams often have more experience and greater talent than local coding enterprises. They service the global marketplace, and have a solid understanding of recent trends and technologies.
Good remote coders have learned and practiced ways to become highly productive. And they constantly strive to improve their skills.
This is how coders relax.
Being remote not only requires better communication, it forces it to happen. How does this happen? Weekly meetings, chat sessions, and the exceptional clarity in briefs, specifications, and feedback. These are all part of the overall scheme.
Some remote development agencies are structured with excellence in teamwork and collaboration in mind. There may be multiple, widely-dispersed physical offices, and talented freelancers often play important roles. This kind of structure is tailored and optimized to deliver the best results.
The golden rules below come from the experience of such an agency.
With 10 years of experience behind it, Xfive has put in place a highly efficient workflow and project management formula. As an Xfive client, you will have your own personal project manager to oversee all stages and facets of development. Your Xfive PM will work closely with you, briefing you on all project stages and taking care that your deadlines and specifications are met.
Keep these four golden rules in mind when working with a remote agency:
- A clear brief helps to get a project off to a solid start. Collaboration can get underway even before your brief is finalized when you have a good agency working with you. Be willing to listen to any guidance the project manager may offer. It can help to get everyone on the same page as the project gets underway.
- Practicality is important. Your coding agency should advise you on the coding best practices and the technologies that they plan to put into play. The final decision is yours, but it should be a knowledge-based decision.
Technologies may vary, but the maker’s touch is essential.
- Communicate efficiently and effectively. Understand your responsibilities toward making collaboration work by preparing yourself for periodic briefings. Avoid making changes once the project is in development. If you must do so, be prepared to negotiate new deadlines. Work with the agency to determine which means of communications will work best.
- Listen to the specialists. Professional developers always have the user in mind. Criticism is intended to be constructive, and it is given with the best of intentions. The feedback you may receive is based on solid, variate coding experience.
Preparing .psd Files for Handoff to a Developer
As a web designer, you already know how important it is to provide your developer with well prepared layouts. It’s not only about efficient design, but those details that can really guide the developer. Here are seven steps that will benefit the entire workflow process progress:
1. Prepping the File
It’s best if you can create a separate PSD file for each page template layout. It is much easier for coders to work with multiple small files, each containing a single template. Once you have approved a Photoshop design, make another version of it for the developer. In the developer’s version, layers that are not required for coding can be deleted, while keeping the final design intact.
2. Layout and Color Palette Information
Color may be a good way to start a beautiful friendship with your developer.
Keep guides to a minimum by removing any unnecessary guidelines. Outline page content blocks such as headers, footers, and sidebars. Create a layer group within your Photoshop file or a Word document that lists the colors and styles. Include hover states for text links and other elements not in the PSD files. This color palette listing can also define common page components. These common page components may be font characteristics, page headers, sub headers and the like.
3. Navigation and Button States
Don’t neglect navigation elements, or make the developer guess at what they might consist of. Group all of the navigation elements in their own folder. The coder will need to define two or three user interaction states in the stylesheet. Each state needs to be placed on its own layer name that corresponds to its function. Do this for any button appearing in the design.
4. Flattening and Merging
Flattening layers may at times be necessary. Combine multiple layered elements into a single layer. This way, you will eliminate guesswork on the part of the developer as to which layer goes with another. Give the developer a clear road map and merge layers that do not require his editing. Avoid the possibility of design elements being altered during slicing.
This is how book printing fonts look like. This is not how to do it on the Internet.
Leave web fonts as editable text, use pixel sizing instead of font sizes. Do not use kerning in editable text, and avoid kerning for individual letters. Working with fonts for web design is not the same as working with them when creating a Word document.
It will help the developer if you optimize your images to reduce their file sizes. It is usually possible to significantly, even drastically, reduce image file sizes. The end result – faster page load times and the best possible UI.
Make an extra effort to organize layers by naming them, as well as the layer groups. It makes it easier for everyone if you stick to a standard naming convention, or one commonly used in your work environment. Create a Photoshop file folder structure or establish a project template.
Why Mockups Will Make Your Life Easier & Help the Coder
Once the design files are ready to be submitted together with your requirements, you can give yourself a reality check. Submit a mockup that you have created with the developer’s work in mind. You will do the developer a huge favor by doing so.
Mockups are like love letters to your developer.
Those who work for remote coding agencies are typically extremely talented coders. It can however be a mistake to assume that if you can think of a design, it can be easily transferrable to code. Even when that code represents the latest version of HTML5 and CSS3. Keep that in mind as you create your wireframe/prototype.
- Inner page graphics should be sized in the mockup exactly as you want them to appear in the deliverable. When a set of icons you choose is unique to a given inner page, create a separate mockup for that page. This will avoid any confusion on the part of the developer.
- Another useful tactic is to export icons, favicons, animated headers, etc., as separate files. This enables the developer to access the icon images and page designs as if they were reference material.
- Testing the interactions before coding takes place will save everyone concerned time and trouble.
In this stage, all interactions should be smooth and natural.
Giving yourself a reality check by means of prototyping includes testing the interactions. This approach is much better than testing during coding. High-fidelity prototypes are best of course, but even low-fidelity versions can be used to show how the project should work. These will give developers something to base their feedback on.
Responsiveness Requires Giving Extra Attention to the Designs
Mockups help the connection between the creativity of the designer and the developer’s logic. This connection can be a complex one, and particularly difficult to make when responsiveness is an issue. Start with mobile displays first, by creating mockups for each of the screen sizes.
Consider all screen sizes, and not just Apple devices.
Since not all design elements change the same way on different landscapes, you need to ask yourself the following questions:
- Are logos, icons, or graphics apt to change in size or location?
- What about font size and line height?
- Will the navigation system that functions properly on a larger screen? Will itfunction the same, or adequately, on a smaller display?
- Will sidebars and footer content remain visible? Will they be only partially visible? Or be completely absent on smaller screens?
Start with the smallest screens and scale up to the largest. Incorporate the basic elements first, and add other elements as you progress.
How to Make Certain You Find the Best Coders to Work With
You have seen the benefits of working with a remote coding agency. You have also be shown the steps you need to take to ensure that you and the coders are on the same page throughout the duration of the project. How then, do you decide which agency would best fulfill your needs? Here is some advice:
- Look into the history of the company. How long it has been in business? What is the number of clients it has served? If possible, check out its largest or well known clients.
Xfive has 10 years of experience on the international market.
- Testimonials. Look for testimonials that have some substance to them, and particularly for those that reflect well on the quality of the agency’s work.
- Some agencies advertise flat rates, but there are often extras. Provide an outline of your project and ask for an estimation of a quote. Make comparisons with offers from 2 or 3 agencies.
- Chemistry counts. You can often tell from the response to your initial query if you and the agency representative are on the same page. Don’t be hesitant to ask detailed questions. The answers you get can say a lot about how an agency works.
Your mindset should be that of expecting to work with a partner, and not merely a service provider. Xfive, with its 10 years of experience in the global marketplace, has what it takes to become not only your partner, but a brilliant partner. Xfive’s clients includes corporate giants like Fox, eBay, Twitter, and Microsoft.
To find out more about how this agency will treat you and your project, post them an overview or a few details about your project.