Potential Client FAQ
Deciding which developer to go to when building your eCommerce site can be a tough process. We’ve tried to make your job a little easier by compiling the answers to some of our most frequently asked questions.
General Development Questions
Q: Are your developers in-house or do you subcontract work?
A: Unfortunately, we are aware that there are many firms out there that are not honest about the fact that they do not do any of the work themselves, but rather subcontract or outsource to India or China. You are certainly right to be cautious about that, because we firmly believe that when not properly managed, subcontracting development work can result in a project nightmare.
That’s not the case at Creatuity; in fact, Honesty and Integrity is one of our company’s Core Values that guides our entire business everyday. Rest assured, all of our developers are in-house. That means they all work in a Creatuity office during typical business hours. They are led by experienced team leaders and are all specially trained on our own high coding standards. Simply put, we hire the best. We have a great company atmosphere and work hard to keep our team happy, which results in the best possible quality work for your business. Happy, smart, honest developers – that’s what you’ll find here at Creatuity!
And just in case you were wondering, all of our customer service team members and project managers are in-house too. We’ve assembled a great team to help ensure that your project is very successful.
Q: Who decides which developer is assigned a project?
A: Depending on the task, we will take care of assigning the best developer for the job. Some of our developers are better at front-end design implementation, while others are highly experienced with database projects. We’ll divide up the work accordingly based on experience, training, and of course availability to meet your deadline. We always ensure that the best person for the task is assigned.
Q: Do you work on my live website? How do you prevent downtime?
A: The first step in every project is to create a development copy of your website. This is a “copy” of your live website and is where we will do our development work. Then, once we’re ready, we’ll ask you to test everything on this site. Only after you have reviewed and tested this site will we deploy to your live website upon your approval.
We do take several steps to prevent downtime, including thoroughly testing (and asking you to test) before deploying changes to your live website. We understand that downtime could mean lost revenue, and we take it very seriously.
There are some situations where a little downtime is simply unavoidable (like when we’re doing a Magento upgrade). However, we’ll always make you aware of this ahead of time and do our best to accommodate a time when your site sees the least traffic.
Creatuity also has some common sense policies in place to ensure that deployment goes well. Shockingly, these things aren’t always common practice at other firms! Here are just a few:
- We deploy during business hours, so that if something goes wrong, you have a whole team of developers (and supervisors) available to correct the problem.
- We don’t “deploy and leave.” This means we don’t deploy something at 5 PM on Friday, then head out the door for the weekend and leave you with a broken site for several days.
- Only authorized, experienced developers are allowed to deploy live sites. We love our interns, but we don’t trust them that much!
- We have a rigorous Quality Assurance process that helps to identify problems (or simply typos) so that none of these reach your live site.
Q: Do you provide ongoing support for my website?
A: We are happy to provide ongoing support and maintenance for your website. With any site, there are always small tweaks and updates that you want to make from time to time. While many firms require a monthly support contract with minimum hours or a long-term commitment, our simple hourly pricing structure makes us easy and flexible to work with. Our contracts state that we are going to work hourly on an as-needed, as-requested basis. That means that one month you could ask us to do one small task, the next month ask us to do 20 tasks, and the next not need any tasks completed at all. We only bill for the time we spend, so if you have a slow period in which you don’t contact us about anything, then there’s not a charge. It’s a great arrangement that allows you to keep your site up-to-date without breaking your budget.
If you’re in need of a dedicated developer (for larger websites), we offer that level of support service as well. It’s certainly not required, but if you’re an Enterprise level site then it can be very beneficial to know that you have an expert dedicated to your project 40 hours a week. It’s like hiring an in-house employee, without the expense or increased responsibility that come with adding another employee to your payroll. Let us take care of the employment taxes, health insurance, and management responsibilities…You focus on growing your business!
Q: If Creatuity creates my website, who is the owner?
A: Ensuring that you have a contract that specifies ownership is important. Our contract addresses this subject in more detail, so do read that carefully. In summary, as long as we are paid in full (i.e.: your account is in good standing), then you are the owner. The only things we cannot grant ownership to are open-source code or other code that we do not own (and thus cannot give to you). The Yii framework, WordPress, Magento, extensions, and plugins are all good examples of such code that we (and you) are allowed to use under specific licensing agreements such as GPL or BSD.
Q: What do I need to get started with Creatuity?
