Hiring a Magento web design and development agency

If you’re looking to hire a Magento web design agency, we have a guide of useful questions to ask!

by Richard Carter.

So, you’ve settled on Magento as your new ecommerce platform? Great! Your next task is to find the best Magento web design and development agency for you.

Ecommerce can be a complex business, and if you’re investing your time, effort and money to work with a web design agency, you need to be sure they can deliver your project to the best quality for your budget.

“if you’re investing your time, effort and money to work with a web design agency, you need to be sure they can deliver your project to the best quality for your budget”

This guide is designed to help your organisation find the best possible Magento agency for your needs by providing a list of things to consider when commissioning a new web design agency. Many of these points could apply more generally to hiring a web design agency of any specialty, but given our passion and reputation for Magento. At a brief glance, this guide includes:

  1. Using Magento Community versus Magento Enterprise
  2. Migrating your data to Magento
  3. Viewing Magento portfolios and profiles
  4. Considering mobile and tablet designs for your store
  5. Magento training courses
  6. Promoting and marketing your Magento store
  7. Magento hosting and ongoing support after launching

1. Magento Community versus Magento Enterprise

Have you considered whether you want to use Magento Community Edition or Magento Enterprise Edition (there’s a good list of additional features in Magento Enterprise here) for your project? This will likely depend on your store’s turnover, and whether the additional features are likely to be of benefit to you; your chosen Magento agency should be able to walk you through the differences and help you assess which platform is best for you.

Some agencies don’t have experience with Magento Enterprise, and though they’re similar code-wise, employing an agency with Enterprise Edition experience can save you time and money!

2. Migrating your data to Magento

If you have an existing online store and want to move to Magento, consider the need to migrate all of your data. This will likely include:

  • Customer account data
  • Order history
  • Products, including images, descriptions, related products and upsell products
  • Product categories
  • Static content (e.g., terms and conditions pages)
  • Discount codes and promotional codes
  • Shipping rates and rules

Being clear with your Magento agency is key here: make sure they know how many customer accounts, products and other types of content there are, and in what format they can be provided in, when discussing your project so they are able to budget accordingly.

3. View Magento portfolios & profiles

Has your chosen Magento agency worked on stores of similar sizes in terms of products and categories? Have they worked on stores with similar requirements as yours. For example, if you require a multilingual Magento store, or a store with multiple currencies, or a specific shipping rate set up, does the agency have experience configuring those for Magento?

A glance at the agency’s Magento portfolio should give you a good idea of what the agency has done previously, and give you an indication of whether or not they can deliver the store you’re after.

Looking at a Magento agency's portfolio is a good guide to their experience

Sometimes, agencies can’t disclose the exact client they have worked for due to non-disclosure agreements, so viewing their profile of Magento experience can also be useful in building a picture of the agency’s experience.

4. Mobile and tablet-friendly websites

Typically, our clients’ stores have around 30% to as much as 90% of traffic from mobile and tablet devices, so depending on your niche catering to users on devices such as iPads and iPhones can be a very worthwhile investment in your new Magento website.

Your chosen Magento agency should be able to help you assess the options available to you for mobile devices, which will include:

  • Using a responsive Magento theme to allow one website to adapt to different devices: this is the most common approach, and allows all of your design and development budget

5. Magento training

Training courses are essential for you to make the most of your Magento store

Magento can be quite overwhelming for first time users due to its feature-rich nature, so asking about Magento training courses is a good way to ensure you’ll be able to use your new website once it’s launched!

Asking if your Magento agency can provide a Magento training course for you, to help you get to grips with the essentials of running your store on the new platform on a day-to-day basis. Training courses can be tailored for different users: for example, training may be differently targeted for people packing and dispatching orders than for your finance team who need to access reports on sales.

6. Promoting your Magento store

No online store is of use unless it has customers, so promoting your store is key. Typical avenues for promoting your online store may include:

  • Paid advertising in search engines, such as with Google Adwords.
  • Paid advertising in social networking.
  • Search engine optimisation to promote your product listings in Google and Bing’s natural search listings.
  • Social media such as Twitter and Facebook.

Different agencies have different skill sets, and the nature of your business will also help define which approaches will likely work best for your business. Even if your Magento agency don’t provide digital marketing services, it’s worth checking they’re aware of your marketing and search engine requirements at an early stage. And remember that your Magento store is something that will develop over time: it’s worth analysing how your store is performing and looking in to conversion rate optimisation and ongoing improvements on a regular basis.

7. Magento hosting and support

Lastly,but not least, you will need to consider where to host your Magento store, and where ongoing support to apply security patches and make other changes to your website will come from. Some agencies host Magento themselves; other development agencies will work with partners to provide you with hosting for the website. It’s worth asking about:

  • Availability: 100% uptime of your website is very difficult to achieve, but a high availability is essential to make sure customers can place orders 24/7.
  • Redundancy: if your server fails, do you have a secondary server? Some Magento hosts can offer this feature and for larger stores it can be worth the additional cost.
  • Speed: test some of the Magento websites hosted by the company: are they quick to load? Speed is key for customers and also plays a factor in search engine rankings.
  • Backups: is data backed up on a regular basis? Losing data can mean losing orders and frustrating your customers.

Most, if not all, Magento agencies will offer a support package, too. Magento maintenance is important because keeping Magento up to date and secure protects your customers’ data and your reputation, and regular maintenance should mean your store it easier to update. And, as your Magento store grows and develops, having a helping hand for some tasks can be

If you found this guide to hiring a Magento agency useful, you might also find our more generic guide on writing a web design tender useful!