A perennial topic, we look at the top 10 requirements to look out for when hiring a Magento agency. Although factors like cost and experience are important, and in fact listed here, there are many other requirements you might not have thought of. We hope to cover them all here.
1. Set Clear Aims
As important as it is for your developer to be clear and straightforward with you, so it is important for you to have a rough idea of the kind of site you would like. Your team will be much better able to create a fully functioning online store the more you have a picture of what features you would like. In this initial stage, you should have a number of websites you like, so your designer has a rough template to work from. After you have worked out what your site will look like, what features it will have, you should also run through some test case scenarios – these will be made up of ‘user stories’ where you can test a core site function, e.g. your shopping cart or ticket selection.
2. Set a Rough Budget
Not only the cost of Magento itself, you will also have the factor in the cost of hosting, adding extensions to your site (ask beforehand which functions in Magento come as standard) and also of course the money you will pay to your developer – though even when all these items things have been factored into your overall budget, you might also want to take into account long term development: this includes all the costs that are usually associated with ongoing site changes and maintenance. Important to overlook, but essential to the smooth running of your site, this is one part of your site design you need to keep closely in mind.
3.Does the Team have Magento Certified Developers?
Another point to keep in mind when choosing a developer is their qualifications. Are they certified? If so, by who? Thankfully, in this respect, Magento makes it relatively easy for you to sort out the pros from the amateurs. Awarding their own certifications based on a tightly-controlled practical examination, Magento allows you to choose a developer based, not just on reputation, but on real measurable expertise. You can find a list of certified Magento developers here. Just key in the name of developer you want to verify in the search field.
4. Are They are a Magento Partner?
Similar to certification, the Magento Solution Partner network shows you which developers are considered reputable. On their website, Magento says: “Magento solution partners are trained, certified trusted companies that are on the development journey with you every step of the way.” In total, there are 350+ Solution Partners worldwide. This means that, in a healthy and competitive marketplace, you should always be able to find a developer who is partner accredited.
5. Is the Developer Trustworthy? (proof of experience)
When setting out with any project, it is essential to establish that your developer is trustworthy. One of the best ways to ascertain the trustworthiness of your developer is by asking to see their portfolio: the range and calibre of their clients should give you a fair idea of the capabilities of the people at the agency. How quickly your agency agrees to work with you is also a strong indicator of ability. If they claim they are able to work straight away, without the need for a long consultation, this almost certainly means that they are not a professional outfit.
6. How Long has the Agency been Trading?
In any business, longevity says a lot. It tells you how successful a company has been in selling their products or services over a period of time. As a general rule then, the longer a development team has been in business, the more likely they are to provide a streamlined, quality service. As in the previous section, a quick and easy way of finding out how many years a company has been trading is by looking at their portfolio, particularly their case studies. These should not only give you an indication of how long they have been running, but – perhaps more importantly – how many successful projects they have completed.
7. Find out Who the Magento Project Team Will be
Although it is important to finalise the details of how your project will be managed, who will manage your project, and how you will contact them, is perhaps even more important. This is essential because you will need to know who your first point of contact will be in designing your site, and who will handle the aftercare part of the process, or any problems which might crop up. Ask before you start who will be managing your project, and who will be available in case of the project manager is not on hand to take your call.
8. Development Time
Another thing to keep in mind is how long the project will last. To come to a reasonable estimate of how long it is likely to take, you should consider this a two-part process. In the first place, you should try to get an idea when the development team, once taking existing projects into account, can realistically expect to complete the work. Secondly, you should try to foresee how likely it is you will have all the require information (e.g. SKUs) from day one. In reality, as your site develops, so will your needs. You need to factor in the growth of your business alongside the timescale of your site – this too will have an effect on how long your site takes to build.
9. Testing and Quality Assurance of the Project
Any professional developer will have rigorous QA and testing protocols in place. As a rule, the best Magento development agencies will use Agile or Scrum project management tools. These are highly collaborative and cross-functional interfaces which allow for segmentation of tasks and assigning of jobs. They ensure you will all be on the same page, and everyone will be able to see what project tasks have been completed, which have yet to be done. Complete transparency for client and developer alike.
10. Ongoing Magento Support and Maintenance
With any complex site it’s essential to have access to ongoing support and maintenance. No matter how well-built your Magento based store, you will also need help with things like security patches, cleaning up your inventory as your product range expands, as well as integrating new platforms (e.g. third-party vendors, CRMs) into the core. For this reason, it’s essential to find a Magento developer who can support you, not just while the site is being design, but when it’s been finished.
Want to learn more about Magento? Take a look at our Complete Magento Ecommerce Guide.