Looking for a Shopify developer but not sure how to go about finding the right one for your project?
In this Shopify developer tutorial, we'll teach you everything you need to know.
Why you should hire a Shopify developer
There’s plenty of things you need to worry about when starting an ecommerce business, including getting your product-market fit right, sourcing products, managing inventory, and creating a marketing strategy.
If you don’t have any developing experience yourself, you should let an expert handle the development side of things.
Hiring a developer will enable you to spend more time on building other parts of your business.
Shopify developers specialize in web development for Shopify websites exclusively. This means that they have unique insights and development experience compared to developers that don’t specialize in working on Shopify projects.
They understand how Shopify works, and have extensive knowledge of payment gateways, navigation, inventory systems, and checkout logic.
Developers know all the best practices regarding web development and can ensure that your website works flawlessly on any device.
Apart from making sure that your website follows the latest industry trends, a developer can also help you implement any feature you need to launch, manage, and grow your business.
Even if you just have a vague idea of what you want, an experienced developer can use their extensive knowledge of the platform to come up with the right solution.
In many cases, you will be able to use a page building Shopify app such as Shogun to make your site look and function the way you want without any outside help. That would save you some money - but in other cases, such as highly customized functionality or long-term site maintenance, you'll need the expertise of a professional Shopify developer.
What to look for in a Shopify developer
Apart from these essentials, you should also try to find a developer that has:
Excellent communication skills
You want to be able to know what the status of your project is at any time. Avoid unresponsive developers that take days or weeks to respond to your messages.
A good developer will let you know what you can expect to be accomplished over the next week or month, as well as set milestones and create a timeline.
An amazing portfolio
Your developer’s portfolio should be filled with plenty of Shopify projects, preferably for ecommerce businesses in your industry. Take some time to check out the websites in their portfolio, and note down anything you liked or disliked about them.
Check the websites’ load speed, functionality, and accessibility features.
Testimonials from satisfied customers
Look for developers that have a decent number of testimonials and reviews from satisfied customers. If a developer has testimonials from businesses in your industry, that’s even better.
A unique and innovative approach
Avoid hiring developers that pump out cookie-cutter websites that have very similar designs with minor differences. Instead, look for a developer that has displayed a unique and innovative way of thinking.
A satisfaction guarantee
Look for a developer that’s willing to redo the project an unlimited number of times until you’re happy. These types of developers are rare, but they’re worth every penny.
A post-development support plan
Even if a developer sets up your website correctly, a variety of different problems can occur down the road.
Since your developer will have the greatest understanding of how your website works, you’ll want them to be available for maintenance and support after they’ve finished the project.
How to hire a Shopify developer
Let’s look at the steps you need to take to hire a Shopify developer.
Have an idea of what you want to accomplish
While you don’t need to have all the minute details figured out, you should still have a general idea of what you want the developer to do.
How do you want your store to look? What functions and features do you need?
Are there any issues you need solved?
Having a few examples of different online stores whose elements you’d like to incorporate on your website will help your developer immensely.
Put all of this on paper so that you have talking points ready when you start interviewing candidates.
Set a budget
You’ll need to figure out how much money you can afford to spend before you go looking for a developer. In an ideal world, you’d be able to get everything you want with the budget you have available, but that’s not always the case.
Decide on a few features that you absolutely can’t do without, and then list some that would be nice to have. This will ensure that your project covers all the essentials in case you can’t afford to get everything you initially wanted.
Do extensive research
Don’t settle on the first developer that leaves a good impression. There are thousands of Shopify developers out there.
Ask people in your industry for recommendations, browse the Shopify forums, and check Quora and Reddit for opinions, testimonials, and reviews.
Do extensive research on potential candidates by checking out their portfolio, reviews, and social media profiles. Consider emailing their clients and asking what kind of experience they’ve had working with the developer.
Interview the best candidates
Create a shortlist of candidates that fit your criteria the best and schedule a call or in-person meeting with each of them.
During the interview, let developers know what your goals are and then ask them what kind of technical knowledge your project will involve. Once they give you an explanation, ask to see examples of their work that shows that they indeed possess that knowledge.
Look for developers that can clearly explain what they know, what they can do, and how they plan on approaching your project to help you achieve your goals.
Discuss the project with your chosen developer
You’ve found the right developer for your online store. Great!
Now it’s time to have a meeting to discuss the project in more detail. Get the developer on a video call and discuss your entire project from start to finish.
Make sure to mention any issues and ask for the developer’s input. Create milestones to make the project more manageable and help keep things moving forward.
Start the project
Before starting the project, you’ll need to work out a payment schedule that will work for both parties. The developer will most likely ask for a deposit.
