The Way We Work
September 27, 2011 by Brian McDonough

BigCommerce is one of oDesk’s biggest successes — for contractors and employers alike. The fast-growing SaaS e-commerce platform became an oDesk partner six months ago. In March, we rolled out our oDesk Group for BigCommerce developers — a place to find vetted experts in customizing the popular platform for small businesses eager to establish a powerful, professional virtual storefront.

By mid-September, the group had secured its spot as our largest developer group. The employers — many of them brand new to oDesk — have given us very positive feedback on these developers and their skills. We sat down with a pair of employers to find out why the combination of BigCommerce technology and oDesk talent was so effective.

Something for Everyone

MineralTiles’ Adriana and Henry Maia.

Entrepreneur Henry Maia of MineralTiles.com says he’d been using one of BigCommerce’s generic templates for a year when he finally decided to make the improvements that would make his site stand out. The Doral, Florida, entrepreneur says he waited a year to make the move because he had figured it would be difficult to find a good contractor, and if he did, it would be someone he couldn’t afford. Turns out he was wrong on both counts.

“After an hour of research, I found someone that I believed to be the perfect match, and he was,” he says. “We worked together and it was a great experience. I had him redesign my website and also integrate social media, and I have more work lined up for him.”

Maia and his wife, Adriana, run an online tile sales site, and says he’s not very tech-oriented, so it makes sense that he’d be attracted both to BigCommerce’s user-friendly technology and to oDesk’s global talent pool. But Sean Park-Ross’ Calyx is a web-development firm, skilled and experienced in building websites of all types, that turned to oDesk and BigCommerce to build its own e-commerce site.

“We turned to oDesk … because at the time all our in-house developers were a bit stacked with other work and we needed some extra help quickly to meet our deadline,” says Park-Ross, managing director of the South African firm.  “The designer we chose proved to be capable, understanding and efficient, and delivered us the development work we needed to a high standard and on time. And, as more bits and pieces and fixes trickled in, he adapted and delivered those well, too.”

Works Great, More Fulfilling

While Maia has no background in web design, and Ross’ in-house staff are professional web developers, both find BigCommerce and oDesk a powerful combination.

Calyx founders Sean Park-Ross and Stuart O’Brien.

“BigCommerce is a fantastic store platform and, in our opinion, one of the best platforms available at the moment for small to medium-sized online retailers,” says Park-Ross, whose clients have included Conde Nast Traveller, Vogue.com, Oakley sunglasses and Pepsi Max. “It’s packed with features and is a lot easier for us to customize for any client around the world with its region specific options than some other platforms we’ve used.”

Both men say they’ve seen sales pick up since oDesk helped them polish their BigCommerce sites. Maia notes that he gets a lot of compliments from other companies in the business, and many peers assume his home-based business is much larger, simply because of how impressive his site is.

Making the Magic Happen

So how does an employer add oDesk to BigCommerce and create a vibrant website — in a fast, easy, cost-efficient process? Maia and Park-Ross have a few tips.

“Don’t be afraid of hiring someone online,” Maia says. “Do your homework: visit the contractors’ portfolios, take a look at the tests they have taken.”

Ross agrees that a lot of factors — all evident in the contractor’s oDesk profile, and through interviewing top candidates — go into finding the best person for your job.

“Don’t just look for price when you are hiring contractor,” Park-Ross says. “Pay a little more for a contractor who has better reviews and is fairly established.”

“As long as you find the right person with relevant experience, and work well with them, oDesk is a brilliant tool to increase your productivity bandwidth for e-commerce development,” Park-Ross says.

“I had many projects that were in the drawer and I started pulling them out it since I found oDesk,” Maia adds, ticking off press releases, SEO, new web development and more. “I keep on my iPad a list of projects that I intend to hire for from oDesk.”

Have you had experience with Big Commerce or other web development projects? How do you make the right hire, and manage the project? Tell us about it in the comments.

Brian McDonough

Freelance Writer

Brian McDonough has been a writer and editor for more than 15 years, and has managed teams of in-house and freelance writers for newspapers, magazines and web sites.