A: We’re excited that you want to start working with us! Please email or call us to be put in touch with a New Client Specialist. We’ll gather a little information to make sure that we’re a good fit for your project and answer any questions that you may have. Then, we’ll send over a contract for you to review. Once you are ready, you’ll accept the contract and electronically sign it. There’s no paper involved, and it’s a super easy process. Once we have a signed contract in place, you’ll be assigned to an Account Manager or Project Manager who will handle getting your credentials and list of tasks.
Q: What kind of quality can I expect from Creatuity?
A: We have developed our own set of high coding standards here at Creatuity, which produces clean, reliable, and efficient code that you can count on. We also have a rigorous Quality Assurance (QA) process. Our QA engineers review each line of code to ensure that it meets our standards, as well as check for potential bugs, typos, and other errors. Lastly, by working on a development website, we reduce the possibility of problems ever reaching your live website.
And if you’re concerned about security standards, you’ve come to the right place. Since we specialize in eCommerce, we take security very seriously. All of our developers are trained on PCI Compliance regulations and adhere to strict security standards when it comes to encrypting credit cards and other personal information on your site.
Q: How do I communicate with Creatuity?
A: Our customer service team is available Monday through Friday, 8AM-6PM, CST. You can call our Dallas, TX office at 214.810.5005, or contact us using Mavenlink (our project collaboration system). Our team works hard to answer inquiries the very same day they are received. And we do prioritize truly urgent situations (i.e.: site is down, checkout isn’t working, etc.) to ensure that you receive a quick resolution to those serious situations. While we cannot offer or guarantee 24/7 support, we always do our best to handle emergency situations that come up after business hours or on a weekend/holiday. We truly want to see your business grow, and we view ourselves as part of your team!
Q: How much does it cost to create a new Magento store website?
A: The cost of building a new Magento store does vary greatly and depends on your answers to the following questions:
- For the frontend design, will you be using a template or creating a completely custom design? If using a template, what kinds of modifications are you going to want? If it’s a custom design, will you be giving us the finished PSD files, or do you want our designer to create them?
- What payment methods do you plan to offer?
- What shipping methods will you offer and how should the pricing work? (For information on payment & shipping methods offered in Magento, feel free to watch our short informational video here!)
- Do you want any additional extensions installed?
- Are there any integrations with Magento that your business requires? I.e.: Order management/fulfillment software, billing systems (Quickbooks, etc.), ERP systems, email marketing programs (Mailchimp, etc.), or any other separate system that Magento must work with.
- Do you want multi-store functionality? This is a feature in Magento that allows you to run several different websites on the same backend.
- Are there any other modifications to the Magento core functionality that you are going to require?
Some examples of customizations that customers have requested in the past include: live preview of personalized/customizable products, automatic subscription for products, saving quotes/estimates (included in Enterprise edition but not in Community), additional fields added to the checkout or account creating process, trigger email campaigns for abandoned carts and other situations, separate login/pricing for wholesale customers, call for quote pricing only, custom forms and contact pages. The sky is the limit…and your budget of course!
We’ve had Magento new builds take anywhere from 15-500 hours, so you can see that the answers to these questions do make a big difference.
Q: What are some recommendations for cutting down the expense of a new Magento site?
A: If you want to create a simple Magento store with the least expense, we make these recommendations:
- Use a pre-built template/theme for your design. Ensure that it is compatible with the current version of Magento, as editing it to make it compatible does add expense.
- Offer PayPal and/or Authorize.net (for processing credit cards) as your payment methods. Other easy methods are Money Order and MoneyBookers. Integrating with other payment gateways can be more time consuming and may not be as well-tested, thus requiring more bug fixes.
- Offer flat-rate shipping based on a simple calculation like package weight, order value, or just a flat charge. The UPS API integration is also fairly simple to configure and would charge the customer rates according to your UPS account, weight, and destination.
- Obviously importing data takes time. Sometimes if you have few products, it’s not worthwhile. While it can be done, it is more expensive to import customers and order history. A vast majority of clients do not do this because it is expensive and not always reliable.
- Extension installations typically only take a couple of hours. If there’s an extension that you think would get you at least close to the functionality you are envisioning, give that a shot to see if it will work for your needs. We can also modify extensions (if they are open source and the author allows it).
- Custom functionality is awesome, but it can get expensive. We always recommend an existing extension if there’s one that will get you close to what you need, unless we’ve just had a horrible experience with that particular extension for some reason.
