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Any user or end customer looking for a developer for your website based on OpenCart, will find hundreds of people offering services and self-proclaiming the “best” OpenCart developers on the market. Among them, it will be easy to find portfolios of websites that can visually impact their design, or even the functionalities, and yet this will not guarantee that the developer is a professional in this area, while it is common to find quality developers questionable that they have created sites using templates and plugin, without knowing how to optimize them, or without knowing how to carry with them a scalable and maintainable development cycle in the medium and long term. For those reasons we have written this article, to help neophytes how to identify a great OpenCart developer. Comments and constructive arguments are welcome in this post, because it probably bothers some "professionals."
OpenCart is one of the most popular CMS`s in the world for e-commerce and under which an important share of the e-commerce websites that you can find on the internet have been developed, therefore it is a labor market to consider for any professional dedicated to web design, web development, maintenance of systems and servers, online marketing professionals and SEO, among other professions or roles that exist associated with the administration of OpenCart sites and probably many of these professionals are able to create a website based on OpenCart, but that does not mean that they can be considered "OpenCart developers."
Many of those who have proclaimed themselves "experts" in OpenCart are not able to create an extension, layout a custom design from a design in PSD or other format, and even and unfortunately, some are not even able to properly follow the guidelines of OpenCart development when creating a site using a commercial template. This leads to a series of problems for end customers, and among them we often find scenarios such as:
The following provides guidance on how a good OpenCart developer should be, from a technical point of view, but you will also find some considerations to take into account from the point of view of a service provider and even personal considerations.
In addition to the above, an OpenCart developer perfectly understands the architecture of the site based on Model - View - Controller - Language (MVC-L) and has an impeccable handling of the techniques and conventions necessary to make modifications to the core, and in templates or extensions developed by third parties, without overwriting them directly. The latter can only be achieved through the modification mechanisms that are used in OpenCart, such as OCMOD modules, formerly called vQmod, or the event system. We must say, this knowledge is difficult to acquire given the scarce documentation that has been developed and published on this subject and yet they are essential to get a clean and maintenance cycle in an OpenCart-based application.
Having experience in OpenCart is very important. We have already said that the documentation for OpenCart developers is scarce and limited and there is no considerable literature about this. So the experience of developer in OpenCart is directly related to his degree of experience and perseverance working in this CMS. Consequently, an OpenCart developer must be in a position to demonstrate the skills acquired in the sites he has programmed and in the projects in which he has participated. This demonstration, as I said earlier, has to go beyond showing an acceptable design. You should be able to justify what you have done within the projects specifically, such as, for example, layout from a design PSD file to an OpenCart site, development an extension with X functionality, integration of a CRM or ERP, etc. All this must also have been done with an impeccable, secure code, and attached to the OpenCart development guidelines.
OpenCart is a live application, which is kept under constant changes and minor and big bug fixes (that is why literally every day there are changes in its core), and is under an eternal cycle of updates and maintenance. This also impacts the plugins and templates whose developers must be able to follow the path to the core, adjusting to their changes and improving their functionalities.
That is why we must understand that for a user - client without knowledge, hiring the development of a maintenance-free OpenCart site implies a high risk of loss of money and resources that have been invested during the development of the project and consequently a good OpenCart developer It must be able and available to offer support and maintenance services in the short, medium and long term, precisely because it understands and recognizes that the life of a project is based on a correct maintenance cycle. For this reason, it has also maintained a strict adherence to the development guidelines during the programming of the website and its functionalities, templates and plugins, since this depends on updating the OpenCart core, its plugins and templates to be something viable and not involve errors, loss of functionality and more importantly, sales.
