In the second part of our Themes vs Custom Development blog series, we hear from Chetu, an Official PrestaShop Partner Agency since 2011. Today, Seth Burger, PR and Partnership Specialist at Chetu, shares the benefits of custom eCommerce web development. Read on to see why he believes custom development dominates template themes.
Creating a successful ecommerce website is not always easy or inexpensive. To reduce costs and shorten lead times, commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) generic templates and themes may seem like an attractive option. However, there are instances when hiring an agency to develop and implement your custom ecommerce website might be more appropriate.
5 reasons custom development might be right for your site
1) Dynamic User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX)
Consumers subconsciously take into account a site’s color, shape, visual balance and performance. If you do these things right, your fully functioning and navigable site will leave your customers with a positive impression. Not only does this elevate your brand but it increases the likelihood of purchases and repeat business. Templates and themes offer simple, generic designs with limited functionality, which can be great when starting out. To go further with your online store, consider opting for custom website development which can help you achieve:
- Meaningful use of composition to entice and establish priorities
- Intuitive website navigation
- Logically displayed information
- Optimized content for fast load times
- An interactive and immersive experience
2) Unique Processes
Custom developed ecommerce websites are well suited for businesses with specific processes that require unique features to be carried out correctly. These processes may include background, identity and credit checks. There should be no compromising on essential business functions and processes - customization is the only way to build a high-quality online store.
3) Custom Integrations
At some point, an ecommerce establishment may need to integrate business systems into their website. Although some template and theme packages offer integration with popular platforms, they are limited in custom functionality. Customized websites ensure optimum operational integration between the site and your business system. Customization allows for direct integration with a platform’s Application Program Interface (API), allowing for complete use of a third party application. Some common business systems you may want to integrate with include:
- Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
- Inventory Management Systems
- Warehouse Management Systems (WMS)
- Supply Chain Management (SCM)
4) Marketing and SEO
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a widely adopted marketing tactic used to increase traffic and brand awareness. Off-the-shelf templates offer very little in terms of SEO optimization. Although you can tweak an existing website to optimize SEO capabilities, it’s best to build SEO components directly into the site’s architecture. Web agencies can implement positive SEO tactics such as relevant URLs, descriptive metadata, extensive site maps and optimized content, to help promote your website on search engines.
5) Projected Costs
While it’s true that templates initially provide a faster and cheaper way to launch your site than a custom solution, the total cost of operation for a template-based, off the shelf website can increase over time. Many template options require licensing and usage fees, and incorporating available plugins from your provider can also increase the total cost of ownership if each plugin is priced individually. Custom ecommerce sites come with a higher upfront cost, but those costs depreciate over time because there are typically no usage or licensing fees associated with development. This is particularly true when the provider turns over the source code and intellectual property at the end of the engagement. Unless you speak with an agency, it’s difficult to provide a development price: the cost to implement a custom ecommerce website is directly proportional to the scope of the project. Prices for development can range from $17 per hour to $100 per hour per developer. It’s important to look at the total costs for a template and custom development to be sure you have the full picture before deciding what’s right for your business.
What to expect with Custom development
The multifaceted nature of an ecommerce website makes it difficult to give a “typical” project timeline; this being said, you can expect customization to range from 4 months to a year depending on the size of the website and the depth of the customization. When you work with Chetu, we establish a timeline based on your needs. After a preliminary conversation with one of our experts, you will be assigned a technical Project Manager (PM) who will work with you to establish the complete project scope. Once all project components have been discussed and mapped out, your PM will provide a complete project plan which outlines the project by task name, start date of specific tasks, expected duration and date of completion. If the projected timeline seems lengthy, it’s easy to add a few developers and shave off some development time. Once the timeline has been established, you’ll have a better idea of the expected project cost. When labor has been explicitly mapped out, the total cost for custom ecommerce website development with Chetu will average $25 per hour per developer.
What to expect with Custom development
If you have a budget allocated for building your website, custom web development may be a better option than a template theme. Customization can provide your store with:
- UX and UI optimized for your industry
- Custom processes tailored to meet your shop’s specifications
- Integrations with current business software
- SEO built into the structure of your website
- Lower overall costs (in the long run, if you own your shop’s data)
If you’re still not quite sure if web development is the right solution for you, fill out this contact form and we’ll put you in touch with a company that matches your needs. From there you can speak with the agency to see if their services and expertise are right for you.
Chetu has been an Official PrestaShop Agency Partner since 2011. They understand that when it comes to technology solutions, one size does not fit all. Their tailor-made solutions are based on your organization's budget, specific needs, and requirements. Chetu will proactively suggest improvements and newer tools and technologies to reduce costs, and make development more efficient. Their solutions are catered for the long-term benefits of the customer, balancing the needs of individual organizations while keeping an eye on the budget. Chetu has worked with many online retailers’ to build websites to exact specifications like they have done for clients like Candy Bars Sydney.
Are you convinced that custom development is the better option for you? Learn more about Chetu by visiting their page. Looking for agencies located in your region? Check out our full list of certified Agencies.