5 Ways to Become a Self-Taught UI/UX Designer

(Guest writer: Mehul Rajput)

Choosing a promising career in the field of IT can be pretty puzzling. It seems like the future holds plenty of potential in this field. This puts you in a dilemma of evaluating your interests and picking the right path for yourself.

Today, I have chosen to shed some light on UI/UX industries. Organizations are investing millions to come up with stellar UI/UX. cites a report on UK’s technology skills landscape, produced by, which shows a 289% rise in requests for UX interviews.

Fortunately, you don’t need to throw hundreds and thousands of bucks to learn about this domain. In fact, there are many remote learning options you can adapt and turn into a UI/UX maestro without stepping a foot outside!

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Don’t believe this? This post will tell you how to become a self-taught UI/UX designer:

#1: Learn the UI/UX fundamentals

The user experience on a website is one of the most critical parts of a successful web design. According to Amazon Web Services, UX stats reveal that 88% of online shoppers do not return to a website after having a bad user experience. This means that before you leap into the landscape, you should understand the main principles of UI/UX designs.

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It focuses on creating a delightful experience by meeting users’ needs, studying them through user psychology. Understanding why users perform some actions and compelling them to continue navigating the site is key to creating a reliable digital product.

Luckily, there are plenty of affordable UI/UX tutorials and resources within our reach nowadays. Once you have decided to kickstart this journey on your own, look up the education tracks offered at the special degree programs, courses, certifications, and boot camps.

ui ux tutorials

Generally, you can find an overview of topics and course requirements for programs at Georgia Tech, Stanford, and other such names. Type the course name and look at what students will be learning in those courses. Sometimes, the classes are even offered free if you want to follow a structured learning platform.

You can go the extra mile and ask the professionals about their favorite books and resources. Take a look at profiles on LinkedIn that are atop of the charts of UI/UX design, ask them to enlist their favorite titles to help you out.

#2: Seek learning experiences

This is your journey. You have to watch out for everything that helps enhance your learning in this field. A little experience and challenge can make oodles of difference in your overall perspective.

For example, check out the samples on CodePen to create a cool impact of your own.

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At the same time, keep looking for tutorials to improve your learning. Build a portfolio and keep creating designs to add to it. When you have more things to show, your chances of getting better opportunities will also grow.

learning through codepen

Here is a list of recommendations we give to every aspiring UI/UX designer:

  • Subscribe to They send small interface challenges every day that helps build your skills.
  • Keep an eye on NGOs and volunteer organizations looking to showcase their work online and increase their reach.
  • Always ensure you have a project on the side. A side project forces you to think, innovate, and create.
  • Share your projects on Dribbble, and/or Behance. Reddit, too has an active community that is all set to give its feedback when needed.

#3: Invest in the best design tools

It is essential to invest in remarkable tools that bring your designs to life. You can begin by applying your knowledge via those tools to develop an impactful UX for the users.

There are many great tools available in the market. We suggest our readers try out a few industry hotshots, such as Sketch, Adobe XD, and Figma.

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This is a quick rundown of the features each software brings to the table:

  • Sketch – Sketch is the digital design app for macOS. Designers who use Sketch prefer it for its plugin capabilities and intuitive interface.
  • Adobe XD – Adobe XD was designed with users in mind. It is completely free and enables you to develop designs and prototypes.
  • Figma – Figma is a collaborative design tool used for digital projects. It is the latest UI/UX software globally and turned into the top choice for designers.
design tool adobexd

More and more tools in the area of UI/UX sprout every day. Each tool comes with its own pros and cons. It is always good to learn a couple of these tools and collaborate to create flawless designs.

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#4: Start creating a portfolio

Reading books and watching tutorials is good for nothing if you are not practicing. If you want to become proficient in UI/UX, you must design digital products and start collecting a solid work profile.

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You can download free UI kits to help you get started. A UI kit is a set of pre-designed components that contain essential visual elements for any UI design. It provides all details about fonts, icons, menus, buttons, etc.

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Use these kits to design your app or website. You can start by doing redesigns of existing ideas. Pick your favorite websites and delve into the ways to make them more powerful. You can also learn how to create a mockup for your design and post it online to get more exposure.

