Whether you’re creating your first ecommerce website or are redesigning your existing website, it is essential for you to work closely with your developer. Here are four questions to ask your developer.
By Jason Hesse
Having a well-designed ecommerce website will help your sales grow. Yet before you can achieve this sales growth, there are a few important questions that you need to ask your developer.
1. Who owns the finished code?
If the developer owns the code to your ecommerce website, you’ll be permanently attached to them. While it can be more expensive to own the final code, it does give you more flexibility.
It’s never good to switch developers halfway through a project, but if you own the code, at least you can take the existing work with you to a new developer, rather than having to start from scratch. But you will need to agree this with the developer at the beginning of the process.
2. Does your fee include support?
When signing up a developer, check whether the fee is for the website build only, or if it also includes development support.
Support usually means giving you a few hours of the developer’s time a month to tweak the website. This should keep you covered should any nasty glitches show up once the site is live. Plus, if you keep your developer on a small retainer, they’ll be more likely to make any changes that you request as part of that, rather than trying to charge you extra for their time.
3. Which browser will the website work best on?
Ecommerce sites don’t look the same in each browser, so it’s important that yours gets built with your customers in mind. If your site meets W3C standards, it should work on most browsers.
According to research by StatCounter (http://gs.statcounter.com/#browser-ww-weekly-201120-201220), Google Chrome is now the world’s most-used browser (33 per cent of global internet users), followed by Internet Explorer (32 per cent), Firefox (25 per cent) and Safari (7 per cent). This varies by country, though, so look into it before deciding to ensure that your ecommerce website is appropriate.
4. Will the site depend on technologies such as Java or Flash?
You’ll want your developer’s answer to be “no” for this question. If the website’s usability is dependent on a specific technology, some people won’t be able to see and use it.
If the site is built on a Flash platform, for example, make sure your developer also codes it so that it’s HTML compliant – and likewise for Java. While Flash can make your site look good, most developers view it as evil. It isn’t good for usability or search-engine optimisation, both of which are vital for you to boost your ecommerce sales.