Once you pay the deposit, the developer will start working on your project.
Make sure to review every milestone the developer completes, and only release payments once you’re completely satisfied with the results.
Where to find a Shopify developer
In this section, we’re going to cover the best places to find quality Shopify developers.
Shopify Experts directory
Shopify has its own directory of developers, designers, and freelancers that specialize in working with Shopify businesses. There are hundreds of developers listed in the directory. Here, you can review each developer’s location, pricing, and rating at a glance.
If you prefer meeting developers in person, you can attend Shopify Meetups, Shopify-focused events organized by the platform’s partners. Shopify Meetups are organized all over the world, and you’ll probably have no problem finding a Meetup that’s close to your location.
You can find a schedule of all the upcoming Meetup events here.
Upwork is an excellent place to post Shopify developer jobs. There’s a lot of Shopify developers on there, some of them excellent at what they do.
However, since Upwork doesn’t do any extensive screening of its freelancers (unlike the Shopify Experts directory), it might take you some time until you find a quality developer.
Hiring a developer on Upwork will inevitably involve creating a job posting for your project. You’ll want to include the following in your job posting to have the greatest chance of attracting a good developer:
- Background information - Let potential candidates know more about you, your company, and your products. Provide some insight into your goals and your target audience.
- Summary of your project - Give a precise explanation of what you want to accomplish with the project.
- Deliverables - Let developers know what type of deliverable you’re expecting upon project completion (e.g., a complete website).
- Existing assets - If you have any design guidelines, brand colors, website copy, or a logo, let candidates know about it.
- Timeframe - Make sure to include a deadline for your project. Keep in mind that delays are almost inevitable when it comes to development projects, so use a tighter deadline than you actually need.
Another freelance platform, except it has a lot higher standards for freelance talent compared to Upwork. Toptal screens all of its freelancers extensively.
The platform’s screening process includes language and personality tests, an in-depth skill review, live exercises, and test projects. Only 3% of applicants pass the platform’s screening test, which means that when you hire from Toptal, you’ll be working with the best of the best.
This does come at a steep price, though.
Clutch is a directory dedicated to listing the best digital agencies in existence. Their ecommerce development section currently lists more 8,600 agencies.
A dedicated ecommerce development agency can plan and complete your entire project from start to finish. They usually have multiple experts onboard, each of them specializing in a particular aspect of design or development.
While hiring an agency will usually get you a better and more comprehensive service, it will also cost substantially more compared to hiring a freelancer.
How much does it cost to hire a Shopify developer
By now, you’re probably looking to learn how much it’s going to cost you to hire a Shopify developer.
In general, how much you’ll need to spend on a developer will depend on the size and complexity of your project.
When estimating costs, a developer will take into account your traffic and sales goals, as well as feature and functionality requirements. The total cost for your project will be higher if you need a fully custom design compared to starting off of a template.
Development costs will also increase if you require product or customer data import, custom integrations, copywriting, or SEO.
Small projects usually go for anywhere between $3,000 to $5,000. For a medium-sized project, you’ll be looking at paying up to $10,000.
Large, complex projects will set you back anywhere from $10,000 to $100,000.
Hire a Shopify developer
Ecommerce business owners need to juggle a lot of different tasks to keep their online store running and generating sales. A Shopify developer can help relieve owners of having to worry about website development and a variety of technical issues that can arise during the course of operating an online store.
A great Shopify developer should have excellent communication skills, an amazing portfolio, testimonials from satisfied customers, and a unique and innovative approach. They should also offer post-development support.
When looking to hire a Shopify developer, make sure that you have an idea of what you want to accomplish. Set a budget for your development project and decide on the essential features that you can’t compromise on under any circumstances.
Make sure to do extensive research on available Shopify developers. Browse industry forums, as well as Reddit and Quora to find recommendations, reviews, and testimonials.
Create a shortlist of the best candidates and schedule a meeting with each of them. Try to learn more about each candidate and the way they approach development. Once you settle on a particular developer, discuss the entire project with them.
Set up milestones and agree on a payment schedule. After starting the project, make sure to review every completed milestone and only approve payments when you’re completely satisfied with the work.
There’s plenty of places where you can look for Shopify developers. Start by browsing the Shopify Experts directory. You can also participate in Shopify Meetups to try to meet developers in person. Freelance platforms such as Upwork and Toptal are another option. Upwork, in particular, is a great way to find affordable developers.
Finally, you can find a large number of ecommerce development agencies on agency directories such as Clutch. Note that this will most likely be the most costly option when it comes to developing your Shopify store.