Make sure that your web design is optimized for mobile phones. Failing to prioritize mobile optimization can lead your designs down the drain. According to Think with Google, 50% fewer users will prefer a website if it isn’t mobile-friendly.

At the same time, it is also essential to keep the price factor in mind. Learn how much it costs to design a mobile app or a website to ensure you can control the budget.

If you need help to manage the projects, Bonsai is the place to be. It helps build a portfolio and explore how you can recreate the current designs with better functionality.

#5: Network with the pros

As you are learning what to do, how do you get the right people around you? It is crucial to know professionals in the same field as this is your gateway to abundant opportunities. You can Google local or virtual events coming up and participate in them.

Aspiring self-learners have made the most out of such activities. They participate in mock interviews and ask for feedback on their portfolio.

It may be awkward in the beginning. But it gets easier with time. You get more confident, and you are grateful for the relationships you build along the way.

networking with other designers

Verdict – Become the complete package

UI/UX designers should always stay in the learning loop. There is a broad range of ways to delight your users. Hence, it would help if you kept learning what could bring users on edge and compel them to convert.

Participate in workshops and study literature. Look at how brilliant minds are creating strides in this field. Having the right gear and knowledge will help you excel in your field and strike the best deals.

I hope this blog has given you the perspective needed to begin the journey of self-learning.

(This guest post is written by Mehul Rajput for Mehul is a CEO of MindInventory (, a software development company that provide web and mobile app solutions from startup to enterprise level company. His role involves heading the operations related to business and delivery with strategic planning and defining the roadmap for the future.)

The post 5 Ways to Become a Self-Taught UI/UX Designer appeared first on Hongkiat.


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How to Detect and Prevent Bot Traffic on Your Ad Exchange

(Guest writer: Roman Vrublivskyi)

According to Cloudflare, more than 40% of Internet traffic is believed to be bot-driven, and malicious bots represent a huge chunk of this share.

In this article, we’ll dive right into the cause of this problem to understand what kinds of bot traffic types there are and which anti-fraud tools one can use to protect one’s advertising platform (and ad exchange, in particular).

What is bot traffic?

Bot is short for “robot” – a program that performs simple and repetitive tasks. And it does so faster than a human (because it’s a robot, right?), so there’s a great deal of good (or bad) that you can achieve using bot automation. A bot, like any technology, is just as helpful or harmful as the intent behind it.

Not all of this bot traffic has ill intent, but how can you tell which ones are good and bad?

Good bots

Good guys are selfless heroes who help someone in distress – no matter what. They’re unbiased, so don’t even think of bribing them. Bot crawlers from search engines like Google, Yandex or Bing, help your website content get noticed by those who’ll likely be interested in it, and that’s how you get your traffic.

There are many other cool things that bots can do, like enforcing your copyrighted content or even talking to your website visitors!

good traffic bot
Bad bots

These impersonate real people for the sake of achieving a particular purpose – e.g., imitating ad views and clicks (often used by unscrupulous publishers to get paid more from every impression and click generated on their inventory).

Bad bots also actively steal information from websites, post spam comments, and drain advertisers’ Pay-Per-Click (PPC) budgets.

Malicious bots are used for various reasons – they can be a part of a complex marketing strategy to get a competitive edge or something as straightforward as obtaining personal banking information.

How do traffic bots work?

A bot is essentially an algorithm designed to handle a specific sequence of actions. It can operate using predefined rules, leveraging Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) or combining all of them. The more sophisticated the bot’s algorithm, the more advanced means of protection are required to counter them.

Research shows that a website can be exposed to bot traffic as much as 120,000 times per hour (which is surprisingly high, depending on the overall number of website visits per month). But that should give you an idea of how much bot traffic you can get during just one month.

bot traffic stats

Knowing that almost half of website visits are bot traffic, think about how much server resources are wasted and how negatively that affects the publisher’s website performance.

Even when a bot traffic attack doesn’t reach its desired objective, it can still exhaust servers to the extent where the website becomes unavailable to actual visitors.

So, it’s really about maintaining an online presence, which is a crucial element of keeping a publisher’s side of the bargain.

How to identify bot traffic

Some bot traffic can be relatively harmless (i.e., messing with your website stats), while others do the actual damage to your business. Ideally, you want to be able to deal with all of the issues mentioned earlier.

