Magento is a powerful eCommerce platform, but does have a steep learning curve. Companies often wonder how to choose the best Magento development agency. There are two stages of this choice:
- Look at your business needs and clarify what you want.
- Compare the available Magento development companies to choose the best one for you.
Before we dive into those two stages, let’s remind you why Magento is such a good choice:
- Magento handles over $155 billion in sales every year.
- There are over 250K Magento Merchants globally, and it is the 9th most popular CMS.
So, Magento has the features and eCommerce store options you’ll need to grow your business. But, can you do it on your own or do you need Magento developers to help you?
What to Do Before You Start Searching for the Right Magento Development Agency
Choosing Magento developers is a big choice and could be the single moment that defines the success of your project. The first stage in this decision is internal. Your business must determine what it needs and wants a development agency to do.
Of course, you should know what you are trying to do before you hire someone to do it. What are the benefits of outlining your project?
- Create a clear project scope to avoid wasted effort.
- A fresh set of eyes may reveal problems with the project before it begins.
- Putting your Magento store project on paper shows your real needs.
Once you’ve outlined your project, you’ll see the need for a Magento agency. But you may also save time and money by seeing what you don’t need. For example, you may not need every part of your project delivered simultaneously. So you could manage your budget by spreading the cost over a longer period of time.
Clarify What You Need a Magento Development Company to Do
A modern eCommerce website has a lot of different parts. The front-end and back-end are just the big names. To really get an accurate quote and project plan from a Magento development company, you’ll want to make a list of the things you need from the development agency.
- Which plugins or extensions do you need for your business?
- Are there specific functions your website needs that aren’t part of a normal store?
- Can your team accomplish some of the project without the developer?
Gaining clarity on your specific needs will make your project development much more efficient.
How much will your project cost? This question is important for your own budget, but also for which Magento web development company you choose to work with. If you have limited funds, then you could choose to work with international Magento agencies because they may be less expensive.
To get more development for your money, consider choosing a longer timescale, incorporating less functions, or delaying some parts of the project until after launch.
The internet is a big place. This can help you find Magento web development services from all over the world. Or, you can work with a development agency in your own town. What difference does it make?
- Local companies could be more available because they are in your time zone and could make site visits for closer collaboration.
- National companies may be suitable for more complex projects because they have grown enough to hire specialists.
- International companies may be less expensive because their developers could be working in places with lower wages.
Each of these has advantages and disadvantages. The key is to settle on the Magento agency that feels like the best choice for your business.
Let’s get into the heart of this article, the rules for making the best choice. These aren’t laws, but some of them are more important than others. We start off with the most important one, which we think ought to be a law.
Is it a Magento Certified Agency Or a Magento Solutions Partner?
These two are connected. They will show you the level of experience and training the agency has with the Magento platform. Magento operates a formal certification system. In order to qualify as a Magento Solution Partner, the company must have completed a certain number of Magento projects and employ certified Magento developers.
Don’t let any company fool you with other words, titles, or logos. Ask to see their credentials and verify them. This is the best way to ensure they have thorough knowledge of the Magento eCommerce platform.
The minimum level of experience you should require will be determined by a few things:
- The complexity of your project. A larger project requires more Magento services and integrations. Less experienced companies may not have experience with complex projects. This lack of experience could cause problems later.
- Your timeline and deadlines may require a more experienced Magento development agency. Working slowly is easier than working quickly. So, if you have a tight schedule, you might need a more experienced partner.
- Experience costs money. A project with a tight budget might attract a Magento agency with less experience. Depending on your needs, this could be fine or it could be a problem.
Don’t be afraid to set a minimum level of experience for your project. The eCommerce business is full of competition and you’ll need the best Magento development company you can afford.
We already mentioned working with a Magento Solution Partner as a guideline. A step beyond this is ensuring the specific developers you work with are also certified developers. Some Magento development companies use a mix of Magento developers and non-certified developers.
This may be okay to reduce costs, but you will want to know who is working on your project. On the other hand, you can insist the Magento development agency uses fully qualified developers on your project. If this is in doubt, write it into the contract before you begin.
The best Magento development agencies use project managers to coordinate the work of their teams. You’ll want to know who your project manager will be and how much experience they have.
There are a few questions you can ask your project manager:
- How many Magento websites have they overseen?
- What’s their experience in the eCommerce industry?
- How many projects have they completed in the past year or quarter?
It’s easy to think of these questions as being invasive or too detailed. However, your business may spend thousands of dollars during the entire process. Asking questions at the beginning may be essential for getting the best results at the end.
