Join Lauren Bacon for an in-depth discussion in this video Must have templates, part of Web Career Clinic Weekly.
- [Lauren] Hi, I'm Lauren Bacon, and welcome to this week's edition of the Web Career Clinic, where I explore how to build a career you love making good stuff on the web. Today I want to share three ways that you can use templates to make your work more efficient, consistent, and hopefully more fun, too. Now when you're managing a variety of web projects, it's inevitable that you'll end up repeating the same kinds of tasks over and over again, and many of us have templates that we use to save time and money.
I imagine you probably have an intake form that you use with new clients and a proposal template. You likely also use templates for things like contracts, changes of scope, and sign-offs. But today I want to share three other kinds of templates that I built up over the years that saved me a lot of headaches, time, and therefore money, and had the added benefit of ensuring that my work was of the highest possible quality and consistency. You can save yourself a lot of repetition by creating informational templates for your clients to accompany your deliverables, and I don't mean a brochure, but rather something you can share in context.
For instance, when I was the lead designer for our studio, I had a template that I used for sharing design comps with clients which I created specifically for clients who might be sharing the comps with other people who weren't at the face-to-face meeting. It included a bit of background on how we'd arrived at the design decisions we'd made, a list of key questions to reflect on, and the deadline for providing feedback. It also linked back to the previous iterations so everyone could see how the designs were evolving.
Now there are some fantastic tools out there that you can use to share your design ideas for feedback, but templating the text that you include with your concepts can save you a lot of time. There are lots of different tools you can use for sharing the design ideas and gathering feedback, including InVision and Red Pen. You can do a web search for design collaboration tools if you want to find more. Now the templates I've probably used most in my career are checklists, especially for doing things like code testing and quality assurance at every stage of a project.
I've used checklists for things like tracking all the stuff that new clients need, like proposals, contracts, intake forms and so on, reviewing design concepts before they go to the client, like did we consider retina displays, landscape view on mobile devices, stuff like that, validating and testing code for things like optimization, accessibility, and standards compliance, and all the business stuff involved in every project, like remembering to invoice clients at certain stages, adding projects to your portfolio and so on.
All of these repeating tasks can take up a lot of space in your head, so get them into a checklist you can use over and over again and you'll thank yourself. If you've been in business a while, you probably hear the same questions from clients over and over, and you can save yourself a ton of time by answering them once and saving your answer in a format that you can share again later, be it an email response, a video walkthrough, or a blog post. Maybe you could even package your ideas up into a web course and make a little extra money from them.
There aren't many people who enjoy asking a question and getting an answer that simply links off to a manual, but if you're friendly in your reply and include an invitation to come back with more questions if they have them, you can at least save yourself reinventing the wheel every time the same question comes your way. Those are the three kinds of templates I use most often. How 'about you? If you have ideas to share about using templates to streamline your web business, tweet them at me. I'm @laurenbacon on Twitter, and you can use the hashtag #ProWebClinic to make sure I see your tweet right away.
Thanks for watching. Tune in next time as I explore another topic for web professionals. Bye for now.
Tune in every Wednesday for a weekly "small dose" of advice, an explanation, or an interview with a web veteran. Lauren Bacon has mentored and coached many web professionals as they were starting out and loves sharing all that she's learned from her 15-year career as a designer, front-end developer, and agency principal.