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Using Mockup Tools with Virtual Assistants and Clients

It’s always great when we get to learn something new from an inspiring agency owner! Never stop learning, right?

In this episode of “Can We Talk About Your WordPress Projects?” (originally recorded in Nov 2020), I had the privilege of sitting down for a chat with Melanie Adcock, co-founder and owner of Adcock Creative. She, her husband Jay, and their Philippines-based designer Jake create and maintain websites, with a primary focus on serving churches and retirement homes. Melanie credits Adcock Creative’s success in part to her ability to easily communicate changes and updates across time zones, clients, and creators using smart mockups

You’d be doing yourself a disservice if you missed the video of this interview, because Melanie presented so many fine points and details, as well as access to models and visual aids, that could be major game-changers for your agency. While it started out as a conversation about mockup tools, this episode quickly became a plethora of tips on how to work with a VA designer.

And, though we saw through chatting that sometimes our tools and methods differ, what we can both agree on is that maintaining a process and consistent communication with clients are two undeniable factors of a successful agency.

My Take-Aways Regarding Mockups

Here are the big takeaway ideas from my conversation with Melanie:

1. Smart mockups have a head-and-shoulders advantage over the traditional, image-based variety.

Whether you use the WP plugin that goes by this name or a similar program, smart mockups create a level of interaction, mobility and versatility that a fixed image just doesn’t give.

Melanie loves how smart mockups can be used between agency owners and designers to leave notes and feedback, and to make quick adjustments.

She has also, on occasion, allowed her clients into WP Feedback—but only if they are proven to be very savvy with WordPress.

 2. Clear, patient communication with your designer is key.

Melanie gave us several examples where she and her designer, Jake, weren’t exactly on the same page, for whatever reason. Smart mockups allowed them to easily make adjustments at times that were convenient for both of them.

But what Melanie didn’t say, and how she acted, spoke volumes. Together Melanie and Jake create fantastic sites for their clients, communicating in a way that leads to productivity and positive changes, even if it takes multiple attempts. No matter what needs to get done, it’s handled with open communication and patience.

And that, my friends, is how a multi-person agency works effectively.

3. Even if you niche, don’t be afraid to take on referrals—they can come from anywhere!

Melanie had a great example for us of a site referral that, though not within her niche, was a project that she decided to take on. This referral, in fact, came from a friend at church.

Try to keep an open mind and an eye for opportunities, no matter how they come to you!

4. Take lots of notes in the way that’s the most accessible to your team.

Melanie has gone completely paperless in terms of her notes, citing her “horrible handwriting” and the difficulty of locating specific notes as the main reasons. She has a few notes and chat apps that she’s been using with her designer Jake, but more important than what she uses is the fact that she’s doing it.

Melanie understands the importance of taking extensive notes to communicate well with both her designer and her clients, so that everyone goes away happy.

5. Work to each client’s level of comfort and ability with technology.

As we mentioned before with WP Feedback, Melanie has some clients that are more tech-savvy than others. But given her main areas of expertise, this doesn’t relate to all of them. Some of her clients want to be more hands-on, and others want Melanie to completely take the reins—this is reflected in her pricing.

Especially in the case of sites for mom-and-pop business, you can’t expect for everyone to have the same level of knowledge or ability with technology. After all, that’s why they hired you in the first place!

See what works with each client—there’s no “one size fits all” communication—but maintain a consistent process with all of them.

Melanie shared so many tips and tricks on how to use mockups with Virtual Assistants and Clients, I strongly urge you to watch the video so you can see how some of these things might work for your process.

I want to thank Melanie again for her time with us on this edition of Can We Talk and wish her, and all the folks at Adcock Creative, continued success.

NOTE: This video was recorded in November 2020 and since then, WP Feedback has become Atarim and offers a much larger suite of collaboration features addressing many more areas of the design and development process. Their pricing structure has also changed. You can find out more about the current Atarim product at https://atarim.io.

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