My site is broken! How to talk to developers to get help fast.

January 5, 2012
How to talk to developers to get website problems fixed

“My site is broken” is one of the worst phrases in the universe. Horrible for you, Ms. Client, because you’re faced with frazzled technology you’re unable to fix yourself. It stinks for web developers too because it’s normally not enough information to allow them to help you promptly.

You’re frustrated because it’s not already fixed. Developers are frustrated because they want to tackle the issue but don’t have enough details. I’ve been working with developers for years now and they always ask the same questions before they start troubleshooting. If you want your web team to tackle your issue fast, providing answers to the questions below can jump-start the process.

What developers like to know

About the problem:

  1. Did you clear your cache? Some problems resolve themselves after dumping cache
  2. Can you provide a link to the page or pages where the issue occurs?
  3. What action were you taking when you saw the problem? What happened differently than expected or desired?
  4. Can you share a screenshot of the problem or error?
  5. Were you logged in or logged out when the problem occurred? If logged in, with what user account?

About your computer:

  1. What operating system do you use? (Mac or PC)
  2. What browser do you see the problem in? (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome)
  3. What version of that browser are you using? (Internet Explorer 9, Firefox 8, Safari 5)

No one in this equation likes wasting time, wasting money, or having a site that's not working at 100%. If you feel like your web developer speaks a different language, try sharing these details with them and it will help you all get on the same page.

[Image Credit: VistalCo]