Maintaining contact with the community is natural for an OpenCart developer. The form of contact can vary greatly from one to another, but it is indispensable. Follow the relevant people in the community and whose decisions have an impact on the direction taken by the core, belong and participate in the official OpenCart communication channels, participate and be attentive to the information that emerges day by day in the forums and official blogs, as well as in the Slack rooms, official and unofficial newsletters, subscription to blogs, etc. All of the above have as common forms that keep the good professional updated about what have been the latest vulnerabilities found, the functions that have been added to the core, or depreciated from it and, in summary, allow you to stay informed about the “day by day” in this world. OpenCart, despite being a globally used solution, has a fairly integrated community and members who are able to recognize each other.
A good developer has faced endless situations and many of them are familiar and repetitive. Install SSL certificates and make them work in an OpenCart store, management of abandoned carts, email marketing campaigns, schedule a new popup to promote a product, manage newsletter subscriptions, customize forms, are common tasks and a good developer must have controlled. Therefore, a good OpenCart developer is able to provide a quick and easy response and guidance for most of the requirements that are usually presented throughout a project. He knows how to estimate development times with relative precision, offer explanations of pros and cons, notice problems and explain them in a language without technicalities, or with them, in order to approach his objective.
Any experienced OpenCart developer has a portfolio of experiences that he can show to his potential clients. We would, however, say that some experience, technical knowledge and knowledge of the history of each item in the portfolio is required, to assess this in fair measure.
Each element of a portfolio can be characteristic of the professional who holds it, or the result of a collective work (working with a multidisciplinary team and third parties). They can also carry your signature or that of a company for which you have worked. Sometimes an element of the portfolio may lose value, while content managers may have used the tool outside the intended use initially. (For example, a website where content publishers have used bad photos or have entered texts improperly, and therefore generate an inappropriate result). In other cases, a project can have a positive and impactful appearance, and yet not be the result of the intervention made by the developer, but of the application of templates and plugins without its intervention. A job that has its merit but does not necessarily mean a versatile developer.
We consider the availability of a developer as something essential when selecting it for a specific project. A good developer, not only of OpenCart, but in general a good service provider, is someone who is available under certain standards that are previously agreed upon. Therefore, working with a good OpenCart developer, which is not available, or delays responses with times beyond expectations, creates problems for a project.
While SEO can be considered a discipline and knowledge that is desirable in a developer, but not necessary, in practice and in today's world, it is necessary for an OpenCart developer to execute the interventions without losing sight of key elements of SEO. The correct labeling, loading times, application performance are elements that affect the return on investment of a project. Consequently, it is desirable that you have the minimum knowledge necessary for any intervention by a developer.
Ecommerce is today a multidisciplinary professional area, which includes knowledge of the product and competition, knowledge of digital marketing, SEO, SEM, CRM`s management, and many other areas. Therefore it is desirable that a good OpenCart developer has experience managing more than just programming a website. His experience should encompass notions and knowledge related to electronic commerce.
Complementary to the previous point, a good OpenCart developer not only has general knowledge of ecommerce, but also knows how to adapt to the needs of the markets where the products are or will be offered. Meet the audience and their habits or have ways to inquire into this. He also knows the right partners to manage payment and shipping gateways and has experience in integrating the application with them. Know the languages spoken by the audience, the currency used, etc.
It is of little use for a professional to create new custom functionalities, create or modify extensions or create a new template, if the developer is not able to offer the final client adequate documentation or training so that the people involved in the project can manage properly these tools, or that in his absence, the necessary information is available for a new developer to resume work, just at the point where it was left.
Finally, we consider that a good OpenCart developer maintains a positive attitude towards any eventuality that may arise in a project. Apart from the fact that this may entail changes in the budget that must be well justified before the client, a good OpenCart developer is able to solve the incidents that occur in an entertaining way, without losing the good treatment towards the client. This is mainly because he feels passion for the technologies he uses, he always looks for the best possible result and excellence. Programming is not just a profession, it is a job that must be done with passion. Talking about a technical issue is a pleasure for a good developer. Learning new technologies or the latest market trends is not an imposition, but a need built into your personality. It is for all this that a good OpenCart developer will know how to assist you with a smile and deal with technical difficulties without losing the patience necessary to solve them.