How to Remotely Demo Work for Freelance Clients

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So you have a freelance client and you’re ready to show off your work… But how can you showcase a project when you work remotely? If the entire application is completed you could simply send the client a link to test it out. However it’s been my experience that this approach is not a great idea. As the designer or developer you know the inner workings of the app. The client on the other hand, especially if they’re of the non-technical variety, will stumble through testing the application out.

Even if you did a great job on the project, if the client doesn’t know how to use the software they’re not going to be happy with your work.

Why Proper Demonstrations are Important

Through the years I’ve discovered that well thought out demonstrations are a key to successful projects. There are two main reasons for this:

  1. A proper demo will let you control the flow of the app. You can control the focus of the work and spend time showcasing how the system works. This will essentially function as a tutorial for the client of the app. A well organized demo will educate the client on the application and remove many of the common issues related to user experience confusion.
  2. You will get practical feedback. No matter how well you think you understood the client requirements, there will always been misunderstandings, especially early on in the development process. Thankfully, if you put together a proper demonstration of the software you can get a more clear view of the client’s vision. If you simply sent off a link to the app for the client to test, many of the feedback items they would send back would be related to not understanding how the system functions. However if you can clearly show how the app works it will shortcut this process and let you understand the actual fixes sooner.

Review of Services to Remotely Demo Work

There are a number of ways that you can remotely demo work for clients. I’m going to go through the processes I’ve used throughout the past few years and discuss when each option is ideal.

Screencast

remotely demo work

The first option I’ll review is creating a screencast. This is a great option if there are a number of clients that will need to review the feature. At its core a screencast is you recording yourself walking through the application. If it’s a web based application you can have the video showcase each feature of the application. In the show notes I’ve included a link where you can see an actual screencast that I sent to a client where I give a project update.

If you review that video you’ll see that it walks through each of the new features that I added in the past few weeks. I use tools such as:

  • Zooming in to specific screen zones.
  • And I highlight sections of the screen that I want to focus on.

This process only takes a short period of time. However it is well worth it because it enables clients to have a tangible walk through of the system.

You can use a number of tools for recording screencasts. My personal favorite is Camtasia, however it is a little expensive. So if you are trying to keep a low budget there are countless free options, such as ScreenCast O Matic.

After you finish filming a screencast demo you can upload it to YouTube, Vimeo, or an video hosting site. From there you can have the client view the link at their convenience.

Remote Desktop

remotely demo work

Next on the list of tools to remotely demo work are remote desktop sessions. Every client is slightly different. Many clients are fine with email and video demonstrations. However other clients want more of a personal touch.

If a client likes to have full interaction with you during the demo, a remote desktop tool may be the best choice for showcasing your work. I have also found that this option is ideal when I’m working for other developers. This is mainly because remote desktop demos allow for pair programming.

There are a few different options when it comes to remote desktop tools:

  • GoToMeeting  – If your client wants to have a traditional live demonstration, services such as GoToMeeting or JoinMe work nicely. They will let clients view your screen and they also come with dedicated conference call lines if you’re working with multiple stakeholders.
  • Screen Sharing – There are times when you need the ability for you and a client to simultaneously walk through a demo. This is for the scenario I just mentioned where you’re working for a developer and he wants to be able to go through the app at the same time as you. My favorite service for this type of demo is ScreenHero. It offers an easy way to have multiple users control a screen at the same time and it’s pretty affordable.
  • Free options – If you’re on a budget there are a number of free screen sharing and remote desktop options. Some of the notable ones are Google Hangouts, TeamViewer, and Skype.

PowerPoint

remotely demo work

Last on the list of tools to remotely demo work are PowerPoint type presentations. I say “type” because you don’t have to actually use PowerPoint. I’ve used PowerPoint, Google Slides, and Keynote for product demos. I like using slide based demos early on in the project development process. There are many times where I’ve built back end functionality that I wanted to confirm was configured properly. However I realized that if the client saw an ugly user interface they wouldn’t be able to appreciate the work that was performed.

So I took a play out of the Google Venture’s playbook and I created a Keynote slide deck. I designed the deck to mimic the user interface that I planned on eventually adding. From there I simply loaded the slides with the behavior I had built into the actual application. This approach worked quite well and the client was happy. More importantly this option let the client focus on what I had built as opposed to requirements that were still on the todo list.

This option also works quite well for mobile app demonstrations. Mobile apps are pretty complex for clients to demo on their phones. So a slide based approach makes it possible to show an app’s design and behavior in a more efficient manner.

Summary

I hope that this has been a helpful freelance guide and will help you remotely demo work for clients.

Show Notes

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