If you want your business to succeed online, it’s crucial you hire a professional web designer regardless of what type of business you run. But, eCommerce developers may be even more essential due to the complexity of eCommerce websites. Whether you are building a new site or refreshing your current one, a good designer can create the right image for your online store.
eCommerce developers help their clients choose the right look for their business. Just as you would put a great deal of thought into the storefront of your brick-and-mortar, your website should reflect your business in an effective and professional way. Your web designer will guide you to the right site layout, color scheme, and customer experience to enhance your online business. Let’s take a closer look at the elements of eCommerce development and the best way to hire a professional eCommerce developer for your online business.
What Goes into eCommerce Design?
Just like fashion, web design follows trends that are always changing. That’s why it’s important to hire an eCommerce designer who is up-to-date on the latest trends in the market. There are so many elements that go into your design. Layout, colors, imagery, user interface, and user experience name a few. The overall goal of your eCommerce development should be to deliver an attractive online store that is easy-to-navigate, organized, and effective.
eCommerce design is the first step in the creation of your online store. Your designer will meet with the important players in your business. They’ll have a conversation with you so they can find answers to the following questions:
- What type of business are you? What is your business industry?
- Who is your target audience? What are the common characteristics of your customers?
- What type of products and services do you need to promote? What are you selling?
- What sets you apart from the competition? Why are your products or services better?
- Do you have an idea of what you want your store to look like? Can you provide examples of other sites that are similar to your vision?
- What are your business goals? How do you need your website to support those goals?
- How will you market your website? Does anything need to be included outside the normal scope of eCommerce development?
Once your eCommerce design team has a good idea of your vision, they will get to work on some mockups that show you an example of what your website will look like. They’ll be able to determine whether the scope of your project can fit within a traditional theme or website layout or if you need more customized development services. Your eCommerce web design team will work with account managers, programmers, and copywriters to create the most effective online store for your business. Once you’ve successfully created a design, your eCommerce developer can begin.
Tips to Hire a Good eCommerce Developer
With thousands of eCommerce developers in the industry, it can be overwhelming to choose one that will make a good fit for your eCommerce project. When you choose the right eCommerce developer, you can be sure your site functions the way it needs to and gives you the best ROI for your business. Here are some tips to help you choose the right eCommerce development team.
1. Discuss Their Experience.
Before you hire an eCommerce development company, you should ask them for references and check them. If you were opening a brick-and-mortar store, you wouldn’t just hire the first contractor who told you they could do the job. Just as you would perform a check on any other professional, you should do so for your development team. Ask for at least three references of eCommerce websites they have developed. Check out the websites on your own. Contact the businesses to see if they would recommend working with the company. Ask about the work they did, see if they stuck to timelines, ask about how easy they were to work with, and gage the overall satisfaction with the business.
2. Do Your Research.
Before you hire an eCommerce development team, you should do your research on the functionality of the most important elements of your store. For example, the shopping cart is the backbone of any online retail business. Research what options are available for your online store. Once you choose the best option for your business, be sure you’ve found an eCommerce company that specializes in what you want. The better your development team, the better you can deliver to your customers.
3. Bring Questions.
Even if you don’t have a lot of questions you need to be answered, try to come up with some challenges for your development company. Your eCommerce development team should be an expert on turning your goals or vision into a functional, feature-rich, engaging online shopping experience. If your potential developer has no input or does not ask you questions about your business and the scope of your project, they probably aren’t the right company for you. You want your development company to be interested in your business and have a great deal of information about their own industry. You want their opinion to add value to your business.
4. Get a Statement of Work.
Since many eCommerce developers don’t work with contracts anymore, be sure you get some sort of statement in writing about the scope of your project. The statement of work should detail the scope of your project, the estimated timeline for project completion, the exact services that will be performed, and the price estimate. Once the work is completed, be sure the end project meets your expectations and is in line with the statement of work.
5.Experience Trumps Certifications.
Although it’s great to have an eCommerce developer that is certified in multiple areas of development, many developers are self-taught. Just because a development team doesn’t have a degree in IT, doesn’t mean they aren’t the most knowledgeable in their field. Some of the best developers don’t have a formal education but have spent years doing the work and learning through direct experience. Never judge a potential development team on their credentials alone. You may miss out on a professional talent who delivers much more than any certified developer can.
Creating a Solid Working Relationship with Your Developer
The best way to create a positive experience for your users is to hire an eCommerce developer who understands your vision and puts it to work. Your eCommerce platform needs to work like a well-oiled machine. You deserve the peace of mind that your online store functions the way you need it to constantly, without interruption. The best way to work with your eCommerce development team is to create a partnership that is mutually beneficial. When you have solid, positive working relationships with your developer, your business reaps the benefits.
How Do I Develop a Better Team?
If you have never worked with a development team, you may wonder what it’s like. When you look at it as a partnership, you get better results.
- If possible, meet your team. If you choose an eCommerce development team that isn’t local, a video or phone conference would be fine. Dig deeper than just your account manager or salesperson. When you talk directly to your designers or developers, you can get a feel for their competency and honesty yourself. Don’t hesitate to ask questions. Before your meeting, create a list of detailed, specific questions. Talk about the developer’s approach, how they will accomplish the work, and what process they will implement to get it done.
