Establishing an eCommerce website can be a huge milestone for your company. Planning your project properly is a key factor in setting up your successful eCommerce website. Every little factor matters and can save up your time and money. Due to that, carefully prepared web development requirements are necessary before launching the project of your dreamed eCommerce business. The more information is known before the start of a project, the better.
The aim of this article is to describe the process of eCommerce project planning and everything that revolves around it, including why gathering requirements is so important, the role of designing, what information is crucial before the start of the project, and more.
Let’s begin with the topic of gathering requirements for an online store…
Why is it worth gathering requirements before the eCommerce development process?
The time spent on planning translates into the time saved on the project’s realization. The more precise project’s description, the better effect can be achieved while saving time and money.
It can be compared to a design of an apartment; more details known before the work helps to get the work done more smoothly and trouble-free, for example, measuring areas for windows or electric sockets. Every little detail matters. The fewer project development details are known, the more time is consumed for estimations to propose particular solutions.
Due to that, sometimes, the final version of an eCommerce project plan may not be a solution that the client actually needs. Sometimes, clients come up with numerous requirements, and at the end, it turns out that the MVP (Minimum Viable Product) version of a project is sufficient and satisfactory to them.
In such a case, the client can start earning money and then gradually develop his/her online store. Also, customers often want certain eCommerce website features or designs because they saw a similar eCommerce site. However, it may turn out that these features or designs on their online store will not be as effective as they thought.
Additionally, when clients have some experience and are able to list their requirements and priorities, it is possible to apply the MoSCoW method. Pre-launch requirements help trim the project scope to such a level that it is sufficient for future users and not necessarily time-consuming and expensive.
Planning resources for eCommerce website development
Creating a list of requirements helps to estimate the budget, the number of developers needed for a task, and the possible risks in eCommerce web development. Knowing that it is only necessary to establish a landing page for a small business gives the information that only one person could be required for a task. On the other hand, knowing that we have a big project of an eCommerce website, we can plan the developer’s team accordingly while considering their time availability.
Getting familiar with particular criteria for an eCommerce website development project helps estimate how many people would be needed, which translates into what budget would be needed for the project’s realization. The more the web development company knows, the better it is able to estimate the budget. The less they know, the more risks they have to take into account and the more risky and time-consuming scenario has to be considered.
When a client does not specify his/her needs, developers should prepare several versions of an eCommerce website project plan from which the client will choose the one that suits him best. It is also worth discussing the project’s architecture based on the initial requirements, especially in the case of larger projects/eCommerce websites. Knowing the requirements, the web development company can provide the client with a schedule, budget, roadmap, and other elements to help plan further actions. In the end, when the budget and deadline are estimated, it is possible to plan the scope of a project well.
To sum up, the more information about eCommerce website agencies get, the smoother the task becomes.
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What about eCommerce website design?
The first impression matters. Design is not only how things look but, most also, how they affect the customer’s experience and behavior. Having a functional, visually appealing eCommerce website or an app encourages customers to choose your services and products.
Even a memorable logo on your eCommerce site can change much. Prior to development, the design enables the testing and verification of concepts, as well as the visualization of complicated interactions (such as product configurations), resulting in saving time and money. It is worth considering hiring a team with a designer, as close work between a designer and the developers helps to get the best results.
Such team constantly share knowledge and experiences, keeping team members synchronized and informed about the project status, which, in turn, helps in eCommerce web development.
What exactly does the designer do?
To put it simply – he visualizes and takes care of aesthetics and a unique final look of the eCommerce website and:
- Helps to understand the audience/customers’ point of view (which helps to choose the best eCommerce solutions)
- Makes suggestions and verifies ideas based on experience in the industry (especially important with custom eCommerce website development)
- Translates complex problems into easy-to-use and visually appealing interfaces
- Guides the design process, shares their expertise, knowledge, experience
- Supports front-end developers, discusses ideas and implementation matters
Professional design on the eCommerce platform suited for your audience builds their trust in your products and services. Moreover, the provided style guide helps keep the eCommerce website consistent and intuitive for the customers. Moreover, it comes in handy while maintaining styles, making changes, and expanding the online business in the future.
eCommerce business – what information is worth gathering before the project’s workshops
One of the most important things is expectations from the store. Knowing your shoppers well gives crucial information about the project, whether, for instance, customers value design and need various tools to be guided through the store, or maybe they value functionality and simplicity.