Publishers can use the following to recognize bot traffic on their websites:

  • Abnormally low page speed load. This is an indication that a server is busy fulfilling HTTPS requests generated by bot traffic, which affects website performance. A website should typically be able to withstand sudden spikes (given that a hosting provider is reliable enough), so a small amount of bot traffic won’t make a big difference. However, a large number of Layer 7 DDoS attacks can take the entire website down.
  • High bounce rates and pages per session. Some bots can be programmed to hit a page and leave it instantly, while others can crawl across the entire website. The first one would produce an abnormally high bounce rate, while the latter would result in increased pages per session.
  • Website traffic comes from unexpected locations. There is no way to control where the website visitors come from unless some location restrictions are applied. However, a sudden influx of visitors from surprising locations can be a clear indication that a website is under a bot traffic attack.
  • The website content is plagiarized. Duplicated content that appears on strange websites without permission can be the result of scraping bot traffic activity.

Challenges to fight bot traffic in programmatic advertising

Malicious bots are getting really good at what they do. However, the primary reason why ad fraud exists in programmatic is gaining financial benefits by disrupting the media-trading process.

This can be done in a number of ways:

Impression fraud

Impressions are the key metric when it comes to media buying on a Cost-Per-Thousand Impressions (CPM) basis. However, it can be hard to say whether or not valid impressions took place.

Sometimes, publishers can intentionally make their ads appear on low-traffic websites to generate excessive impressions to get an extra charge. The main problem with impression fraud is that it can be hard to detect.

Click fraud

This is arguably one of the most common threats that most advertisers have encountered at least once. According to Pixalate, click fraud topped the list of advertising frauds in 2017.

A couple of years after, the ad tech ecosystem learned how to deal with this type of fraud (thanks to the sellers and authorization standards developed by IAB and new click fraud scanning technologies).

Conversion fraud

Conversions are what the majority of advertisers want when it comes to online advertising. The Cost-Per-Action (CPA) model allows media trading based on users’ valuable actions on a website.

The CPA model tends to cost slightly more than CPM and CPC, making junk conversions more damaging. Dishonest publishers can utilize bot traffic for that purpose since it’s relatively simple to train bots to take specific actions on a website.

How to combat bot traffic?

It’s important to distinguish between simple and advanced bot traffic since dealing with them might require different strategies.

Fighting simple bot traffic is pretty straightforward, so every publisher should be aware of these basic rules to protect their inventory. These sellers and inventory authorization standards were established by Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB). These days, they belong to the most viable mechanisms you can implement in your advertising platform.

Here’s a look at the names and descriptions of IAB standards that every digital publisher should know about:


This standard is a common yet efficient way of fighting against inventory arbitrage and domain spoofing. This file includes a list of approved resellers, making it somewhat difficult for fraudsters to manipulate ad impressions and website URLs for unauthorized limited inventory reselling using bot traffic.


This standard is similar to ads.txt – the only difference is that this one protects the mobile ecosystem from bot traffic.


As far as ads.txt and app-ads.txt are tasked with protecting publishers, seller.json is targeted to secure suppliers from bot traffic. Seller.json contains a list of authorized publishers, eliminating the necessity of directly contacting every single publisher.

IAB standards

All in all, using these three IAB standards is a sure way to bring transparency to the supply chain ecosystem. Ad exchange owners should integrate them into their ad exchanges, as it will provide an additional security level for every party involved in media trading.

If traffic is the foundation of your business, and the participants in your ad exchange rely on paid traffic, it is important to protect your ecosystem additionally so that it stays healthy and profitable.

What scanners can protect your ad exchange?

The ad tech industry deals with very specific kinds of fraud: click bots, domain spoofing and installs hijacking (to name just a few). Ad fraud is constantly evolving, and the businesses whose primary specialization is not cybersecurity can’t keep pace with fraudsters.

For this reason, it became a common practice for ad tech platforms to collaborate with traffic security providers, as their tools and anti-fraud mechanisms are the most agile and updated.

Many of these security providers offer specialized scanners that can be integrated into ad exchanges and any other kind of advertising platform. When activated, such scanners will automatically prevent fraudulent traffic before the impression takes place or bidding occurs. The other scanners that work post-bid are focused on discovering where the source of fraud originated.

