When you get the idea to start an online store, especially if you do not have the technical knowledge for the actual development, the best thing to do is to hire a professional e-Commerce developer who will do just that for you. But these days, with the number of ‘professionals’ abroad, it can be difficult finding the right person for the job.
But, have no fear, that’s why we are here!
We’ve put together a list of some of the most important questions you can ask your e-Commerce developer that not only clarifies if they are legit but also determines if they are the most suitable for the job. These questions will also help you iron out future contractual wrinkles and specify what your exact needs are before you spend any money.
How much experience does this developer have?
Just as it is with hiring staff for any other job, you need to determine that the developer has the expertise to handle this particular project, and what surer way than to go through their portfolio and examine examples of sites they have created. Find out if the developer has designed a site similar to that which you are looking for, or if it would be possible them to reproduce something you might have seen elsewhere and are interested in.
Markers: Ensure the developer gives you confirmed examples of their sites that are currently up and running, and not try to confuse you with ‘Javanese’ and techie jargon. Ask for clear language each time.
What software does the developer use?
Before you ask this question, you should have conducted a personal research into the types of software and shopping carts currently in use, including WooCommerce, Magento, Drupal, Joomla, Shopify and Volusion, to determine which would be the most powerful, flexible, and easy to manage. Also ensure that the developer uses software which is not only intuitive but easy to use by you is definitely a plus.
Markers: some software can be very expensive, which may not necessarily translate to effectiveness, you should be careful in your selection to ensure you do not get bogged down by payments as soon as you begin trade.
What web standards and practices do they follow?
You don’t want to run afoul of the international World Wide Web Consortium, and so you have to determine that your developer adheres to the rules and standards set by the body in coding your e-Commerce store.
Markers: it sounds like a lot of jargon, but you will need to ensure the HTML or CSS standards the developer follows would allow for your site to run on all kinds of browsers and operating systems so as not to constrain your reach.
How will the developer create a mobile site for your store?
These days, everybody has a mobile and of all online shopping transactions, over 40% are done using mobile Tablets in the US, and about 68% using smart-phones in China. So your online store has to have a mobile site. Ensure the developer creates a smart, responsive mobile-friendly site for your store.
Markers: You need to go over the mobile site created by the developer, it should be simplified, optimized for touch-screen usage and have a reduced number of checkout steps.
What SEO capabilities are going to be integrated into the online store?
It would be foolish if after you spend a lot of money developing your site no one can find it online. Ensure you ask your developer what SEO fundamentals (including static URLs, table-less layouts, custom Meta and title tags etc.) they intend to introduce. If they don’t know how to go about this, then you might consider crossing that developer off your list.
Markers: whatever SEO capabilities are integrated into the site, the developer should use SEO best practices that would allow for plug-in and add-on updates as you proceed, so as not to leave your site obsolete at any time.
What special features are going to be added?
Internet marketing is not a new discovery with new sites springing up daily like mom-and-pop stores, so you need to find ways to set your own store apart and drive customers to it. Obviously you have an idea of how you want to do that, so you need to ask your developer what provisions they have for custom services (such as multi-language options, custom themes, smart product searches, currency converters, etc.).
Markers: whatever custom features to be added, you should ensure the developer is very clear on them. Find out if the customization is a normal feature on the webhost or if the developer is building from scratch as this would help you during future maintenance which may be done by another company or professional.
How user-friendly will the site be?
After the site has been built and the developer is gone, how well would you be able to navigate your site – to edit, manage and update content? There will be periods when you may want to update or change certain features in your site. If you are not aware of what the developer has been doing, this may pose a problem for you.
Markers: Ensure you are kept abreast of administrative control of the site as the developer builds it. Keep all passwords, accounts, files, login codes and maintain knowledge of all the site backups kept by the developer.
How will tests be run?
Even after the site is up, it may not be running properly. The developer should have a laid down set of procedures to test the site to confirm that it is working properly.
Markers: the developer should be able to document the bugs and fixes made as the site is tested on all the different operating systems and browsers.
Most online retailers forget to ask this particular question, but it is good to determine from the very beginning how communication is going to go for the duration of the project. Will the meetings be face-to-face, online via Skype, Google Hangouts, emails or a project management tool such as Basecamp or Asana? It is crucial that all communication is logged and kept organized, with documented resolutions.
Markers: the developer should also be able to keep the meetings regular so you are constantly updated on the progress of your site buildup.
As with hiring any other professional, there are a great number of factors to be considered, but a developer who answers any of the above favorably, is a sure bet for excellent online store development.