The best way to prepare for the project is to create a User Story. In such a document, the person who wants to establish an eCommerce platform describes what the end user or a customer would expect from a platform and what elements should be included. Although it is just an informal and general explanation, it gives a lot of information to the developers. If the client already has some experience in project’s realization, a user story can be created at the very beginning. If not, it is usually written after the first workshops when the clients learn how to do it properly.
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Here is the list of some of the answers that should be answered before the launch of the project:
- What are the main business goals of the project?
- Is it a migration from an existing website or a completely new one?
- B2B or B2C?
- Will it be a standard eCommerce platform or a Multi-Vendor Marketplace?
- What type of products would be sold?
- What integrations would be needed (e.g. CRM, PIM)?
- What budget does the client have?
- What is the deadline for MVP (Minimum Viable Product)?
These are general questions that should be expanded on a case-by-case basis. Naturally, it is also worth doing a list of requirements that were previously mentioned and/or modified. What is also worth considering when doing it is if the company needs robust content management systems, want to focus on digital marketing and search engine optimization, or wants to focus on mobile devices – all these aspects may influence the choice of the final eCommerce platforms.
Conducting projects in BitBag
eCommerce website development services are our main line of business. We had built a team of experienced eCommerce developers to help our clients develop a successful eCommerce website. We will briefly describe our process of eCommerce web development.
First, we gather documentation for a project which we receive from a client and then analyze it. The more information documentation covers, the better.
The process of creating documentation is iterative and follows the following pattern:
- Analysis of the documentation provided by the client
- Meeting with a client to clarify requirements
- Solutions/eCommerce platforms proposals
After completing the documentation, we prepare the Scope of Work (SOW) – technical documentation of what has to be done. Similarly to the documentation, the Scope of Work should be as coherent and clear as possible. The person responsible for creating SOW is Project Manager (PM), and the file is created based on the aforementioned documentation. It will be used by developers, project managers, client, and testers. Along with Scope of Work, workshops are also held in order to make all the information consistent among team members so that everyone has the same level of knowledge.
Based on the estimations and priorities given by the client and feedback from the entire development team, a roadmap for an online business project/eCommerce web development is created.
The roadmap is basically a calendar where the steps of product realization are described and spread over time in terms of priorities, team availability, and various dependencies, e.g., feature two cannot be done until feature one is completed. Thanks to the roadmap, we know how many people will be needed for a project and how to plan work on specific tasks over time. It can serve us as a global scope of our project. The roadmap is never an exact reflection of how things should go but how we see the work should go to achieve the best outcome. Breaking down the project in a roadmap into smaller segments shows the client how much work there is to do and how much time it will consume.
The key thing is that before the development process starts and before the coding itself, we try to have the tasks specified and estimated for at least the next two weeks. And then, during the sprint, we held further meetings with a client to specify details. Working this way gives the client time to clarify the requirements on their side.
The experience of the developers influences a more accurate estimation of the project and the time in which the project will be completed. There is a chance to estimate the entire project, provided the client delivers to us with unalterable, closed, and complete documentation.
To conclude, working on the development of eCommerce websites is based on the following particular steps:
Gathering requirements→Planning→Implementation→Monitoring and control→Closing
Examples of project management software
To manage eCommerce web development efficiently, different programs are used. Here are examples of the most popular ones.
Starting with Jira, as this is the software we are using while working on eCommerce projects in BitBag. It is a well-known software dedicated to project management for all kinds of teams. Jira contains many features designed to describe tasks and create product backlogs. Such tools are great for working on software development and bug management issues. Moreover, Jira integrates with other software tools like Confluence and code repositories, e.g., GitHub. Jira is valued for its simplicity and the design that makes teamwork a lot easier.
This software is a collaboration tool for project realization using Kanban boards. Trello has a very intuitive interface and provides an easy way to view all completed, in progress, and scheduled tasks. Such an approach allows tracking the progress of your project from one place and doesn’t require any experience to be effectively customized and used for the development process.
Asana is one of the most complex task management softwares. Its features include a task list, schedules, and boards – all supported by tools that manage resources and track expenses. Despite its many functionalities, Asana is easy to use. Its mobile application and many integrations, including code repositories, make it one of the best solutions for working on bigger developer projects.
The first step to a good approach to eCommerce website development is identifying needs. After gathering all the important information, the next step is looking for agencies specializing in eCommerce development services. After the web development agency is found, a client shares all the information about the project with the agency representative and discusses details and concerns. Next, the scope of work is planned, and based on the communication, expectations, and estimations, both sides may decide about working together (or not).
Whether you already have your own website, want to set up a new eCommerce website or just looking for advice, the best way to dispel your doubts will be a conversation. Send us your idea via the contact page, and we will get back to you shortly.