What to Look for in A Web Developer Agency for Your Ecommerce Store– 6 Steps for Hiring a Winner

searching a team

With each passing year, more and more people are developing a preference for doing their shopping online. For this reason, an increasing number of business owners are either looking to boost an existing business with an online presence, or dive into the eCommerce startup market. Before long, it becomes clear that in order to produce an effective website, you will need to hire capable designers and developers. From my own experience as a developer, what will certainly help understands the separate roles.

Ecommerce websites, more than any blog, require professional graphic designers, web designers and web developers. Hiring a professional graphic designer will ensure that the finished website is visually stimulating and easy on the eyes of your customers without detracting from your products. Graphic designers typically work with drawing apps like Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. Once you have settled on a design, a web designer is then tasked with bringing the Illustrator or Photoshop design to life on an actual webpage using code. Lastly, the developer handles technical aspects like running scripts on a website’s front-end and back-end and database administration.

#1. What Do You Want Your Ecommerce Website to Be Like? 

What do you want your eCommerce store or website to be like? That is an important question that should have a clear answer in order to be able to find the right developer agency for your website. As a developer, I have come to appreciate that a detailed answer to that question is non-negotiable for optimal results when hiring a developer. I know that it makes my work a lot easier.

series of ecommerce store

On your own end, take a look at what your competitors have already done. Include everything from wireframes, design mock-ups, or sketches that illustrate the concept you are going for, to a link to a website that you want yours to be modeled after, to sample background images and graphic style (sophisticated, minimalist, or otherwise), to features that must be included, and color schemes – in your job posting. It will make the graphic designer’s job easier and, in turn, the web designer and developer will have a clearer job.

Ecommerce websites include classifieds websites, dropshipping websites, pharmacy websites, real estate websites, sports betting websites, and many other types. While a dropshipping website and a classifieds website have a lot in common, they are quite different from pharmacy websitesYou need to make sure you know exactly what you want your website to look like before posting a job.

Once you have got that out of the way, you should start thinking about streamlining your search.

  • Web Design Agency’s Experience & Portfolio
  • Communication & Office Location
  • Reviews and Recommendations
  • Project Completion Time
  • How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Web Development Agency?

#2. Web Developer Agency’s Experience & Portfolio

One way to filter the countless companies you are bound to come across is by placing a high priority on experience. More often than not, it is better to hire an experienced agency. It’s not just about the years of experience but also experience designing eCommerce websites.

That means checking for portfolios that include websites featuring the most robust platforms and solutions like the robust Shopify platform, BigCommerce, and WooCommerce.

If you are trying to build a website with one of these implemented, it would certainly be comforting to know that the agency you are hiring has sufficient experience working with a particular platform. Assessing a development agency’s portfolio for websites designed with popular content management systems like WordPress and Joomla or web builders like Wix, Shopify, or Weebly will also help you gauge proficiency.

portfolio example

You will also be able to discern how good they are with a platform by comparing their work with the best implementations you can find. Apart from the front-end design for your shop, you should also know which payment processors would be a good fit and the best solutions for your website’s backend, which is critical for managing your user or admin database whether it is a dropship design or classifieds website. Getting a team with skilled programmers conversant with PHP, SQL, and JavaScript optimizations and portfolio evidence will be helpful.

#3. Communication and Office Location

Another factor that cannot be overlooked is communication. There is probably no better indicator for how well a business is run than how they interact with their customers. Watch out for how quickly the design and development team responds to your proposal. Granted, as an agency, they may be working on more than one project at a time. While a little flexibility is due in this regard, make sure you are comfortable with the detail and timeliness of your correspondence.

That should be non-negotiable if you are hiring on a freelance platform like Upwork. Some companies, however, place a lot of value in proximity regardless of whether or not they are hiring online. That notwithstanding, the last few years have seen a steady increase in preference for outsourcing web development. That is because, nowadays, most of the talented and experienced web developers prefer working remotely and online marketplaces are competitive bringing the best out of individual developers and agencies.

#4. Reviews and Recommendations

Hiring online provides a convenient advantage when it comes to making the right choice of an agency. Online platforms typically give you the ability to read reviews by previous customers to get an idea about general customer satisfaction. The higher the ratings, the better. Check for ratings on jobs similar to the one you are proposing. Customer reviews and recommendations continue to be a reliable indicator for what clients can expect from freelance development agencies on freelance marketplaces like Freelancer, Upwork, or Fiverr.

The same thing applies to traditional hiring. If you love a particular website design and are looking to replicate it, you could give the business a call and ask them to refer you the company that set it up. If that fails, you can look up similar websites online preferably outside your region and pose the question. Review and recommendations are a must whether you choose to hire offshore or locally.

#5. Project Completion Time

Time is of the essence. That is why you are considering hiring a contractor for your website in the first place. If you end up spending too much time on design and development, the aim would have been defeated. Efficiency and a quick turnaround are typically more expensive but usually worth it. You can get a general sense of how quickly the team works from customer reviews.

Aside from that, you can prevent that from happening by hashing out the details for a progress report. So, for example, clients could choose to be either updated daily or every other day. By so doing, you will be able to take care of any areas that need corrections while the designer or developer is still in the process. It is way better to do it this way that wait till the website is finished only to find out that you are not satisfied with a certain feature.

#6. How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Web Development Agency?

If you feel like a certain company fits the profile you are looking for, the next step is to come up with a budget. A budget for a project with a contract on an online platform should take into account whether the agency has agreed to work on an hourly basis on under a fixed-price contract. It stands to reason that a more experienced team would be perfect for an hourly contract because they could get so much done within a short period of time. On the other hand, you should prepare a budget for a fixed-price contract if you are hiring a talented but inexperienced team.

hourly rate vs fixed rate

At the end of the day it is important to remember the reason you have decided to pay for a website when settling on a budget and a contract. Whatever amount you agree to pay is an investment in a venture that should make you a lot of money. So, the focus should not necessarily be on the cheapest price you can get but rather on whether the site would be good enough to compete with other similar online retail businesses and improve your revenue.

Once you are certain that the company you have chosen to work with has delivered online shops that have helped businesses grow and are highly ranked in search engine results, you should feel confident about paying top dollar for the best result. Ecommerce websites are, far and away, the most sought after websites and getting the most talented designers and developers to set them up costs around 500 US dollars on the average. Building larger custom ecommerce sites could cost as much as 10,000 US dollars and above.


Yes, that is a lot of money. By the time you start seeing millions of unique visitors on a monthly basis, it would have been money well spent. Look at factors like skill level, years of experience, how large and sophisticated the website is, the online platform you are using for hiring, and where the company is located.

I have personally had to outsource when I worked on a large time-sensitive project for a client and being a developer, the steps outlined above came naturally to me. It really helped to know how to find an experienced development agency with positive customer reviews, a fast turnover, regular progress reports at a reasonable price. We certainly hope this material has been helpful as well. Did you find our tips helpful? Leave a comment below.


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