A good Magento development company works with dozens or hundreds of clients. They should have a portfolio of previous clients. Ask to see their references.
When reviewing their portfolio, here are some things to check out:
- Which innovative solutions have they actually implemented?
- Are there customers in their portfolio that resemble your business?
- How do those online stores appear to be performing?
You can reach out to their previous customers. Ask how well they responded to customer needs during the deployment process. Ask about their development process and how closely the end result matched the project specifications. Ask about how close the final project cost was to the initial budget.
Considering the budget of your project, you are entitled to ask these questions. What about the questions they should ask you?
Magento website development is a collaborative process. So, the right Magento agency will ask you questions, too. They may want to know a few things:
- The number of pages, categories, and products in your online store.
- The turnover of your online business as an indicator of traffic volume.
- Any specific business needs you have that require specialized development.
Their feedback to you during the hiring process is a clear signal to you about how they will behave during the development process. If they take days or weeks to respond to messages, this is a bad sign. Likewise, they should be open to talking clearly about the budget.
Their business offer to you should be cogent, detailed, and professional. If they aren’t asking questions and responding to your queries, then they may not be the right Magento agency for your project.
A strong Magento agency also works like eCommerce consultants. They will be thinking about how to grow your business, not just build your website.
Ideally, your chosen agency will have a proven workflow for deploying Magento eCommerce stores. You could find this on their website or in their onboarding documents. If they do not have a clear workflow on paper somewhere, you must ask them about it.
Here’s what you’re looking for:
- A clear beginning phase for their eCommerce development projects.
- Outline of the major blocks of work for their projects, and your project specifically.
- How they manage testing and quality assurance during and after the project.
A professional development company that works with eCommerce platforms will be able to show you their process and how they will adapt their existing process to your specific project requirements.
Maintaining security is important because customers require trust. You also face competition and some competitors might even be on the lookout for your data. You’ll want to work with Magento certified partners who keep your data and customers secure.
There are a few indicators of good security:
- Simple things, such as secure storage and secure messaging, should be standard practice from the very beginning of your work together.
- Look for a company that keeps their communications tight. Sending email and messages should happen through a key contact, not a random list of people.
You may also consider extra security for your project. Consider a non-disclosure agreement to protect any intellectual property or competitive advantages that are essential to your business.
Look for a Magento agency that knows how to deploy an online store properly. Magento merchants are not in business for projects. They need active stores, sales, and leads. Successful Magento agencies have multiple deployments in their portfolio.
Here’s what you’re looking for:
- A clear plan for project deployment, including the testing environment and transition to a live site.
- The steps to be taken after the deployment process to run initial quality and functionality tests.
- Ongoing maintenance plans for how the site will be monitored during its initial time online.
Experienced project managers and agencies will have done this a number of times, so they will be able to walk you through how your deployment will go.
Only Begin After Your Project Brief Arrives
High-quality projects should only begin after a full brief is developed. The development company should provide a project brief with plenty of details. You should look for:
- Main project timeline
- Task list and task dependencies
- Budget breakdown for project objectives
The project brief really is your main guiding document for the project. If the company cannot produce a good project brief, you should probably look elsewhere.
Your eCommerce needs will not stop the day your new store launches. You will need a full-service agency that can stay with you during the months after launch. Here’s why you need support after launch:
- Changes and updates to the Magento platform may require tweaks to your online business.
- Fresh market insights could point to additional features you can add to your store.
- Things might stop working without a simple explanation. You’ll need troubleshooting help to fix unexpected problems.
Of course, there are constant security updates and patches to be implemented. Unless you love doing these yourself, you should hire a web development company that can manage them for you.
At the end of the project or deployment, the code should be transferred to you without reserve. The rights to your website’s underlying code should be yours once the project is finished. While this is standard practice, some less reputable companies will smuggle an alternative into their contracts. Look for a company that is upfront with you at all times.
Solid Magento web development companies take customer service seriously. They know the value of a good customer relationship and take steps to build positive partnerships. Here’s what to look for:
- Dedicated customer service reps who have the time to make your project their priority.
- Clear reporting procedures to stay up to date with progress.
- An established system for oversight and, if necessary, a complaints procedure.
You don’t want to launch a project imagining all the problems you might encounter. But a good agency knows this, too. They will have procedures in place to manage their service delivery quality.
Choosing the best Magento development company for your business is important, but not complicated. You can follow these guidelines to make the process is simple as possible. This will help you choose the best Magento agency for your project.
If you’d like to skip a lot of the process and talk with the best, give us a call. You can speak to one of our experts and arrange a free consultation.