Efficient Communication in a Freelance Design Team

By / Apr 27, 2012 / Tips
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Working as a digital professional in any field is tough. You have to constantly push towards gratifying clients and rushing through deadlines. Managing tasks in a team allows you to divide up the work much more evenly. However this also means it can be difficult getting everybody on the same page.

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Communication is the key to building a powerhouse freelance team. In this guide I’ll share some tips for keeping an open communication with your partners. Freelance designers and web developers especially need to express their ideas clearly. Keep everybody talking amongst each-other and make it a point to stay on task!

Schedule a Meeting Space

Working together is such a different environment compared to working alone by yourself. You can’t magically read everybody else’s thoughts, and they can’t read yours. The best course of action here is to schedule specific meeting times to congregate ideas.

It’s good to plan anywhere from 30-60 minutes, or even longer if needed. Make sure that everyone’s ideas have been expressed and all pertinent issues are discussed. It also helps if the meetings are held in the same area each time. It offers a more familiar space where everybody can feel comfortable joining into the conversation.

Common meeting space startup loft room

In regards to frequency, this will differ greatly depending on the project at hand. If your team can get together once or twice per week then this is perfect! You’ll have more time individually focusing on tasks at hand. However I should point out that a quick 20 minute meeting each day can do a lot for productivity. Try out different schedules and see what feels best for everyone.

Segregate Roles

If you have a small team of 2 or 3 members this idea may not be as important. But understand that each person in your team is specialized in working one area or another. It can be great to have one person helping with design and HTML and backend coding. But truthfully this would be way too much, and your team will burn out sooner than later.

When initially accepting any freelance project make sure you contact everybody on the team in advance. Have a sit-down discussion where everybody can look at the project details and assign themselves with roles. This is the most straightforward approach since you can have everything organized well before even starting the design process.

Keep Everybody Updated

Even if your team is working remotely in different areas of the world, your communication should not pay the price. There are plenty of free instant messaging services including Skype or Google Chat. These also let you send files or other important project data between computers with relative ease.

Skype chat logo on company building

When focusing on your specific area of the project it’s all too easy forgetting to keep everyone else on the same page. This can lead to problems where one team mate was waiting on your work before proceeding, and now the project is behind deadline. Or even if this isn’t the case it can’t hurt having everybody on the same page.

If you’re building projects for the web consider setting up an online workspace to host your website. This can be hosted on your company server, or even somewhere that the client may setup. Your team can use this as a “live demo” to model the finished project. Plus once you have finished small changes these can be easily updated and appended onto the finished piece.

Use Common Workflow Practices

On the topic of web design there are many common practices we see among professionals in the community. Graphics designers and illustrators understand organizing their .psd and .ai files into separate groups and layers. Naming conventions are also important so that you can easily identify which layers contain which details.

Aside from the graphics you also have to consider working on the frontend code. Most freelance projects contain both a design and coding aspect. Be pertinent and document block areas of the layout which may be confusing to others. This is crucial in a team setting where you may be handing over HTML pages to many different people.

Apple MacBook silver and black iPhone 4S model

Inline JavaScript and CSS blocks are way too confusing and take up much more space than needed. Always move your custom stylesheets into separate files and organize them accordingly. Inline comments are perfect for delineating areas in your code which style targeted elements such as the body, inner wrapper, or content page text.

Creativity Abroad

The best project works will always be inspired by creative endeavors. Never limit the aspects of creativity until you have tried and exhausted all other ideas. I find that teams with more than enough expendable energy can build some fantastic ideas without even touching a computer.

sunset highway over Los Angeles, California

The best tips for this method of productivity include a healthy lifestyle and mentality towards your work. Be sure that you are eating healthy and getting plenty of sleep at night. Focusing on each project is important in its own time. But you must also be vicarious with your leisure space and inner creativity.

Conclusion

I hope some of these ideas can give your team a leg up in the competition. Freelancing is a tough game and requires a very tough set of members. You need everybody focused and working on the same end result to produce something outstanding. If you have similar ideas for basic team communication skills please do share with us in the post discussion area.

About the Author

Jake Rocheleau is a creative writer and UI designer. You can follow him on twitter @jakerocheleau or visit his personal website at JakeRocheleau.com.

4 Comments

  1. Joe
    April 27, 2012

    Well written and throughout. Often freelance shops forget professionalism goes a long way

    Reply
  2. Shawn
    April 29, 2012

    Great article, Jake! Keep up the great work. The only thing I don’t like is all the Apple product placement *sigh*. Not all of us fall into the trap of being a Mactard.

    Reply
  3. Brushstroke Media
    April 30, 2012

    Jake, great post, when starting out, there was only two of us in a little office space and we weren’t lucky enough at the time to have this sort of advice, we had to learn the hard way, patience is a virtue as they so though. Nice work Jake, keep up the advice.

    Reply
  4. Morgan & Me Creative
    May 9, 2012

    Awesome article Jake. We too believe any team, freelance or not, requires constant communication as well as focus & discipline.

    Reply

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