Gentian is the CEO at Shero (@sherodesigns). He is dedicated to making their Magento blog an important resource for Magento store owners and retailers researching Magento’s capabilities. He is also a firm believer of inbound marketing. In this blog, Gentian shares his expertise on finding the right Magento agency and Magento developer.
In our previous post, How to Choose a Magneto Agency or Magento Developer – Part 1, Gentian explains the process of deciding what you want out of your Magento provider.
The next step is to choose a provider that best fits your needs. In order to make the best choice, it is important to know about the different types of providers that are available.
There are three main types of Magento providers:
1) Big Magento Agencies
These agencies have a minimum of 50 employees and are an official Magento partner. Usually they are a Gold Magento Partner. Some of the most popular agencies that fall in this category are Gorilla Group, Blue Acorn, Corra, etc.
The main characteristic of these agencies is that they have huge teams with a wide array of backgrounds and experiences. They usually have a pretty complex structure and systems in place, and work primarily with the Magento Enterprise platform. Their staff is comprised of a large sales teams, Magento certified developers, designers, account managers, project managers, front and back end developers, QA and A/B testing teams, marketing and analytics specialists, etc.
Having such a huge team in place means that your website will be coded with the latest standards, be thoroughly tested before launch, and will most probably be a great success. The downside of working with one of these big Magento agencies is that the price they usually charge per project is pretty high due to their overhead. They will have contractual obligations in place in order to maintain the level of their Solution Partner status with Magento (either Silver or Gold). Their minimum project price starts at around 120K and up. A common characteristic of the big agencies is that part of their team is located off-shore. Because of the size, the hierarchical nature of the organization, and location of the team members (e.g. different time-zone, cultural differences etc) it might take longer to get something done, and your vision might not be communicated exactly as you intended.
2) Medium-Sized Magento Agencies
These are agencies that have roughly between 5-50 people on staff. Most of the time, such agencies are a Magento Silver Partners or Magento Associates, but not always. Their teams are smaller than the teams of bigger agencies. They will have a mix of Magento certified and noncertified developers on staff, smaller sales teams (or individual salesperson), designers, account managers, and project managers. When working with a smaller agency, you should be able to get a quick turn around on support issues, and know specifically who you’re working with at any given time. Generally speaking, the whole team will be located in the same location or time-zone and you’ll receive more personalized service as the team becomes familiar with working with you. Usually their prices will be lower than those of big agencies.
The downside of working with a smaller agency is that their capabilities are more limited. Smaller agencies can become overrun if they take on too many projects, and that can slow down productivity. There is only so much that they can get accomplished in any given time frame, and the length of time it takes them to complete a project may be longer than an agency with more staff that can handle the workload.
3) Individual Magento Developers
Individual developers are people who are usually very skilled and talented programmers. Most of the time they work by themselves who usually work alone. A relationship like this is beneficial in certain ways because they usually have less clients so they focus on the ones they have and help you develop on a more personal level. This can also be less expensive because one person will not have the overhead of a full agency and the multi layers of management. All requests will go through that one individual.
They usually specialize in one aspect of Magento. It is rare to find an individual who has strength in design implementation, shipping configuration, and back end development. They usually have a focus, or major strength but can get by in other areas. Being versatile is critical for this person because they will be wearing many hats.
The downside is that you’ll have one person you will be relying on so if they are sick or go away while something major happens, you’ll get stuck. Note, this sole person will not have the capability and specialized skills of a full team of experts but they are pros in their own right and if you find a good individual who is reliable you should treat them as gold since it is rare.
Once you’ve decided to choose to go with, small/big agency or an individual developer, the discussions start. You’ll want to give your Magento provider as much information as possible from the get-go. Do your homework, and give them time to truly understand what your project is. They’ll be able to give you an accurate estimate based on the information you’ve provided.
One Magento agency may charge more because they have more experience, more qualified staff, and do a better job. Another agency may come lower because they have more experience with the theme you’ve chosen or have built a website similar to your industry in the past. Price shouldn’t always be the final determining factor. Instead, look at their past work and ask for references. Talk to their existing customers at length. This my seem blunt, but make sure they are in the same time zone as you. Do they ship all of their work overseas? What is their workload? How do they handle post-launch support? Learn more about their team.
When it comes down to that final decision, it should be one you’re comfortable with. If their vision for your brand doesn’t match what you want, if their experience isn’t what you’re looking for, and if they’re not professional enough for you – don’t choose the smaller price tag.
You’re going to spend more in the long run trying to make up for past mistakes. Choose the agency or developer that expresses themselves clearly, concisely, and reasonably. Most importantly, choose the one that can see your vision and help you achieve it.
Read more from Gentian and the Shero Designs team on their Magento Blog.