Oh, that moment is so sweet – when you finish your design, save the PSD or Sketch file, and exhale.
You did it.
But then – fear creeps into your heart:
“Who will code this masterpiece? Why is it so hard to find a good developer?”
Our boutique agency faced this problem for years. We tried every service provider and their mother, including freelancers, companies, “PSD to HTML” services, and more.
Every time, when they sent us the files…
Fonts were off. Gradients weren’t right. Elements were placed incorrectly. It crashed in this browser, and had another glitch in that one.
And so on and so forth.
Frankly, it was to create our own “design to code” conversion service, Reliable PSD.
In creating Reliable PSD, we broke down every crappy experience we ever had…
Analyzed what went wrong…
And created systems so that our clients would actually get an awesome experience.
But in doing so, we uncovered a 3-step “test” you can put any developer or team through to make sure they’re the real deal.
Whether you work with us – or someone else – this can really save you a lot of heartache.
Here it is:
Test 1: Put their code through the W3C validator – but don’t flip out if there are errors
Standards are important. But they’re not everything.
In fact, good coders often veer from standards to accomplish the most important task at hand: Deliver a fast site that works in every modern browser and device.
Sometimes standards make that pretty darn tough, or impossible.
(Want proof? Run Facebook through a W3C validator test. The errors go on for days – yet Facebook is arguably the most compatible website in the world.)
Instead of panicking about the errors – ask the developer about them.
If they have good logic and reasoning behind them – then they’re good coders who put the end-result above all else.
If they shrug and give you an “I dunno” – head for the hills. The errors are caused by carelessness.
If you’re like me, you respect a team that puts your main goals above all else. And my main goal when building a site for a client is that anyone, anywhere, can view the website as I intended without glitches or bugs, and that it loads fast.
If someone can do that, then my response is: “Shut up and take my money!”
Test 2: Editing is where real writing happens. Quality assurance is where real coding happens.
So if a W3C test won’t tell you if a coding company is legit or not, what will? Their quality assurance process.
See, from running our own coding company for 3+ years now, we’ve realized something: No developer, no matter their level of awesome sauce (a technical term, by the way), can scratch their own back.
In a world where coders have 20 “backs” — browsers, devices, etc. — that’s never been more true.
Here’s the QA process we came up with just to show you as an example:
- Original coder tests on all browsers and devices
- When he or she is happy, a dedicated tester does the same, with “fresh eyes”
- When he or she is happy, a designer then compares the finished product to the original design to ensure it’s totally accurate
The three steps go in a constant feedback loop until all three members are happy.
Then, and only then, do we send the website to the client.
(Why step three? We added that unique step to our lineup when we finally accepted that developers don’t typically have designers’ eyes. Sure, some do, but they’re a rare breed. We’ve learned that it takes a fellow designer to spot your subtle effects and elements and make sure everything is on point.)
As you can see, that process is pretty extensive.
Not as extensive as a company like Facebook maybe, who’s also optimizing for old Nokia phones that still play Snake, but very extensive for the job at hand.
If a company you’re scoping out doesn’t have a great QA process – run for the hills.
Maybe our process is overkill if you produce super simple sites.
Test 3: The “likability” test
The more complex your sites are, the more back-and-forth you’re bound to have with your coding partner. After all, it’s a partnership; a collaboration.
As such, you want to make sure you actually like who you’re dealing with.
Makes sense, right?
Big projects can last for months. You don’t want to spend months emailing with someone you secretly resent, do you?
So purposefully go back and forth for a few days via email, making up questions to drag out the process.
See how they respond to “weird” questions. Do they make you feel like you’re bothering them with “too many” questions? Do they answer your questions fully and promptly?
This one is super important:
If you ask five questions, do all five get answered?
Or do you have to follow up over and over again to get them all knocked out?
If you get frustrated with their communication over a couple days…imagine how you’ll feel a few weeks down the line.
So finally – make sure you really like the folks you’re partnering up with. That way, when you let out that sigh of relief when you finish your next design…
You’ll breathe another sigh of relief knowing you have a great partner to send it to.
Also – try speaking to them on the phone.
Yes, we’re all creative introverts who fear the phone…but sometimes, the phone really comes in handy.
Try scheduling a call with the companies you’re scoping out. You’ll see what they’re really all about, real fast.
A quick checklist to summarize and wrap it all up for you:
- W3C validator + follow up on errors (also test their sites yourself on multiple browsers and devices)
- “What’s your exact QA process?”
- “Do I like these peeps?”
Your turn: Was this post helpful for you? Do you have any tips of your own? Questions? Stories? Tell me! I’d love to hear and help out in any way I can. Leave me a comment below and let’s chat.
Also – we’d be honored at the chance to get you a quote on a WordPress, HTML, or Email Template Project. And if it works out, we’d even love to offer you 10% off with promo code “Flywheel.”
Like I mentioned, we started Reliable PSD because our “dream” partner simply didn’t exist. So we created the service we’d always longed for.
Now, I’m happy to report that hundreds of agencies and freelancers absolutely love working with us.
And getting their designs coded has become stress free…and even fun!
Interested? Click here to get a fast free quote, or to send us an email saying “hey!”
We’d love to talk with you, and you’re welcome to schedule a phone call with us too.