Development cost vs quality: finding the balance

Development cost vs quality: finding the balance

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Getting development work done at a cost that works while maintaining high levels of quality can sometimes feel like an impossible task.  It can seem like you either need to sacrifice quality to get a better cost, or sacrifice cost to get better quality.  But, I've got some good news - there is a middle ground where you can get quality work done, at a price that works for you, plus with no markup on developer services.

Why is it so important to have an experienced developer work on your store?  Well, eCommerce stores are highly complex, offering a breadth of functionality that goes well beyond other types of sites, and with so much choice, whatever product or service you're looking for, customer expectations for your store are understandably high. Customers take just seconds to decide whether or not they like your store and would be willing to buy from it.  So by offering the customer a modern store that looks great, and functions well will get you off to a really solid start.

Our previous post on how to find success with your eCommerce store talks about the people you need to have in place including, in no small part, a high quality, experienced developer.  Running an eCommerce store effectively really isn't something that's possible solo anymore, and your developer is an absolutely indispensable team member without whom you just can't effectively action the requirements of virtually every other team member.  In that post, I gave you a few stats like:

"During Christmas 2020 we saw the percentage of internet sales as a part of total sales rise to a staggering nearly 38% in the UK. By contrast, for Christmas 2019 this figure sat at less than 22%" - Jonathan Hussey

With such a shift toward online sales and with huge competition, it's not hard to see why your eCommerce offering needs to be extremely strong in order to compete and bring in those sales.


You want an experienced developer who you know will follow best practices to ensure long term good performance and functionality for your eCommerce store, but your budget isn't infinite.  Going for the cheapest option is a short term view that will only harm your business in the long run, but you're not sure where to go to find that balance of cost vs quality.  There's a few things it's important for you to consider when thinking about how you can get that balance just right.

Middle of the scale

I would never recommend you go with any lowest price developer as the quality just won't be there, and I know that the other end of the scale often doesn't work either because cost is basically prohibitive for most SMB's.

It's easy to track down lowest cost developers using things like freelancer networks and similar, and the same is true for the other end of the scale with well established and affiliated development agencies.

But you want to be somewhere in the middle which is sometimes covered by things like work agencies, but they charge a premium for connecting you with developers who fit your requirements, and there's also no guarantee of the kind of specialised experience needed for eCommerce development.

There are actually countless quality, experienced, and eCommerce specialised developers in this middle ground, and there's a way to connect with them with no markup on their rate which I talk about later on.

Think long term

When you decide to undertake a development task on your eCommerce store, however small or large, the goal should be to end up with a solution that lasts and functions correctly for the foreseeable future.  Requiring this means you need an experienced developer as they'll have the right knowledge to make sure a solution is built and implemented using best practices.  This means you'll end up with a solution that's upgrade friendly, and ensures the correct operation of your store into the foreseeable future.

Any experienced developer of your eCommerce framework will automatically have this mindset and intention when working on your store.

Development timeframe

It's common to ask a developer to provide an estimate for the work you need doing to give you a ballpark figure of how much your project could cost.  Unfortunately, it's also common for the developer to find that their estimate is hard to swallow for the client.

In this case, if the project is on the larger side, then it's key to remember the timescale over which work will be completed.  You won't be looking at a single upfront payment here, but instead multiple payments over likely an extended period of time.

Say for example you need a brand new store building, and have fairly complex functional and integration requirements.  This could easily take a year or more to build when you consider the usual development stops and starts of a longer term project while, perhaps the spec is ironed out, or relationships with third-party services providers are established.

So while seeing a single estimated figure for development work over the course of the entire project can feel high, don't forget that actually that cost is likely to be spread over 12 or more monthly payments, making it much more palatable.  You don't need one lump sum upfront, instead the cost will be coming out of the standard business operating profits over the course of the project.

Your business

Couldn't be more obvious in many ways, but sometimes we don't directly realise the impact on our own business when we have poor quality development work done on our store.  The eventual outworking of this, however long it might take, is that it harms the business you love and are striving to make succeed, because it adversely affects the customer experience.  When this is the case, customers certainly let you know as you watch your sales decline, and they move to the competition.

Your options

There are a number of options you have to potentially connect with a quality, affordable developer, but certainly not all of them guarantee success in finding the developer you're looking for - that is except the last one which offers you by far your best opportunity.

Freelancer networks

For the vast majority of the time it's true that you're unlikely to find experienced, high quality developers on freelancer networks.  But, it does happen from time to time, so while the likelyhood is really very low, it still could be worth a look if you don't mind sifting through sometimes near countless irrelevant profiles and low quality applicants, just in case there is a high quality one in there.  Just don't expect too much!

Employment agencies

While an employment agency might have a quality, affordable developer for you on their books, in reality specific eCommerce expertise is far from guaranteed.  Also the agency markup on the developers rate could well make a working relationship too expensive anyway.  You're also not going to get much in terms of choice - they'll probably only have a very minimal number of suited devs on their books making using an employment agency often just down to luck.

Personal recommendations

Often one of the better choices, personal recommendations will usually come from someone who has used and liked a developer before.  If the price works, then there's often little reason not to go ahead, but personal recommendations are typically few and far between, with no guarantee of availability, or that the developers rate works for you.

Affiliated development agencies

Most of the time affiliated development agencies, while quality should always be good, will be at a price point that make them unattainable for the vast majority of SMB's.  But, if you're leaning more towards the large business side of the SMB scale, there's no harm in at least making enquiries to get an idea of if the cost works for you - just make sure you go in expecting prices to be high.

Developer Connection

Here's the good news - Developer Connection was created specifically to remove the blockers you as a business owner have experienced when trying to make meaningful, long lasting working relationships with quality, experienced developers for your store.  Even though it might not seem like it sometimes, there are actually countless developers who can complete high quality, long lasting development work on your store at an efficient and cost-effective price point.

At Developer Connection we connect you with these developers quickly and easily, with these outstanding benefits:

  • It's completely free to create a project and get instantly connected to 5 high quality, experienced, and exactly suited developers for any work from a minor bugfix taking just a few hours, to long term work over many months.
  • Developers are vetted and reviewed by us to guarantee quality.
  • They have guaranteed availability for your project - if they aren't available they won't even be shown as an option.
  • Adding a budget to your project means you only see developers in your price range.
  • We don't add any markup to developer rates for work done.
  • You get direct contact details so there's no ties to us at all.
  • It's possible to leave reviews for both clients and developers as personal recommendations for others.

Get started now by spending a few minutes creating your project, or if you are an experienced developer yourself, join today.

Alternatively if you want to learn more about why Developer Connection is your best choice for connecting with your next quality, affordable eCommerce developer, have a look at our blog post on why you should choose Developer Connection.

Thanks for reading and we look forward to having you on board!

Find eCommerce developersFind eCommerce developers
Find eCommerce developersFind eCommerce developers
Find eCommerce developersFind eCommerce developers