We know that Shopify has a learning curve and if you’re not ready to dip into the theme code yet, then it can sometimes feel limiting. If you do like to DIY and figure things out yourself but find that you spend hours trying to do one little thing on Shopify, then we highly recommend hiring a developer. They can be quite inexpensive and save you a lot of stress and hassle when you could be working on other things, like what you're already great at!
Why work with a Developer
Working with a developer on Shopify allows you to remove limits to a theme's look and capabilities. If your client wants something specific, you can feel quite confident telling them that it can be done since Shopify's theme code is open to edit. You don't have to give them the disappointing answer of "that's not possible..." because it most likely is! We always recommend customizing your theme code to build a store that meets your client's unique store needs and stands out from competitors.
If you're worried about cost, we recommend always working some development costs into your quote, but we'll also tell you different options where you can find a developer that meets your budget.
Where to Find a Shopify Developer
Here I'll tell you the best places to find Shopify developers so that you can avoid having a Fiverr horror story and avoid wasting time, energy, and feeling disappointed or even missing your deadline. In this section, we've used affiliate links for companies that we've used and trust.
HeyCarson has a team of expert Shopify designers and developers. That means you can get help with design tasks like custom page designs, promo banners, and photo editing as well as development tasks like bug fixes, site speed improvements, and building custom sections. Their project rates start at $85/hour with a 2 hour minimum, or get an on-going support pack at a slight hourly discount. What's great is that you'll always communicate with the same project manager so you feel a real commitment to your project. HeyCarson boasts fast turnaround times and unlimited revisions which means you'll be 100% satisfied with the result!
Storetasker connects you with the best Shopify developers for big and small projects at a freelancer price. Project-based pricing means that you'll get a unique quote for your specific needs every time. You'll even notice that Storetasker's customer list includes some big brands, so you know they're good. What we love is that you can build a long-lasting relationship with a developer so that you'll always have someone that you trust to go to. Payment is held in escrow until you’ve reviewed the work so satisfaction is guaranteed here too!
On Upwork you can find freelancers with many different skillsets: development, marketing, copywriting, social media mangement and everything else, really. Here you'll find both great freelancers to work with, and not so great ones, so it will be very important to communicate clearly, and read reviews. But not to worry, your money is always held in escrow so someone can't disappear on you without doing the work. One advantage to Upwork is that you may be able to higher someone at a lower price than HeyCarson or StoreTasker, but you might end up with a bigger headache. From experience, I'd say that generally, the less that you pay, the more time you will spend asking for revisions and repeating what you need done. This isn't always true and there are definitely diamonds in the rough. Again, make sure that you read the freelancer's reviews!
Facebook groups and Instagram are a great place to find developers. If you join Shopify Facebook groups, there are always skilled people offering to help you solve your issue. On Instagram, I feel that the freelancer's face and reputation is very closely tied to their business so you have a heightened level of trust. This is great if you're looking to build a longterm relationship with a developer, as you can see what they post and how they act to see if it is a good fit before approaching them with the desire to collaborate.
If you're looking for someone local to you, then Google is the easiest way to find that person thanks to SEO. Search "Shopify developer my city name" and see what appears! I don't recommend limiting yourself geographically as you may miss some amazing opportunites to work with others, but I know some people do prefer to hire locally.
How to Create a Development Brief
Now that you've decided on where to hire a developer, let's talk about how to create a brief. You have to remember that someone can only do a good job if they’re given good direction about what you want. That's especially true of developers who may not have any design experience and may take their best guess at what you're trying to say.
If there are just small changes and tweaks that need to be made, then using screen recording software such as Loom is perfect. You can record your screen as you scroll through the design or website and talk through the changes you’d like. This is better than a video call because the developer will have the video to look back on, and a clear brief to work with.
You can also use a software such as Markup.io. This will import your website and allow you to ‘mark it up’ as the name suggests. You can leave comments comments, screenshots and even videos pinned to specific spots on the website on it so you can be really clear about what you need. The developer can reply to your comments if they have any questions, and can mark tasks as "resolved" once they're finished. We love that comments are separated based on desktop, tablet and mobile screen sizes.
If you want the developer to build the entire website or you have a lot of changes, then you'll need to create a mockup of the pages. The best thing is to try and show them. With mockups, there is little room for interpretation (unless there are animations or hover effects), and this can save a lot of time going back and forth with changes. Once you’ve created your design, record a Loom video (or similar) if there are any parts you need to explain. For example if you want a slideshow at the top, you’ll want to explain that’s what it is.
Make sure you think about how things are going to appear on mobile too. You could do the same process but for mobile, or let the developer make it compatible. By being clear upfront with desktop and mobile mockups, as well as written or recorded explanations, you can make sure that there are no misunderstandings, or disappointment in the outcome, and you'll stay on track with your deadline. The last thing you want is to be explaining what you’d like, only to find that they’ve misunderstood you, and spent time on something else.
Be aware that different screen sizes can mean your design looks different when you receive the built version. This is very common, and if you’re not happy with how it looks, record another Loom video to show your developer how it looks on your screen and how you’d like it changed. Keep in mind that 99.9% of customers shopping will be on screen sizes of 16" or less, so if something is looking a slightly off on your 27" iMac, don't become too obsessed about fixing it.
Get a Quote
Once you have your design and the brief, you can take it to different developers to see how much they would charge to build it for you. You might find that you got carried away by adding a lot of custom sections that will be expensive to build if they’re not included in your theme, so you might need to change or tweak your design after talking to a developer.
Make sure you get a fixed quote from whoever you hire. Something that you think is very simple might be complex and time-intensive to implement, or vice-versa. Getting a quote before hiring helps make sure that there are no surprises at the end, and that you're protected if the developer is learning on the job and takes a long time to do something. Quite often with websites, there will be bug fixes or errors, so you want to make sure you've agreed on a price or set amount of hours for a specific results. You don’t want to be paying them to endlessly fix bugs or correct their lack of attention to detail. Ask them to quote how much money the job will cost total.
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