Let’s say you discovered that when you wear your bathrobe backwards, it creates a pretty neat blanket.
You decide to develop what you cleverly call “The Snuglet” … or something like that, and after working days and nights, you’re ready to take your product to the first and last frontiers: the Internet.
After the research dust settles, you realize that Magento is the most brilliant, sexy and easy-to-use CMS eCommerce platform. (We will agree with you). And your Snuglet is waiting for the glory of Magento.
But who will develop your Magento website? When you search for “Magento developer” on Google, you get (gasp!) 6 million results! Are you just selecting the first tech company on the list? Do you get offers from everyone and choose the cheapest? Are you calling the one who has the most friends on Facebook? Your dad is good at computers. Maybe he could do it ….
Choosing a Magento developer can be scarier than a Spanish cucumber, so we’ve put together some tips on how to pick a team that will make your eCommerce site truly sing and put your Snuglet – or any other product – on a web map.
1.) Look for a Magento partner
The Magento Commerce website should be a good place to start your search. They have a great database of companies that are Silver and Gold level partners which means they have access to Magento support, services, extensions, forums and other really smart people who can help keep your project running smoothly. Search the Element of Human Profile to see our official status of one of the cool kids.
We also have that cute little logo at the bottom of every page of our site, just screaming at you that we’re more than competent nerds, and we have some pretty sweet connections for nerds. Make sure you see this somewhere on the developer’s site as well.
When choosing a developer, keep in mind the scope of your project. If you are a small business trying to sell Snuglet with the community free version of Magento, you may not need a Gold partner. It is not necessary to kill a rabbit with a bazooka. However, if you have a large catalog, complex business rules, or some integration with backend systems and plan to use Magento Professional or Enterprise, most likely you will need a Magento partner at a silver or gold level with large departments necessary to knock out your project.
What’s the difference between Silver and Gold partners? Generally this is the size of the organization and the services offered. If you’re on a 5K budget, you probably don’t want to call your gold mate. However, some companies will undertake small projects if you want to buy a bucket of hours for development or maintenance.
2.) Check the portfolio of your Magento developer
Once you’ve found a few Magento developers you want to work with, check out their portfolio. Some companies – like us – call it “Work”, others “Featured Sites”, others may call it “Our Customers”. The point is, a great Magento developer will take pride in the things they’ve done and make it easy for you to find.
Browse some of the companies you’ll find on Google and browse their portfolio. Make sure you find examples of work that you would like for your business.
3.) If at all possible, look them in the face
Working online is great because you can get things done without meeting in person. Efficient, yes, but not always the best way to do business. Therefore, try to meet your programmers alone and find out about their origins and what they recommend for your project. You will learn how well they feel with the platform, how long they have been working with it and what they know about the strengths and weaknesses of Magento.
Meeting the developers also gives you a better idea of whether it really is? as Your Development Team – Which Matters More Than You Think. You will spend some time with these people during the development process. If your account manager is a bit dodgy or your designer is neurotic, it can quickly turn this process into a nightmare. But when you work with the good people you like, you will have a much better programming experience and will likely end up with a better product.
4.) Ask for references
So now that you’ve narrowed it down to a few companies, ask for references from the company’s Magento customers. You probably wouldn’t hire an employee solely on the basis of their CV. Even Sarah Palin could apply for a job as a rocket scientist … Or the president, for that matter. That doesn’t mean NASA should hire her to lead the mission.
Companies understand this and should have no problem providing you with references. The last thing you want is to be a test project for a company that has no idea how Magento works or how to deal with the intricacies of the program. We helped a few clients who unfortunately had such experiences with another developer and it can be ugly. You need a company that has extensive experience in building Magento sites, and they are not afraid to share those testimonials with you.
5.) Make sure you explain your product and current business practices
Whether you are a new business or are rebuilding an existing eCommerce site with Magento, make sure your developer knows what you need and more importantly, has confirmed that he can do whatever you want. Do you need integration with an ERP system? Need Search Engine Optimization Services? Do you need custom extensions beyond the scope of regular Magento?
It’s possible that even if you’re only selling a bathrobe that you artfully disguised as a blanket, you likely have some unique features on your website. Custom checkout features, changing product images, fancy color swatches … whatever it is, just make sure your developer knows what you mean and can provide those items you can’t do without. Explaining how your business works on a daily basis will help the developer come up with a plan and give you confidence that you have selected the right technicians.
6.) Rate the developer’s site
You probably don’t want to choose a company whose website looks like it was built in 1997. Even though these were legendary times in the history of eCommerce, you are looking for a company that has a modern look and keeps up with current trends. If the developer’s page hasn’t been updated since Limp Bizkit was cool, you should definitely pay attention to the red flag.
7.) Price and quality
When choosing a Magento developer, remember: You get what you pay for. We know it’s cliche, but we’ve seen it a lot. Human <> Element had a few customers who came to us with unfinished projects from other developers that just got out of hand as their previous developer didn’t understand what he was doing with Magento, he was lowering the price of the project and couldn’t finish it. Remember that the cheapest developer is rarely the best, and sometimes you will have to spend a lot more to fix something than to build it correctly for a little more.
This doesn’t mean you have to go with the most expensive developer to get a working Magento site, but it does mean you should take a close look at what each company proposes in their offering. Make sure all the features you want are included in this proposal and that you have identified the features that are essential for your business.
Whoever you choose, make sure your developer has the skills to meet the needs of your business, or you could end up with an internet clutter bigger than Snooki.