Thinking about outsourcing your iPhone app design project to a freelancer? Before you try working with a freelancer for the first time, there are numerous considerations to take into account, yes including the cost of it all. To be sure, there are reasons you should be wary of hiring a freelancer.
Outsourcing a project overseas can have sometimes disastrous consequences: delays, excessive spending, or a poor final product, to name a few. However, these problems are caused by hiring bad freelancers, not by hiring freelancers themselves.
The freelance market is growing, and it’s growing quickly. Did you know that in the past year 34% of the US workforce did some freelance work? Or that Dell plans to make half of its workforce go remote by 2020? There’s a reason that the freelance market is expanding, and that’s because the freelance model works.
Freelancers are happier than office employers for numerous reasons: they don’t have to commute, they set their own hours, and they can work where they want to. In essence, freelancing creates freedom for the employee, and ultimately that makes them more productive.
So if freelancing has so many benefits, why aren’t more companies doing it already? That’s because it takes some extra lifting up front in order to hire a talented freelancer. If you’re looking into working with a freelance app designer yourself, here are 5 do’s and 5 don’ts that will improve the quality of your experience working with a freelancer.
1. Hire Talent
This goes without saying in any hiring process, but for freelancers, it’s critical to identify a candidate’s skills and legitimacy before hiring them. Because they’ll be working remotely, it can be harder to tell if they are unqualified for the position than if you were in an office together.
Plus, remote work requires time management skills and a proactive drive to succeed. In order to hire the right app designer, be sure to ask for work samples and screen candidates for technical ability before hiring them. If you lack the time or ability to do that yourself, then be sure to use a platform like Toptal that vets freelance iOS designers for you, or ux designers and ui designers handpicked by crew.
2. Communicate Regularly
Since your freelancer won’t be in the office, you have to make the extra effort to be in contact with him or her. You should always be aware of your freelancer’s projects and work pipeline: what they’ve recently finished, what tasks are ongoing, and what’s next on their plate.
Establish deadlines with your freelancer, so you both know what the expectations are. Give helpful feedback that is both specific and constructive to help you both get on the same page. The only way to achieve the results you want is to communicate frequently with your freelancer to convey exactly what you’re looking for.
3. Be Open to Diversity
If you’re hiring a freelancer, be aware that this hire may make your team a multinational one (if it wasn’t already). To that end, be open to cultural differences, and take measures to ensure that everyone on your team is comfortable.
Be aware that these differences may cause someone offense, and find ways to mitigate that tension. Increasing team diversity will increase the chance of success for your iOS project.
Team diversity promotes thought diversity, and you’ll avoid group think better with a varied team. People from different backgrounds and cultures approach problems differently, so you will find innovation that you wouldn’t otherwise.
4. Use Collaborative Tools
As your designer isn’t in the office, you lose the easy collaboration of sitting at a table together. Instead, you have to use tools that can replace that experience and provide easy methods of sharing information and progress.
Use Skype or Google Hangouts to have conference calls and a live chat with your remote designer. In order to share information, tools like Google Drive or Dropbox are great cloud storage options that foster collaboration, and Asana is useful for tracking progress on projects.
Using tools that make information sharing easier reduces complications in your project and saves time in the long run.
5. Trust Your Designer
At the end of the day, you hired an app designer to do a job, so let them do that job. Don’t proactively help them find ways to do their job or ask for unnecessary updates.
Trust them to get the job done and see solutions to problems that you didn’t anticipate. Not only will giving a designer more freedom make them happier, but they’ll be more invested in the project’s success and work harder because they feel like they are an equal contributor to it.
1. Don’t Micromanage
Nobody likes a micromanager, and micromanagement is an issue that can become exacerbated in remote work environments. This problem applies to giving a designer a specific way of approaching a problem, but it also applies to overall structural expectations.
Don’t focus on short-term goals or logged hours and ask for constant updates from your app designer. Instead, focus on mid-range and long-term goals and the completion of project milestones.
2. Don’t Expect Perfection the First Time Around
More than many professions, design revolves around creating successive iterations of a product. Gut instincts don’t equate to success in this field, so don’t anticipate a short project completion time and a great design on the first try.
Creating the best design is a process of optimization. Build a design, test it and collect data, and then redesign it. Understand that designing a product is a process, and help your freelance app designer complete it in as simple and streamlined a process as possible.
3. Don’t Focus on Aesthetics
A common mistake among clients is that they want a design to look a certain way, but that’s not what design is really about. Instead, the best designs focus on usability and how easily users can achieve their goals.
Rather than specifying what you want your design to look like, instead tell the designer what you want the product to do and what features it needs to have. Let the designer handle the execution of your vision and deliver a product that is best for your users.
4. Don’t Ignore Training
Giving partial training is fine when you can monitor your designer and provide feedback as they go, but for a freelancer, it’s important to train them well right at the start.
Since a freelance app designer may not be in the office, they won’t have as much exposure to your project and its core values. During training, make sure that you tell them about those values and where you want the project to go. Also be sure to cover communication, team management, and expectations.
In order to successfully integrate a freelance app designer with your team, you have to take extra steps to ensure that they can do the job properly from the beginning to avoid hiccups later.
5. Don’t Be Afraid of Working in Different Time Zones
Working with a freelance app designer in a different time zone can seem like a bad idea. You have different work hours, so communication will be more limited. In practice, time zone differences are not that bad, and even have some advantages.
The scenario of a last minute request can be difficult to work around, but even if they’re across the ocean, odds are that every day there will be several hours in which your work days overlap, so the delays wouldn’t be that long.
Plus, working in different time zones allows your project to have round the clock efficiency. You can prepare materials or review work for your designer while they’re sleeping, and in turn, your app designer can be working on the project while you’re off for the day as well.
Working with a freelancer is feasible and can be a great way to augment your team. Keep in mind that working with a remote worker is different than an employee in the office. Use these tips in order to effectively work with a freelance iPhone app designer, and create the best design for your project!
This blog was written by James Richman. Much of what James writes about is based on his own personal experiences being a CEO and Co-Founder of technology an design resource 1stWebDesigner.