Let’s review a shortlist of the most popular scanners for ad exchange, taking SmartHub (white-label ad exchange) as an example. With SmartHub’s prebuilt platform, you can create your own self-branded ad exchange and integrate the most advantageous anti-fraud scanners, like the ones featured below:

The Media Trust (TMT)

This tool can be used primarily to verify ad creatives. TMT has a database with a list of ads approved for an ad exchange, so it forbids potentially malicious banners and native creatives from showing up.

TMT is an additional option on SmartHub, the integration of which can be negotiated at the stage of ad exchange deployment. Once it becomes accessible on your dashboard, you can configure API and daily scan limits at your convenience.

Forensiq Scanner

This tool allows ad impressions to take place as long as they meet quality traffic requirements. Specifically, the Forensiq scanner checks the fraud score scale to check whether an ad is eligible for showing or whether it’s another manifestation of a bot traffic attack.

You can access Forensiq in the scanner section of SmartHub’s dashboard. Setting it up is pretty straightforward – just make sure to define a number of scans per day and the Forensiq scanning system will do the rest.

Protected Media

Protect Media is a renowned supply scanning tool (available at SmartHub by default) with AI and ML at its core. It provides Real-time Buying (RTB) capabilities to detect bot traffic before and after the ad auction.

You are also provided with detailed stats about all ads that made it to the auction, so you can check their credibility by viewing traffic origin. This tool is great at detecting video, image and CTV bot traffic fraud.


Pixalate is another advanced scanner that you can find in ad exchanges like SmartHub. It looks a lot like Protected Media, but it also allows detecting OTT and in-app bot traffic fraud. When setting up Pixalate, you can choose whether or not to apply macroses or IMG pixel as your monitoring method.

Like we previously mentioned, the main issue with detecting bot traffic by observing sure signs of bot activity on your website is that it happens too late. Pixalate automates fraud detection by detecting any possible threats at the earliest stages.


GeoEdge helps to fight against ads that contain redirect links. When SSP in your ad exchange gets a response, the GeoEdge automatically wraps those in <header> and <footer> tags.

Once you configure GedEdge, you will begin to receive alert notifications about redirect ads, and bot traffic will be blocked instantly – there’s no need to do any coding. This scanner will be automatically working with your ad exchange, which is very convenient.


A good thing about Botman is that it can identify and block General Invalid Traffic (GIVT) and Sophisticated Invalid Traffic (SIVT) bot traffic. GIVT consists of web crawlers that – while generally harmless – can pose a danger to your stats. SIVT is fraudulent bot traffic as is.

Luckily, Botman handles that, as well. In the SmartHub dashboard, it is easy to set up a Botman pre-bid integration, as all scanners are easily configured in the scanners section.


The scanning capabilities of this tool are designed to detect and block bot traffic, including both individual bots and entire botnets. And it does so before any of these bad actors can engage in RTB auction. The environments that HumanSecurity supports include desktop, mobile, and CTV.

To wrap it up

Some bots are relatively easy to detect and block. At the same time, advanced bots are good at mimicking quality traffic and require more superior strategies and antic-fraud technologies, such as professional scanners.

If you plan to create an advertising marketplace that is secure by design, SmartHub can be the right option. White-label ad exchanges, like SmartHub, are very configurable, so you can integrate the scanners and implement IAB authorization standards to always keep inventory and sellers in your ecosystem verified.

(This guest post is written by Roman Vrublivskyi for Roman is a Chief Commercial Officer for SmartHub ( He has worked on business development in Informational Technologies and SaaS industries and has recently shifted his focus to enterprise-driven advertising technologies within SmartHub.)

The post How to Detect and Prevent Bot Traffic on Your Ad Exchange appeared first on Hongkiat.


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I’m Daria Kozlenko, a project manager at NIX United. My team is working on an IT product with over 150 people involved. Numerous teams work on this product, including a team of 30 IT experts from NIX United. Other teams hail from India, Japan, and China.

We all share the same release date and task backlog. Therefore, it’s critical to work closely with all the client’s distributed teams to avoid making mistakes.

I want to share my experience and describe the challenges we had moving an old legacy system to a new platform, and how we carefully honed the tools and mechanisms of dealing with customer expectations in unpredictable situations.

