How can hiring a web design and development agency be beneficial?
There are many ways hiring a web design and development agency is beneficial for online store owners.
One of the biggest benefits of hiring web design and development experts is that they can help accurately communicate your brand through custom design and user experiences. A strong brand builds trust with customers.
Design and development experts can also ensure that your storefront meets accessibility standards. They can ensure your store is simple to use so that shoppers can find what they're looking for quickly and easily.
Developers can also make sure your website is secure, loads quickly, is findable in search, and is responsive.
Finally, they can provide ongoing support and maintenance for your online store. Keeping software up-to-date and working well helps avoid security issues or loss of revenue after launch.
What is needed to develop an ecommerce website?
Assuming you have a domain name, the first thing you’ll need to choose is the software you’ll use to sell products online.
The software you choose depends on whether or not you’ll develop the site yourself, or hire someone to do it for you. It also depends on whether you prefer to use an off-the-shelf system, like Shopify, or prefer to do a custom build.
At a minimum your ecommerce site will need a way for shoppers to find and buy products securely. Things like SSL certificates, encryption, and secure payment processing security features are important so customers can trust your website and feel safe using it.
Most merchants need additional functionality, however, including a shopping cart, promotionals, shipping rules, payment options, tax calculations, inventory management, back-office order fulfillment workflows and more.
While there are many off-the-shelf software solutions available, their functionality may still need to be extended, and require custom development.
For example, custom development or third-party integrations might be required for things your business needs that your chosen platform does not provide, like the ability to have a multi-lingual site or to have unique shipping rules.
Also, if you intend to do any content marketing, you'll want to have a content management system (CMS) along with your store, not just a commerce engine.
Finally, you’ll need design and messaging for your website that accurately communicates your brand to shoppers.
Once you make a list of all the functionality and features needed for your ecommerce website, you’ll likely discover that you'll require developers to build at least some, if not all, parts of your store.
Should you hire a developer or build your store yourself?
While for one merchant hiring a developer to build a custom website might be ideal, it may not be for another. That's because each store has a different business logic, and each owner has different priorities and needs.
Here are some of the top benefits of hiring an ecommerce website development team:
A professional, tailored website. You can get a website design and custom developed to “fit” your business, according to your specific needs.
Experience and expertise. Developers develop websites day in and day out for a living. Website development experts know how to build a website that is user-friendly, accessible, and has all the features you need.
Saves time and effort. Developers can allow you to focus on other aspects of your business while they handle the tech.
Ongoing support and maintenance. Developers can provide assurance that your website stays up-to-date and functions properly over time. Many developers and agencies offer affordable maintenance plans.
Modern tech and development. The right tech stack plus the right team using a modern approach to development goes a long way. Modern websites are typically more flexible and extensible. This reduces the risk of you outgrowing your site and incurring sunk costs.
Things to consider when hiring developers include:
The expense. If you're on a tight budget hiring a developer may not be feasible.
Availability of ongoing services. Be sure that the developer you hire provides ongoing support, maintenance, and site hosting. This will ensure you have the ability to improve or sustain the site over time.
Technology, development, and ease of use. Interview developers to learn what tech stack they use. Ask about their development techniques and if they provide you and your team with any training to use you new site.
Alternatively, there can be positives to building your own ecommerce website using an off-the-shelf system. Benefits include things like:
Affordability. Many software options are free to get started.
New knowledge. Building an ecommerce store can be a great learning experience. Developing your site can familiarize you or your team with the nuts and bolts of the technology side of your business.
Taking your time. You can work at your own pace when you build your own site. If your website is a side project, taking your time could be ideal.
If you’re considering using an off-the-shelf system and developing parts of your ecommerce store yourself, it can be helpful to consider things like:
Time and resource constraints. Even if you think you or your team have enough time and resources, this can change and become a problem.
Limits on coding knowledge. You might discover that you’re not able to create a website that has all the features you need.
Unprofessional appearance. Your website might not appear as professional as it would if you had hired professional designers and developers. A lack of a coherent design could hurt your brand and customer experience.
Cost. Even if you use an off-the-shelf system that requires minimal custom coding, recurring monthly costs can be significant. In some cases, costs may increase beyond your budget, even surpassing what a developer would have charged for a custom website.
You'd be a renter instead of an owner. If you use an off-the-shelf system, you are basically "renting" from the company providing the software, whereas with a fully customized website, you own all the code and can never be "locked out" of your store.
As Craft CMS developers, we use its commerce engine, Craft Commerce. We prefer Craft because it’s an open-source platform, it's flexible, and it was built with content marketers in mind.
We're passionate about building whatever our clients want and need for their stores, and Craft allows us to do development without limitations.