- Be prepared. Before you go on a call, do your research. The ball is in your court and you are entitled to do as much investigating as you choose. Find a list of their current clients. Get in contact with those clients and talk about their personal experience with the company. Ask your potential developer for a list of references. If they have an issue providing a list, it should be a major red flag for you.
- Talk to other service providers who have worked with the company. See what it’s like to work with them on an ongoing basis.
During the process, you should ask basic questions in three fundamental areas. These include:
- Promises vs. delivery: Does the company stand by the promises they made during your initial meeting? Talk to their client references to determine:
- If they meet their expectations
- Do they deliver on what they promised?
- Did they stay within the budget and meet the promised project timelines?
- How they handled problems that inevitably come up during the process.
- Are they consistent and reliable? Would you work with them again?
- The level of trust: Will they be a trusted partner to fit within your team? When you meet with your potential development company, feel them out for the following:
- Do they portray themselves in a professional manner? Would they be a good extension of your team?
- Do they work as a good team within their company? Is there good energy?
- Do they employ competent and qualified players to their team?
- Do they provide you with measurable results?
- The level of communication and results: Are they proactive in a way that will add value to your team and business? Evaluate them for the following:
- Do they ask questions to clarify your needs? Do they truly understand your business goals?
- Do they bring new ideas and innovative strategies to the table?
- Do they clearly communicate how things will get done? Are they transparent about the costs involved?
You should also try to evaluate the professionalism and expertise of your potential development company. An experienced developer will have a strong working knowledge of the best practices in the industry. They should be able to create a unique strategy to meet your business needs. When you find a confident development team, they can lead you to the most effective eCommerce solution to fast track your business on the road to success.
One important thing to note is that nobody has all the answers. You should strive to find the most comprehensive company to meet your needs, but keep in mind that experimentation is an integral part of any eCommerce strategy. A company with a strategic mindset will implement a plan that uses analytics to measure results. Real-time results can uncover gaps in your approach and allow you to integrate better marketing tactics to enhance your online business.
Structured Partner Analysis
Once you have collected all the pertinent information about your potential eCommerce development company, you should put all the information together in a way that helps you make a final decision.
Measuring the Information You Gathered
There are many factors to consider when quantifying your information. They are as follows:
- The Price Factor- Be sure you compare apples to apples. Of course, you should look at the cost, but don’t just jump on the cheapest quote. You need to take the quality of work and experience into consideration as well. If you don’t understand part of the proposal you’ve received, ask for clarification. Since this will be a long-term relationship, you want to also understand additional services that might come into play. Create a written agreement on the following services that will be implemented after your website is launched:
- Create a comprehensive service level agreement with predetermined costs for future services you expect to need. You should also have an estimate of additional plans and services in case you choose to upgrade or downgrade your services at some time.
- Determine whether future rates for relevant services are fixed or hourly.
- If possible, cap any future increase in annual costs.
- The Quality Factor- Create a summary of each potential partner’s qualities. Then analyze the differences. Your ideal long-term partner should exhibit the following qualities:
- Proven expertise
- Knowledge and experience within your business industry
- A clear understanding of your business
- Working knowledge of your objectives and goals
- Solution-driven mindset
- A clear vision of how to meet your goals
- Client testimonials and case studies that show real results
- A fit that complements your team and enhances your business
- The Balance- You should really weigh price vs. quality when evaluating which company is right for you. A weighted analysis can help you make the best choice. The best approach to weigh price vs. quality is to weight it this way:
- Price Factor: Approximately 70-80%
- Quality Factor: Approximately 20-30%
If your project is particularly complex, you may want to weigh your factors differently. Ultimately, you should use your best judgment to pick an option that works for your business.
How Much Does It Cost to Hire an eCommerce Development Team?
The cost of eCommerce development depends greatly on the scope of your project. Out-of-the-box development projects are much more affordable than customized projects. Additionally, other factors that should be considered when understanding the cost of development include:
- The number of pages involved.
- The number of products you will have listed.
- The additional functions you need.
- The type of plugins you will use.
- The platform you want your website designed on.
- Any customizations used in design or development.
When you break it down, eCommerce development can range anywhere from $80-$400 an hour. And, depending on the scope of your project, the number of development hours involved can lead to a serious expense. The great news is that there are some eCommerce development companies who offer fixed-price development options. This is a great way to get quality development in the most cost-effective way.
Making the Choice
Now that you have a clear understanding of what goes into eCommerce development, the cost involved, and how to create a lasting partnership, you are ready to make your decision. You should have a lot to go off of to make the decision. Outline the pros and cons of each potential company and determine how easy it will be for you to work with them.
Whether you are looking to revamp your current online store or are just starting out with a new build, your goal should be to build a strong eCommerce business. You should search for a company that is dependable and trusted-one with which you can create a long-term relationship. Remember, you might not find the perfect partner, but you should find the partner that fits perfectly with your company.
When you find an eCommerce development team that is affordable, knowledgeable, and trustworthy, it is beneficial to your business in many ways. You won’t only be able to deliver the best user experience to your customers; you’ll get a better return on your investment. And, you will have someone on hand that can provide ongoing support, effectively perform future changes, and be on hand to help if your website experiences an issue in the future.