Bespoke Isn’t Better in eCommerce Development

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

In a world of “handmade is cool”, it is easy to get caught up in the lure of “custom is better”. Who doesn’t want to be the guy in the office with the prestigious handcrafted eyewear? After all, someone consulted with him on his personal style and tastes, and spent 22 hours carving out the most delicious and unique pair of glasses that anyone has ever seen. They even have his name delicately engraved on the inside, so that everyone knows they are his. They become his personal brand, because they speak specifically and uniquely to him.

We all know that branding is everything. It is what sets us apart, is eye catching and memorable. The uniqueness of our brands is what is compelling, just like those glasses. But, does that same custom process apply to eCommerce websites?

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Custom eCommerce Design

Let’s talk definitions here. When I say, custom design, what comes to mind?

  • snazzy graphic design (Photoshop files)
  • clear and concise visitor flow (site architecture)
  • website functionality designed for the user (coding)
  • knockout messaging, calls to action, funnels (marketing)

That wasn’t a trick question. All of those are important, right? You are making a big investment in your website. It should end up being a ka’ching machine.

As you interview prospective development companies, you will often hear one of the above points being pushed harder than the others. It seems that many companies, like people, have their own slant on what makes an eCommerce site great.

More importantly, though, is HOW they achieve greatness for you. While your site should appeal stylistically to your audience, and should move people through your funnel, and offer those convincing calls to action, it all really comes down to the WAY the site is built.

Why? Because once the site is finished and launched, the SAAS eCommerce software is going to do the heavy lifting.

  • It is what will, or will not, allow you to start small and grow bigger, or go enterprise.
  • It is the foundation upon which all the functionality you will ever need, needs to sit.

3 Steps to Achieve Greatness with Your Next eCommerce Site

  1. Always, always start with an extensible SAAS eCommerce platform that will sustain your company’s growth.
  2. Always, always install an existing framework developed for that platform.
  3. Choose an eCommerce developer that works in an agile environment.

So here, we are getting into what the development process should look like.

If you have been a site owner since before mobile devices and responsive design, you may be used to a different kind of development environment. Typically:

  • the website design team worked for the client
  • it started with a Photoshop mockup of every page (often using Latin filler for content)
  • coding (development) was based on design, rather than functionality
  •  there was little agility in making changes on the fly

This was stock and trade in the website design world for over a decade, and you will still find companies that work this way, as they have not yet completely updated their workflow to the new industry standard of agile development.

This shift is a win-win for everyone.

Agile developers work WITH you, not FOR you. Your input is critical for the outcome.

Seeing is understanding. Seeing development in stages, allows more ideas to flow, making the final product really strong and functional.

Get the Best Outcome Without All of the Headaches

Custom website design is so alluring. It sounds like it is catering just to you and your organization. What could be better? But…custom means custom for life.

Avoid the More Time / More Money Trap

  • Extra Upfront Costs. When you use an existing framework as your design foundation, it can save 40-60% in brute development time, allowing you to build in more conversion optimization initially, and marketing after the launch.
  • Extra Ongoing Costs. At no point do you get to hire more affordable developers for maintenance, because they are not up to speed on the customizations.
  • Custom means non-standard. That often means that a new functionality coded in, is not easily compatible with the other custom coding. Making growing with your company very expensive and time consuming.
  • Updating is hard, expensive, or impossible. Keeping your software up to date is crucial for e-commerce sites. Being able to stream new functionality without it breaking the custom code is how your site will maintain its competitive edge. When updating breaks the site, companies stop updating, and all that customization becomes synonymous with “the dark ages”. With the passage of the GDPR, it has become even more important that site owners keep their software updated at all times.

In Conclusion

Considering a change in partnership for your next eCommerce build?

We like to build relationships and websites with agility. And when it comes to shopping carts, we like to have fun creating new intuitive ways to add customer-friendly functionality that will blow your customer’s socks off and make them brand fans. What do you say?

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