The email might as well have been written in Chinese.
I mean, for all intents and purposes (mine) it was. "Bounce rate," "cascading style sheets," "embedded link," "Extensible Markup Language" -- it all looked and felt like "木須肉" to me.
Launching an online business is a huge undertaking and it's an even bigger undertaking when you're not particularly tech savvy. Prior to launching my site, I'd never tweeted, I didn't know how to embed links, and I only used Facebook to stalk friends from high school. Launching a site was exciting!
It was also very stressful and surprisingly emotionally charged.
Because you know what makes you feel ridiculous in two minutes flat?
Having to google every second word in an email.
Not even knowing the type of questions you should be asking potential developers.
Being reduced to tears by someone's About Me page because you're pretty sure you should be impressed by their qualifications but you don't even know what 'information architecture' is.
If you're in the same boat, welcome.
I, too, am a well-educated, intelligent, generally capable human who struggled to translate technology and was overwhelmed by the process of hiring and designing an online business.
But I've come out the other side alive, intact, with a beautiful site and I'd love to help you do the same.
* need to hire tech or design people
* don't speak the language of tech or design and need to create meaningful and productive relationships with professionals who do
* think positive relationships are important and do best in relationships with collaboration and support
... read on.
Here are four tips that will make your search process easier + less stressful
1. Do at least three interviews and get at least three proposals
Push yourself to interview at least three people, even if you think you've found the right person. I interviewed six designers/developers for my project and each interview taught me something new about the project and what I needed from a designer/developer.
Getting multiple proposals will show you how these candidates present their work. If a person sends you a sloppy proposal, do you really want them designing your website? Having multiple proposals also gives you an idea about cost discrepancies and how each team would work with your project.
Obviously, only interview people you would consider hiring for your project; never lead people on or waste their time.
2. Hire a tech "translator"
I have zero tech skills so I hired an experienced designer/developer (who didn't have time for the project herself) to review the proposals and walk me through the pros and cons of each proposal. She was my tech translator and because of her, I knew what I was buying and what was missing from each proposal.
3. Prepare your priority list
Before you interview candidates, get clear on your three non-tech must-haves.
I wanted three things in my tech relationships:
a. Consistent communication
I don't want to chase down my vendors with phone calls, emails, facebook chats, tweets, etc. I want to know that we have a weekly meeting to go over everything.
b. Organized workflow:
Ideally, I wanted the designer/developer to use a project management system to keep the process smooth for both of us.
I wanted a team that would give me feedback. I wanted them to "think with me" rather than just execute for me.
4. Ask hard questions
Before you hire someone, prepare a few hard questions so you can discern how they deal with direct questions and how they think.
These are my three, go-to tough questions:
a. What is one aspect of this project that I'm not looking at?
This shows you if they're thinking critically about your project and (just as importantly) how they'll express their views to you.
b. What happens when we do not agree?
This shows you how they'll deal with conflict.
c. How does your favorite client behave?
This question shows you the behaviors and attitudes they prefer to have in place to do their best work.
Hiring a team to execute your passion project is never easy, and it's less easy when you're not fluent in tech. But with a bit of help and research you'll find the people who can make your online dreams come true.