If this is your first time working with a developer, you may not know how to best provide feedback to them after they show you the development site. (Just in case you don’t know what a development site is — it’s the site that your developer has built with all the content, images and design that you approved earlier in the process. A development site is different from a live site in that it’s not done yet; it’s still in development.)
Here are some steps you can take to review your site thoroughly and provide useful feedback on your development site.
Take some time to look through all of the pages on the site. Every page you can find — click all the buttons, visit all the links, read all the content. Don’t worry about writing anything down — just take it all in.
Once you’ve visited the entire site and had some time to mull it over, start taking notes. It’s most helpful if you organize your notes in some fashion — I ask my clients to gather all of their feedback in one shared doc or sheet organized by page. If there are any global sections of your site (think header and footer), make notes about those separately.
In addition to notes, screenshots can also be valuable to your developer, especially if something looks strange on your end. Loom is another great tool you could try — it allows you to record your voice and screen so you can talk through what you would like to have changed.
Types of Revisions
As you’re going through page by page, what should you look for?
Content and Design
- Content — is all the proper content present? Is anything missing? Do you have any unnecessary content? Does the content make sense?
- Spelling, grammar and punctuation — all correct?
- Images — are the images crisp? Do the images make sense in the areas where they are used? Do any need to be replaced?
- Call to action — does each page end with a call to action? (When you get to the end of each page, ask yourself, “Now what?”)
- Meta — do you have meta descriptions for each page and post?
- Consistency — what makes a site look polished is consistency. Are there any differences from page to page where there shouldn’t be? Font family or size, line or paragraph spacing, colors, buttons, hover states, etc.
Don’t forget to check all of the “hidden” pages, too — any legal pages, any thank you pages, any category or tag pages, the search results page, the 404 page and/or your social profile page.
- Links and buttons — does each link or button go to the correct place? Do they open in new tabs as needed?
- Forms — do the forms collect the appropriate information, submit correctly, redirect as needed and notify the correct people?
- Cross-browser compatibility — does the site look good in all major browsers? Think Chrome, Safari, FireFox and Edge.
- Responsiveness — does the site look good on desktop, laptop, tablet and phone?
- Other functionality — does the search results page work correctly? If there is sorting or filtering, does that work? If there is any other functionality on your site, check it now.
- Social media previews — share links to the development site via iMessage, Slack or run it through the Twitter or Facebook preview tools to see how it will look when shared.
What’s Not Included
Just a note — earlier in your project, you probably already settled on the sitemap, wrote your content, chose your images and reviewed/approved a design for your site. Your rounds of revisions should include small tweaks and updates as mentioned above, but will probably not include:
- Sweeping design changes
- Large-scale changes to the site layout, colors, fonts, etc.
- A lot of extra pages
- Additional functionality beyond what we’ve already discussed
Do you love a good checklist? I do! Use the Google sheet below to organize your feedback.
Thoughtfully preparing feedback for your developer will make the revision process that much smoother and will move you towards a successful site launch!