What makes a top-notch Magento Developer?
What do you need to know in order to be able to call yourself a top Magento developer? Is it enough to pass the exam, to obtain the Magento certification? What kind of experience and routine do you need to have?
If a company would like to have a Magento based ecommerce store, it hires a specialized developer or a developer company for the job. Magento is a complex, powerful and reliable system, and in order for someone to be able to handle it with competence, they need to have expertise in several areas.
It’s also a question what the difference is between the freelance developers and the ones working in teams. When is it useful for a company to hire a freelancer and when is it worth hiring a specialized development company for a job?
We are going to provide answers to all those questions in this article. If you are interested in how you can become a professional Magento developer, here you will find out what you will have to learn. And if you are looking for a developer for your business, we will give you useful hints on what you have to keep in mind in order to find the ideal person.
We are going to cover the following:
- What kind of previous experience does a Magento developer need to have?
- Which programming languages does he/she have to master?
- What does the Magento Certified exam really provide?
- Freelancer or expert team?
- What is expected from a team member?
- What kind of an expert is a good developer?
- How can you select the ideal Magento freelancer?
- What’s a good Magento developer like?
What kind of previous experience does a Magento developer need to have?
It’s also necessary that he knows the operation of version control software applications. Such a distributed version control software application can be Git, which is, among others, used for the development of the Linux kernel, VLC media player and the Android platform.
It’s worthwhile for him being familiar with some kind of an integrated development environment (IDE) as well. IDE software applications facilitate programming, they allow quick application development by partial automation of the process.
Which programming languages does he have to master?
On the backend side, experience in the PHP language is essential, for a developer working with Magento 2, knowledge of PHP 5.6-7 specifically is what’s important. He will also need skill level knowledge of OOP that follows SOLID principles, since Magento development requires him to understand the complicated class structures. A good Magento Developer will be familiar with MVC architecture and the rules of modular development.
MySQL is important because during Magento development it’s necessary to solve a great deal of problems, for which it’s essential – especially for the handling of joins, management of InnoDb and transactions, troubleshooting of locking problems, and the management of Zend Query. He has to be capable of interpreting MySQL Explain, of knowing unfamiliar keys and normalized data structures.
The one who would like to work with Magento will also need to know Zend Cache and cache techniques in general – including the use of the open-source code Redis database manager, just like the use of the distributed memory object caching system of Memcached, and he will also need to have experience in applying single and two-level cache and in cache troubleshooting as well.
The knowledge of XML is necessary among others because config.xml is used for the configuration of modules. What’s also important for backend development is the knowledge of Varnish and Linux BASH, basic system administrator knowledge and also that the developer uses the collaboration tools with proficiency.
He should be familiar with the use of some kind of a CSS pre-processor, like LeSS or Sass. In addition, the developer has to know the basics of search engine optimization (SEO), best practices for responsive layouts, and he also has to know how to do developments in a way that the result of his work will be a system that the end users will find perfectly functional and comfortably usable on different smart devices.
What does the Magento Certified exam really provide?
In addition to web development basics, a very strong lexical knowledge is also necessary for the development of Magento, and in order for someone to actually become an expert in the system, an intensive development experience of at least a year is necessary as well.
The Magento Certified Developer exam practically guarantees having these two skills: the experience and the lexical knowledge, on which the developer’s knowledge is built. It’s not really the qualification that’s important here, but the proficiency gained during the performance of the diversified Magento development tasks.
On the other hand, for that very reason it’s also true that the exam is not a precondition of becoming a good Magento developer.
The exam is useful because it will definitely systematize the knowledge, and it will teach the beginners fundamental things like they shouldn’t write into the core files.
A developer can actually say he has an adequate level of knowledge when he doesn’t make fundamental mistakes anymore, when he writes correct codes and once he’s able to apply best practices during his work. Only real professionals are beyond that, who can do all this innovatively and creatively.
He can only do that if he exactly knows not only his own capabilities, but Magento’s limits as well and he’s able to go beyond them creatively – without making any mistakes.