We are here to guide and help you with these decisions, so be honest about the exact goal you are trying to achieve and allow us to help you find a good solution. Sometimes when you weigh the expense with how much money/time it will save/make you, then it’s completely worth the investment. Other times, we might need to help you come up with an alternative plan or put off that feature for a later date when your store is generating more revenue. Remember, we’d much rather see you go “live” with a fully functional 1.0 version of the site then run out of funds halfway through. We truly view ourselves as a “partner” and want to help your business grow!
Billing & Contracts
Q: Can you give me an estimate of how many hours my project will take?
A: In some cases, if we’ve completed an identical task before on a very similar site, our New Client specialists are able to give you a “rough ballpark estimate” based on historical information from a previous project. Keep in mind that every site is different, so, especially if we are working on a site we’ve never worked on before, it is virtually impossible for us to predict what kinds of problems we could run into. These kinds of estimates are good to have so that you know if the idea you have is going to be a worthwhile investment for your business or not (i.e.: Am I even in the ballgame? Does my budget for this project come close?). But, you should definitely keep in mind that the “real” estimate isn’t going to take place until one of our developers begins the task.
If the task hasn’t been done before (i.e.: this is completely custom to your needs or just needs a new/unique idea), then of course there’s no way for us to provide an estimate up front. While some less reputable firms will just make up a low number to try to win your business, here at Creatuity we’d much rather be honest with you by saying, “We don’t know. It’s going to require a developer digging much deeper into your site and requirements before we can tell you anything remotely accurate.” After all, what’s the point of an estimate if its not remotely accurate?
Q: When will I get my estimate, then?
A: Once we have a signed contract in place, we will assign your task(s) to a developer to begin preparing the plan, and, along with that, he will prepare an estimate. This is going to require reviewing your existing code, preparing technical specs/requirements, and possibly researching some things. Accordingly, this time is billable. We do assure you that none of this time is wasted, however, as the plan has to be in place before we begin the project. And, if you don’t like the estimate that we develop, we are happy to work with you to modify/remove features to possibly make the project more affordable. Of course, if you decide just not to pursue the project, you would only have to pay for the time that we’ve already spent. It’s really a win-win situation: you get a very accurate estimate, and we start out with a solid plan that meets your exact needs.
Q: Do you have a minimum requirement?
A: We bill everything hourly at the hourly rate in your contract. There is no minimum required number of hours or dollar amount. You are only billed for the actual time that our team spends working on your project. This does include Project Management time, so be sure to include that in your budgeting.
Creatuity is very unique in this practice. Many competing development firms require a minimum number of hours per month or a large, up-front cost to begin your project. Because of our unique processes, we are able to take on a variety of project sizes, as well as general support agreements for existing websites that only need occasional fixes and new features.
Q: What about a maximum requirement? Do you offer full-time development services?
A: If you have a very large project or website and need a full-time dedicated developer (i.e.: at least 40 hours/week), we do recommend a Retainer agreement with us to ensure that you have a single dedicated resource (or two, or more) to handle your needs most efficiently. This is certainly not required, though it does tend to work well for Enterprise level sites that need long-standing assistance from a developer on a daily basis.
Q: Is pre-payment required to start work?
A: We are aware that many firms require a large up-front payment to commence work. However, this is not how we prefer to work. Creatuity bills hourly for all the time we spend on your project. You receive invoices each Monday for the previous week of work. Each invoice is due within 7 days, and we have a convenient online payment system to make payment quick and easy. This is a much more friendly payment policy for small-to-midsize businesses, and it breaks payment for large projects into smaller, more manageable payments.
Unless you are purchasing a package, requesting urgent fixes to a live site, or we’re unable to extend terms to you, we do not require a pre-payment at this time.
We do require that all invoices be paid before we can push code to your live website.
Q: Why doesn’t the proposal you sent break down my project in more detail?
A: All of our proposals are fairly generic. A proposal states that we are going to work on an hourly, as-needed, as-requested basis, so there is no reference to any hours. This allows for our agile development process, and it also allows you to change your requirements or assign as much or little of the project to us as you wish without having to sign change orders and create a whole new contract. Our proposal is also set up this way so that, after launch, we can provide new features, enhancements, and other general support as much as you need without a new contract being required for a one-year time period.