When a company sets out to take up new premises, all sorts of people are involved – lawyers, site surveyors, estate agents, and so on. Likewise, in setting up a Magento ecommerce store, many different people are required in distinct but closely interrelated areas.
In this article, we’ll look at how to informatively select your Magento developer, and how best to prepare.
First Things First: What does a Magento developer do?
A Magento developer builds, supports and upgrades and improves a Magento ecommerce site. From building a site from scratch, to integrating an existing inventory from an old site, a Magento developer will be involved in tasks such as:
- Installing Magento releases and patches
- Building and installing Magento themes
- Optimising loading times
- Installing and configuring payment options
- Integrating Magento with CRMs and PIMs
- Performing onsite SEO to improve search rankings
As far as working with a developer goes, even if you are not directly involved in the build yourself, it is still worth understanding the different functions a developer performs. This will help you to effectively communicate with the project lead when discussing your Magento platform.
Magento developers can be split into three basic categories:
- Frontend Magento developers spend most of their time working in the app/design folder of Magento. They ensure the customer-facing (hence, frontend) aspect of Magento looks good and provides a seamless customer journey. This extends to making sure the website is responsive and cross-platform compatible so that it works on smartphone as well as tablet devices.
- Backend Magento developers focus their energies on coding; making new modules and making sure all the components of the platform are compatible and function to spec. You can think about a backend designer as an engineer who spends the majority of their time in application/code envelope. At a minimum a backend developer will be a proficient in Magento PHP and XML architecture.
- Full Stack developers perform both front-end and back-end development. A popular shorthand for this kind of site-building is ‘both-end development’. Though full stack or ‘both-end’ developers can be helpful, for large projects, it is essential to have separate back & front developers. Someone who is able to do both is more likely to be proficient than skilled.
Getting Prepared: Questions to Ask
Before sorting out what questions to ask your development team, you should spend just as much time considering what questions your developer is likely to ask you. If you do your research, initial calls should go much more smoothly, and your key client is much more likely to take you seriously. To that end, you should have at least a general idea of your priorities, timetable, and of course your budget.
Finding your new Developer
Even in the days of social networking, the best way to source information is often word of mouth. By seeking recommendations internally, from your colleagues or board members, you can often find the perfect hire far more quickly. If you don’t have anyone close to hand to ask, try asking third party service providers. These might be your web designer, accountant, or even your outsourced HR. Failing that, you can always try Linkedin. Assuming you have a reasonably large contact list, it is likely that at least one of your contacts will be able to give you a lead on a reputable Magento expert to use.
Networking via Industry (Magento) Events
Another networking strategy worth utilising is attending Magento Events. Serious, experienced Magento developers are very likely to attend these. Aside from meeting potential new clients, they will want to learn about all the latest news of the platform, and what recent updates mean for their business. In turn, as a relative novice, you might in the process learn something about the platform yourself. As we said earlier, the more you know about Magento, the more you will be able to specify your needs.
The Qualification Test: is your Developer Magento Certified?
Having narrowed down to a short-list, one of the most important things to check is whether or not your developer is Magento certified. There are three different levels of Magento certifications, but all of them guarantee the same thing: that the developer has performed rigorous examinations to determine they are proficient in the platform. To find out if your developer is certified, either ask or look on their website – web developers who have been awarded certification almost always have a badge (like the ones below) on their homepage or landing pages.
Agency vs. Freelance Developer
By now, you should have a fair idea of whether it is an agency (i.e. development team) or a freelancer you need. For the most part, the decision will rest on the scale of the project: you won’t want to hire a single developer for a large project. Only an agency can provide the sort of resources required for a complex project, especially if it involves integrations with existing CRMs or shipping rules.
But there is another thing to consider: even for small projects, such as installing Magento extensions, an agency is still a much safer bet. Though it is likely you will only need one person working on the project, in practice, the developer will have a whole team’s knowledge to draw on, making sure all the steps he has executed are correct, and that he has done everything to the highest standard. For the sake of consistency of quality, it is almost always better to go with an agency.
Finding a Magento developer can be a struggle even at the least of times, so we hope we’ve made it easier for you. Try to remember though: as smoothly as your site may run after its completion, the likelihood is you will need help again in the future – whether with upgrades, patches, or a complete overhaul of the system. In looking for a Magento developer, taking a long-term view, building long-lasting relationships, will always pay off.
Want to find out more about Magento? Please see our Complete Magento Ecommerce Guide for more details.