Consequently, although the exam by itself is valuable, it’s not enough: for a good developer the most important thing is the experience gained during the years.
Freelancer or expert team?
When a business is looking for a Magento developer, many times they can see that a freelancer may do the same job for a lower price than what an expert team may ask for it.
A single person can’t have expert-level knowledge in every area – thus he doesn’t look at the project as a designer, as a marketing manager, or from the point of view of ROI, for instance.
It may also be a serious problem that the schedule of freelancers is hectic – many of them work during the night, which also implies that their availability during the day is uncertain. This way a single person can’t provide support to an online shop that’s considered to be the source of income of a company. Yet in case of new projects it’s critical that the provided support is appropriate, that the deadlines are always duly met.
In order to be able to count on the best job in all business areas, you will definitely need several people. Of course you might as well hire several freelancers simultaneously, on the other hand, at this point there’s really no use in not having the work done by a well-integrated development team.
Another advantage of this is that the project can be coordinated very precisely: it can be clearly defined who does what exactly, how the specialists with different focuses can help each other, which will result in the best outcome in all cases.
In case of a more significant Magento development project, a lot of areas of expertise have to be represented, and it’s also very important that the team is able to work together smoothly, that everyone knows exactly their roles and they accept the opinions of other experts.
Above all, the following professionals are needed
- a project manager,
- an IT expert,
- a designer familiar with UX,
- a frontend and backend developer,
- a quality assurance specialist,
- a business analyst,
- and a search engine optimization expert.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that each field is represented by a different person, but it’s for sure that a single person won’t be able to carry out a project for which all this knowledge is necessary.
What is expected from a team member?
The most important thing is that the developer shouldn’t want to play a lone wolf: he shouldn’t think that he can solve everything himself, but he should be aware of the fact that he’s working together with other experts, from whom he can ask for help any time – and he should do so when necessary.
A team player has to share his knowledge with others. Team players must communicate with each other continuously.
What kind of an expert is a good developer?
Those who want to work as a Magento developer, being a member of a team, in addition to personal knowledge and experience, will need a set of personal qualities that will make them capable of that. Besides being willing to share their knowledge and experience and not being afraid to ask for help from others, a set of characteristics determines whether someone is a good team player.
Such personal qualities are
- thirst for knowledge, willingness to develop,
- responsibility for oneself and for others,
- and trust for others.
Having these qualities will result in the Magento developer being able to carry out quality work, to prepare it quickly, to find innovative solutions, to work reliably and to effectively become part of the team, to complement and to assist it.
How can you select the ideal Magento freelancer?
In case of a smaller project it may be enough to hire a freelancer and not a complete development team for the job.
But how do you know whether you found the right person?
It’s important that he has his own Github and Magento Connect extension, and that you should always ask for a reference: available work that shows how the given Magento developer does his job. The main aspect in this case is to assess how functional the given end product is, but the documentation can be very informative as well, even for a layman.
Usually, an ecommerce store owner has difficulties assessing by himself whether a developer is capable of carrying out the given work, so it’s a good thing if he hires a specialist for the selection, or at least asks for some help in finding the right developer.
It may be a good idea to entrust a freelancer with the development of a module from time to time, but you have to clarify in advance that he should guarantee error-free operation and it should also be clarified under what conditions and at what price he undertakes bugfixing.
In case of development jobs that require both frontend and backend work, which are diversified, it’s worth involving a designer, a backend and frontend developer, or a company specialized in that.
But for instance a payment module can completely be done by a good backend developer alone. In case you have the opportunity, you should have the prepared module audited by a third party, this will certainly be worth the expense.
Most importantly, committed.
He doesn’t just like his job, but he carries it out with enthusiasm, always wanting to create something better.
If the desire for personal development is there, joined with diligence, that will bring along what’s described above: the developer will be motivated to
- obtain the appropriate qualifications,
- learn the appropriate skills,
- get the most possible routine and experience.
And a prestigious company only employs professionals like that: ones that have the necessary knowledge not only on paper, but who can be checked, and who are definitely capable of bringing quality development to the table.