The Internet has gotten a lot more complicated since I started building websites when I was 13 years old in my parents' house. There a lot more browsers, devices, frameworks and platforms. Front-end, back-end, React, Ruby, Python, UX/UI - it gets jargon-heavy real fast. So what and who do you need to get yourself a website?
Building a website is a bit like building a building. You could be building a shed in your backyard, which in that case, you can probably do it yourself with some YouTube help. A bit more complex would be building your dream 4 bedroom, 3 bathroom home. And then you have the more complex buildings - commercial buildings where there's a lot of logistics that you'll need to consider.
In a way, the UX/UI/web designer is a bit like the Architect/Interior designer. They'll generally lay out the blueprints for how your site will flow, and also help visualize how the final product will look like. Once that's all set up, they pass those blueprints on to the developers to execute.
As for full-stack developers, those are developers who are familiar with both front-end and back-end development. That being said, even full-stack developers have will generally have a preference or strength in one area or the other. Generally, you'll be able to find a full-stack developer easily (finding a good one is a different story!)
Once in a while, you might find that rare unicorn who can handle both design+front-end or design+full-stack. Those are a startup's dream and if you find a good one, they are worth their weight in gold.
If you have a budget that's under $10k to devote to your website and you're not looking to sell anything online, I recommend going with a service like Squarespace. Squarespace makes it easy to create beautiful-looking websites right out the box without coding knowledge with their drag-and-drop interface and pre-made templates you can customize. If you want something a bit more custom-looking, you can easily hire a graphic designer or a web designer to make your site look visually different.
If you are just starting an e-commerce and have less than $20k to invest in your website and you won't be able to afford hiring a web developer to maintain your website afterwards, I recommend starting with a pre-made template on Shopify or BigCommerce which generally runs about $0-200/template. These two platforms are subscription services that take care of the back-end so you'll only need to worry about the front-end, which a pre-made template can take care of to a certain extent. I would recommend also allocating some of that budget to hire a designer to help you with your branding, because in today's digital market, you'll need great branding to stand out.
With Shopify handling the backend, and a pre-made template handling front-end, this leaves you time and resources to focus on developing your business and dealing with product. While there are plenty of e-commerce platforms like WooCommerce for Wordpress or Magento that offer a lower cost up-front (they're free to download and set up on your own servers), the hidden costs associated with running a WooCommerce or Magento website ends up being significantly higher than if you'd gone with Shopify or BigCommerce in the first place.
Stick with Shopify or (Big Commerce), but invest in hiring a web designer and developer to build you a fully-branded, custom theme for your store. An experienced team will be able to build a website that requires little maintenance from a developer, meaning that you should be able to make most content updates by yourself, in the first few months after launch. That being said, as you start paid social media advertisement, you'll still need to find a designer and developer to help you make changes to your website at some point.
You probably already know who to hire! =) But in the case you don't, at the very least, you'll need to hire a web designer who can handle UX/UI design, a front-end developer and a back-end developer. If you're bootstrapped or if you get lucky, you'll be able to find a web designer and developer who can handle both design and front-end development and then only need to hire a back-end developer. Or you might hire a designer and a full-stack developer.
How do you find someone is a good fit in today's world? Here are some of my tips:
Building a website involves a lot of moving pieces as there are a lot of stakeholders involved. Stakeholders have to agree on the design, feature requests are added in last minute, and before you know it, a three month project will end up being a six month project.
Often times, I've heard clients who I've worked with mention that in the past their old developers always promised something within a timeframe and wasn't able to deliver. While it's hard to predict life's curveballs sometimes, a good team will be able to tell you upfront when the timelines are not reasonable and turning down a job when it's not within their capabilities to complete it on a desired date.
A website can be a little tricky for people to understand what's going on underneath the hood. Find someone who avoids jargon and does their best to help you understand what to expect throughout the process. If your point-of-contact seems to be vague, and isn't putting in the effort to give you the information you need, I would steer clear of them.
If you're hiring an agency, make sure they have examples or references of relevant work to base off of. If they don't, based on your budget and risk-tolerance, I would proceed with caution. If you're hiring in-house, make sure they have examples of work AND give them a case study to complete.
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