This article will be helpful to project managers, business analysts, technical analysts, and other professionals taking a PM role.

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Why did we work in the face of uncertainty

At the start of the project, we had a partially constructed team of Front, Back, and Client-developers, business analysts, and QAs, and an approximate estimate of how many more professionals could be required.

However, there was no planned scope of work, accurate estimation, or release strategy in place. Furthermore, the project’s key people (Product Owner, technical project manager, and supervisor) were promoted and transferred to other projects inside the company. Making matters worse, the customer set an unrealistic timeline without consulting us.

You should have stopped the project!” – people will say. But for us, the glass is always half full. We have been working with this client for a long time and have established trustworthy and respectful relationships.

Therefore, we considered it unreasonable to create a damaging precedent, followed by the end of cooperation. Moreover, we believed that in the short term, we would resolve the situation.

We began by refusing to stick to the client’s deadline. Instead, we focused on the tasks’ t-shirt sizing and received a revised deadline that differed by only five months from the client’s initial deadline expectations.

We also actively coordinated the design, investigating the requirements to detect any bottlenecks and other teams’ dependencies. We tried to minimize all the risks in the early stages.

All of this was done in collaboration with the development team to engage in substantial dialogue with the client.

How we acted towards a solution

First and foremost, we informed the customer of the risk of missing his deadline as well as the possibility of unexpected dependencies on other client’s teams that we were unaware of at the time.

Thus, we started preparing the client for possible changes right away. Then we engaged a new Product Owner for constant structuring and recordkeeping of requirements. Our main goal was to shape and evaluate the scope as quickly as possible.

Our actions made sense to the new PO, and he became a part of the process. We were still capturing our results in artifacts on an internal system for working with a shared knowledge base. We also engaged other teams with whom we have dependencies to talk about it.

We highlighted occasions that stopped us and kept us from moving forward faster during meetings with the client without losing focus on day-to-day progress. For instance, the client’s design. After all, without design, we can’t fully construct the frontend.

project manager

After we finished grooming, we created a new timeline that included all the mentioned risks. The client was not disappointed when he received the new timeline as he was aware of every move. In fact, he had been anticipating it!

The client was a participant in the process, and at that point, the only thing on his mind was coordinating the new adjustments with top management. Together with the client, we concluded that our team needed to consider other possibilities for the stakeholders.

It was vital to step back from the project’s constraints and investigate ways to reduce the scope, expand the crew and predicting the client’s potential losses. We came up with three options, each with its own cost and impact. The client used our presentation as a starting point and had top management approve the revisions.

However, the planning stage of data migration was a different challenge for us. It was insufficient to finish creating all of the old system’s features on the new one.

So instead, we needed to determine which organizations would migrate to the new system and when they would do so. And so that no one is left out, the essential metrics are identified, and modifications may be reversed if something goes wrong.

Due to the upcoming winter vacations and plans for Christmas, we had to restructure our data migration strategy and postpone the release, and as it was important to conform to the client’s capabilities and schedule.

Conclusions that we derived from this case?

After dealing with the client in the aforementioned scenario, there are some things that I would like to put forward as conclusions derived from this case.

Always tell the truth, and nothing but the truth

Perform an audit of the issues as soon as possible as it is the only way you’ll be able to come up with a new solution that works. You will accomplish this as one team with your client, both interested in a successful outcome.

It would have been a failure in our situation if we had opted to remain silent. Don’t expect to earn credibility with the client by agreeing to unreasonable or dangerous terms.

Client-side stakeholders should be in sync

Renegotiate agreements. When many key people are making decisions, they may not communicate with one another. It’s your responsibility to bring everyone up to speed.

You are greatly mistaken if you believe that everyone in the client-side team is a bold person who bickers with each other every day. Everyone lives in their own world and does not have time for “additional” tasks.

teams in sync
Immerse yourself in the project

You won’t get much done unless you immerse yourself in the project. Unfortunately, neither plan the load by development direction, appropriately calculate timeframes, display the crucial path, or collect the correct statistics and plan subsequent activities.

As much as possible, immerse yourself. Don’t dismiss yourself because you don’t have anything to offer the development community. On the other hand, don’t be scared to ask questions in the fear of making a fool of yourself.

