Magento in unskilled hands

Things you should really know before letting someone loose on your Magento site

This warning is for laymen Magento operators and Developers with little experience using Magento.

Magento is a complicated piece of software. Far more complicated than Wordpress or most of the other eCommerce platforms out there. The difference between an experienced developer and a novice is massive.

Where with Wordpress or a similar CMS based system you can wing your way through setup and modification. This is almost impossible with Magento. You need to have a very strong grasp on php and how zend framework is managed just to install a theme in most cases.

The basics

A good developer can setup the Owners Admin area so it is much easier to manage for a new site owner and less likely that disaster can happen, with an inadvertent save.

A novice developer will give the sites new owner access to everything. Inviting disaster, there is no need for a new site owners to have access to APis, Developer toggles or anything more than basic CMS, product and sales controls. Apart from the risk of accidental setting changes. It can also be totally overwelhming for a new site owner to log in and see 500+ tabs and settings all in one place.

No one benefits from an overly complicated owners admin panel.

S/He has made all these other great sites

Famous last words before your new developer who has never worked on Magento destroys your website. The number of times someone has called in tears or a panic because their new guy just wiped out their front page or checkout are untold.

Your average magento store can be 40,000+ files all stored in their own folders sometimes 15 folders deep. Every file is interwinded and does its own little task. Changing one can have a ripple effect through everything. If you don't know what your doing its so easy to change just one little css bit of code and completely destroy the rest of the site without knowing it.

The only way to really learn how to work with magento in an advanced fashion is to learn while work along side some with a lot of experience on the job with Magento

Certified Magento doesn't mean qualified

On three separate occasions now I have hired 'Gold Certified Magento' developers only to quickly find they are way out of there depth doing what we do here. I do understand some of stuff is way out there. But the three Certified Magento developers we hired were only doing basic theme'ing on the front end when they imploded.

What this enforces is the need for experience on the job on a daily basis working with Magento. Passing a Magento certification requires learning the answers to the test, not necessarily how to use Magento in a developer fashion. I'm not saying the Magento Certificate is worthless, but if it is not backed up with a fat portfolio of custom Magento work you probably aren't hiring who you think you are.

Much the same as trades people have a standard for being a Master Builder or Plumber for having so many hours on the job. You should look for the equivlient in your developer (though 5 years is almost a veteran in developer years if they have been working in a company, not freelancing). There is something to be said for on the job experience.

Beware the template portfolio

You hired your new developer on the basis of his/her portfolio. Its full of lots of nice looking sites. After a few days the skill set doesn't seem to match the portfolio. Each request is taking a long time with lots of frantic Googling. When each task is done, its not quite right or fully finished. Its built within the limits of what is already setup...almost like a basic modification of what was there rather than the new thing of what you wanted.

You just hired an advanced cake decorator!

Often these people have actually talked themselves into believing they actually know what they are doing. After all look at all the shiny sites they bought off themeforest. However just like the less skilled Wordpress cake decorator these people are not up to the task of website development.

Some will call themselves frontend developers, but really they are not even that. This person should only be in charge of CMS items and no more.


Would you give your house keys, bank account details to a stranger, of course you wouldn't! So why do it with your website. If you have an online store or eCommerce solution you will have banking details and all sorts in there. If you have a larger company, it maybe mere childs play for your developer to send fake orders through to dispatch and make all traces disappear. Even worse lets say they replace your bank account details for theres. With some of our clients in just a few ours this could amount to tens of thousands of dollars or more of stolen funds.

Vett your developers like you were handing over your PIN number and Credit Card to them, because you basically are.

Here is an even worse prospect. Your new developer leaves a massive hole for every hacker under the sun to come through.

Oops sorry about that

Letting some one work on your live Magento store can cost you financial also. All you need is some to make a little mistake with pricing or shipping and it can literally cost you thousands or more.

Just a few years back in New Zealand Dicksmith accidentally released a new product for much less than its actually price. In fact Dicksmith is even a little famous for these types of mistakes now, but they are not the only ones

Last thing you want is this happening to you.

Final thoughts

Check your developers portfolio thoroughly! Physically check their skill set. Manage your risk to begin with before handing over the keys to the kingdom. Having a Magento certified developer can be a good start, but experience in running Magento day to day trumps a piece of paper. Most importantly if its not smelling right, act fast.

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Senior Developer at Mebsites on the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia. Mebsites is an acclaimed Magento and Custom Framework Web Software coding house.
Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia Website