Do You Need a Shopify Developer? Let’s Talk About It.
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Over the past decade, Shopify has become one of the most popular, easy-to-use e-commerce platforms out there. It now claims nearly 11% of the total e-commerce market share, making it a top competitor against giants like WooCommerce and Squarespace.
Most noticeably, Shopify offers an extremely user-friendly interface. Entrepreneurs with little to no web building experience can craft beautiful, responsive websites–usually for less than a thousand dollars upfront.
So, if brands and individuals can build stores on their own, do you need to work with a Shopify developer?
The answer depends on what you want from your website, your timeline, and your budget. Let’s dive into the main reasons for hiring a professional Shopify developer so that you can determine what you need (and what you don’t).
DIY Shopify Stores Are Free–But Basic
The first big reason to consider hiring a Shopify developer is customization.
When you set up a Shopify store, the process is relatively streamlined. The platform is made to be straightforward, even for amateurs with limited web developing experience. It may take some time for beginners to get the hang of things, but within a few days, they’ll be able to build an entire website from scratch.
Although this ease-of-use is a bonus in some respects, it also means that the development process is also relatively basic.
You’ll be able to handle many simple tasks, such as adding your products and changing small aspects of your theme. However, there’s a world of opportunity that lies outside standard Shopify development–and most need a professional’s help to tap into it.
For example, do you want to:
Customize your store’s checkout process or payment gateways?
Implement advanced search and filtering algorithms?
Integrate third-party software or apps into your store?
Complicated functionality requirements like these will require a certain level of expertise–likely beyond that of a first-time store creator using the Shopify platform.
If you have a budget for Shopify development and are willing to spend a little more, hiring a professional developer can get you the store you want–not just the one standard Shopify tools and templates can get you.
A Unique Shopify Theme Is More Competitive
Speaking of customization, cookie-cutter Shopify templates are not the best way to ensure you catch shoppers’ attention.
Sure, you can tweak most pre-built themes to reflect your brand’s personality, but there are hundreds of faceless, nearly identical Shopify stores out there. You don’t want to build a Shopify store that looks like all of the others.
Think about popular brands like Amazon and eBay. Their websites are tailored to meet their exact personalities and branding, and they provide a superb user experience.
When a shopper visits your Shopify site, you want them to instantly recognize your brand and its products. To achieve this, you’ll need to utilize different layouts, color combinations, and graphics–and that usually requires working with a trained designer and/or developer.
Hand-coding Shopify store designs is the best way to achieve a unique, attractive storefront. Working with a professional web developer gives your site that extra edge over other online stores. Your website will look more credible, professional, and one-of-a-kind.
Furthermore, most search engines aren’t fans of run-of-the-mill website templates. You’ll stand a better chance in Google search results if your Shopify theme has been built around the latest SEO trends and standards. Standard themes might be pretty, but they aren’t necessarily built to improve your SERP rankings.
Of course, custom-designed Shopify stores are markedly more expensive than pre-designed Shopify themes. If you can’t afford to splurge on website development services upfront, you may want to go with a more affordable template.
On the other hand, if cost isn’t as big of a concern to your online business, designing a custom Shopify theme can be an enormously rewarding investment. Consider what’s important to your e-commerce store and how you can best draw in your customers. At least get a few quotes for paid theme development before making your decision.
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What Does Your Store’s Timeline Look Like?
The next thing you’ll need to think about is your timeline. How quickly do you need this store finished? Do you have time to learn the ins and outs of building a store from scratch–or do you need a pro that can develop your website rapidly?
It doesn’t matter what the task might be–working with a professional is almost always the most efficient way to get something done. Paid developers will have the knowledge, skills, and tools needed to get your website up and running in a matter of days rather than weeks. Most developers will give you a ballpark of between 20 to 40 hours to create a standard Shopify website from scratch, depending on its requirements.
If you’re already working a full-time job, you likely can’t afford to dedicate an entire week to learning how to use Shopify and creating your website. Hiring a Shopify expert is a substantial financial burden, but it will save you many, many hours of headaches and labor.
So, the question is this: Is it more important to get your site done quickly and painlessly, or to save money by doing it yourself?
There’s no right or wrong answer, but for many store owners, hiring a Shopify developer is the fastest and easiest way to get their e-commerce website running.
Consider Your E-Commerce Store Budget
In this last section, we want to look a little more closely at the costs associated with Shopify store development–professional or not.
The Price of a DIY Shopify Store
Shopify’s basic plan costs $29/month. Unless your store has unique requirements or you’re opening physical retail stores shortly, you likely don’t need the more expensive plans, which go up to $299/month.
You will still need to buy a theme for your store, which will likely cost between $180 and $300. There are some free options, but you’ll likely want to steer clear of those if you want a more unique, professional look.
All in all, for a DIY Shopify store, you’re likely looking at less than a grand in upfront expenses. That’s the beauty of learning and using the platform on your own–but you will have to dedicate serious time, thought, and planning to the project.
The Price of a Professionally Developed Shopify Store
When hiring an individual developer or larger development company, you’ll find that different candidates have different prices depending on their experience, as well as your Shopify project’s difficulty and timeline.
Most professional developers work on an hourly rate, although some do offer fixed prices for online store projects. Business owners should expect to pay anywhere from $500 to $15,000, depending on the extent and scale of their projects.
Don’t be too frightened by that incredibly large range–most standard Shopify store setups can be completed for less than $5,000. Still, that’s a hefty sum, especially when compared to the cost of building a Shopify store without the help of a developer.
So, Should You Hire Shopify Developers?
The bottom line is that professional e-commerce development offers immense value when it comes to customization, web design, integrations, and efficiency. However, your budget and business needs will dictate if that value outweighs the upfront costs of a developer’s services.
Our recommendation is to fully explore both options before making a decision. Learn how much a Shopify web developer would charge for your project, then assess if the benefits of those services are worth the elevated expenses. In many cases, you’ll find that they are.
About the author
Jack Shepler is a Marketing and Search Engine Optimization expert from Indianapolis, Indiana. He founded Ayokay, an award-winning web design and marketing firm that has built brands and increased sales for businesses since 2011. A Forbes Next 1000 awardee, he uses his decades of experience to educate through the Ayokay blog and through public speaking. You can follow him on LinkedIn.