The project manager may occasionally bring out nuances that no one else on the team has considered. And it’s all because your view of the problem differs from that of the development team.

Consider your schedule’s reliance on other teams

It’s crucial to reconcile all teams’ releases and align your activities with their own rules and practices. No matter how uncomfortable it may appear, don’t be hesitant to address the issue head-on.

For example, during one of our general meetings with a team on whom we had dependencies, we learned that they did not intend to include the functionality we sought in their release.

We learned that the 100% scope we were expecting was far from the case when we explicitly asked what they would be able to cover. This team also informed us that they would not deliver the development build we had hoped to receive by a specific deadline.

tproject schedule
Assess the risks

It is hard to reach full potential at work. Therefore, both the estimate and the duration are set with a certain risk proportion. This creates a buffer that gives us room for maneuver.

However, keep an eye on the percentage of scope creep in this scenario. It’s a bad reception if it starts to expand quickly. It means you haven’t considered all of the risks and have generated an incorrect estimate.

As a result, you may need to create a new scenario, increasing the number of players, postponing the deadline, or cutting the scope.

Dashboards can be pretty helpful

Do nothing by hand, be lazy. Atlassian has already considered everything for you. The most important thing is to know what you want to track and which metrics can provide you with answers.

In my opinion, more dashboards are preferable to fewer ones. You’ll discover which dashboards you don’t require as you use them.

project management
Introduce grooming meetings

It’s not enough to groom tasks for the next sprint. Finish the entire release scope. And the sooner you get started, the better. By procrastinating and postponing backlog tasks, you’ll not discover all the hidden surprises sooner.

Plan for the release, not the nearest sprint

This is a natural consequence of the preceding advice. You should view the entire picture, not just a part of it. It won’t be easy to objectively assess how much your team can cover the client’s expectations.

If you don’t have a clear view of what’s going on, it is hard to indicate the deadlines. Version Report with Release Date is a helpful tool in Jira, and you should give it a shot. I’m sure you’ll be surprised to see release dates in a more pessimistic overview of the situation.

Don’t put everything on your own team

Sharing some functionality with other distributed teams may be more reasonable. If they have done the activity before, they may have more expertise.

As a result, they may be able to complete these tasks faster than your team, which will have to spend more time delving into a new area of the code. Consider overall profit rather than discrete gap fixing.

working with other teams
Take opinion from other teams as well

Other teams’ experts can point out what your team is missing, giving you a fresh perspective and saving much time for the entire project.

Keep track of the project’s metrics

You must be aware of the performance of your team. Keep track of definite departures from the plan with each sprint. If you find yourself behind schedule, you’ll need to figure out how much work you’ll have to do, how quickly you’ll have to make it up, and who will pay for it.

Sprint Reports in Jira provide tracking-velocity at the end of each sprint. I also recommend using the Sprint Health gadget and the Rich Filter by Status.

Any agreements should be documented in writing

The client may understand numbers better than any other language. And every conversation should end with a call summary— a brief note outlining what you talked about, what you learned, what you came up with, and who is in charge of carrying out the next steps.

If this isn’t done, everyone will only hear what they want, and they will remember more negligibly. As a project manager, your job is to reduce the likelihood of such losses. So don’t be a slacker; take notes on everything that was said.

Even better, record the calls with the consent of all conversation participants. That way, if you miss or forget something, you’ll always be able to listen to the tape again.

I practice recording call summaries, but it’s not always straightforward, so it is better not to multitask in complex sessions that require intense concentration.

record-voice calls
Keep track of the scope’s modifications

Of course, it’s always better if it’s automated. Make use of Jira notifications and dashboards. If you cannot set up the procedure on your own, you can enlist the help of the client or more experienced coworkers.

Be open and honest in whatever you do – everywhere and at all times.

Keep the client updated on your progress frequently. With words spoken aloud and text sent via email/messaging.

Also, keep in mind that any information, even the most basic, might be misunderstood. So make sure to explain even the most basic details as the catch could be hiding in plain sight.

I’m looking forward to seeing how our journey concludes in the current version, but that’ll be another story.

(This guest post is written by Daria Kozlenko for

The post How to Manage Clients? Tips From An Experienced Project Manager appeared first on Hongkiat.

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