How to Become a BigCommerce Developer

BigCommerce is the fastest growing SaaS eCommerce platform in the world. When it comes to offering both B2C and B2B features simultaneously, I believe BigCommerce is also one of the best eCommerce solutions.

In the past few months, there seems to be a lot of demand for web developers, especially within the eCommerce industry. I see a lot of recruiters looking for Shopify and BigCommerce developers.

This blog post will cover the essential skills to become an expert BigCommerce theme developer. In subsequent blog posts, I’ll cover the path to becoming a BigCommerce App developer, SEO expert, BigCommerce solution architect, etc.

I’ll be writing this article as instructions for someone completely new to web development. You may already have some foundational knowledge and can skip ahead, but do not underestimate the value of refreshers.

Understanding Basics of Web/Internet

Semantic HTML

  • HTML would be one of the first steps towards becoming an expert in web development.
  • In my 12+ years of experience, I often come across applicants/people who claim to be an expert in HTML, but they are not aware of web semantics, web standards, etc.
  • So I would strongly suggest that you make sure you’re learning web semantics and understand W3C standards when you’re learning HTML. Writing meaningful HTML can help your website user experience, accessibility, performance, and SEO.
  • There are a lot of online courses available (Free or paid).

CSS

  • I am adding CSS as a second step here, but it will mostly go side-by-side with HTML.
  • There are a lot of frameworks out there for CSS, but I strongly recommend learning pure CSS. Once you understand the fundamentals of a language, then you can adopt any framework quickly. Coding in pure CSS will help to improve your styling skills.
  • While learning CSS, also learn about responsive web design and the mobile-first approach.

Design Tools

  • Having a basic understanding of design concepts and tools will help you a lot in your web development career. You don’t have to be an expert in these design tools, but you should have enough knowledge to extract the assets and other information from the design files.
  • Figma, Photoshop, Sketch, and Adobe XD are the popular design tools used in front end web development
  • Tip: Once you have gone through the HTML/CSS learning. Try to find some design files of a web page and convert that design into a functional responsive webpage using HTML/CSS.

JavaScript/ES6

  • Having a solid knowledge of Vanilla JS will help you a lot.
  • Find a course online which teaches you the core concept of the JS. Make sure you’re learning ES6 advanced features (arrow functions, fetch/await, map function, etc). Basically, find a course which teaches you the core concept of JS and latest advanced features of JS.
  • Once you finish your JavaScript learning, then one thing I strongly suggest is to PRACTICE. There are courses available on YouTube which involves some practice JS projects. This is an area where many applicants are weak, so continuous, extensive JS practice will put you ahead.

jQuery

  • There are a lot of JS frameworks/libraries. Once you have a good understanding of JavaScript, it will be easy to adapt any framework. In this list, I’ll include jQuery as an essential skill. The BigCommerce Cornerstone theme and many websites on the internet are still using jQuery, so it’s a good idea to learn this.

Knowledge of BigCommerce Platform

  • This step is significant. You can not develop the BigCommerce websites if you don’t know about the different features available within the BigCommerce itself.
  • I prefer developers to have a strong understanding of the basics of the BigCommerce platform before developing themes or websites on the platform.
  • You can create a trial BigCommerce store, go through all different sections within the admin panel, and play around.
    • Setup simple and complex products
    • Setup categories with the parent-child relationship
    • Import-export products
    • Setup customer groups
    • Payment methods, shipping, discounts, taxes, etc
    • Go through every option and understand how it works.
  • BigCommerce Videos:

Basic Knowledge of command-line tools

  • It would be good to have basic knowledge of working within terminal/PowerShell.
  • You will need to install Stencil CLI and other components via node or other methods when working with BigCommerce.

SCSS

  • https://sass-lang.com/
  • Sass is a processor scripting language for CSS. Once you have a good knowledge of CSS, this will not be a problem. You need to read its documentation, and you should be in a pretty good spot.
  • Sass helps you write your CSS quickly and more efficiently.

Stencil Theme Framework

  • BigCommerce uses Stencil as its theme engine. Having a good understanding of this framework will be crucial for BC Theme development.
  • Here is the link to BigCommerce Stencil Documentation
  • Make sure you understand how to work with Stencil CLI, Page Builder CLI, etc.
    • It will require basic knowledge of node, command-line tools, API creation, etc.

GraphQL/Storefront APIs

  • BigCommerce has also released storefront APIs, which are in JS and GraphQL. BigCommerce storefront cart/order API will come in very handy if you’re working on setting up third-party tracking codes/data layers.
  • GraphQL API can help you extract more information from BigCommerce objects that are not available by default in handlebars.

Basic Knowledge of SEO

  • If you’re developing a website for a client, they will want the website to appear in search engines and to generate business from the website. I don’t expect developers to be SEO experts, but they should have basic knowledge of SEO concepts.
  • Often, developers may be working on an existing website CRO implementation or working with a team for on-page SEO items.
  • Make sure you understand:
    • Canonical tags
    • XML Sitemaps
    • HTML sitemaps
    • Meta Descriptions & Title Tags
    • Rich Snippets
    • and more

Web Accessibility

  • In the past few years, many merchants have received lawsuits regarding failing to meet ADA compliance guidelines.
  • There are third-party apps that make the website accessible, but those are limited and won’t solve every issue.
  • When designing or developing a website, it’s recommended to keep web accessibility guidelines in mind.
  • As a developer, understanding the ADA compliance checklist and techniques will be very helpful. This skill will set you apart from other applicants.

Knowledge Web Performance optimization

  • Slow websites are bad for conversions. There are techniques and development workflows that can help you develop fast websites.
  • Learn about Core Web Vitals. Nowadays, Google considers CWV as a ranking factor.
  • I would say that web performance optimization is a crucial skill and will help you develop quality & fast BigCommerce websites and set you apart from other devs.

Git/Version Control

  • There might be a possibility that you might be working on a project that other team members are working on. So it’s a good idea to have a good knowledge of Git. It will make collaborative work much more manageable.

Third-Party Apps Integration

  • Most BigCommerce websites may require one or more app installation/setup. There are many options available, such as: reviews app, filters app, rewards app, back in a stock app, or other functionality.
  • To become a successful BigCommerce Developer, you must know how to install these third-party apps.

Project Management Tools

  • In order to work well with a team or even manage your personal projects, it’s recommended to know the basics of Project Management tools. E.g., Basecamp, Asana, Teamwork, JIRA, Trello, etc.
  • You don’t need to understand every tool because all have similar functionality (like tasks, time tracking, progress tracking, etc.). But the basic idea is to understand the communication process and workflow of the company you’re working with.
  • When working with a company or client, good communication is vital so begin to practice daily documentation of your work.

Testing & Bug Tracking Tools

  • Once you complete the site development, the next step would be to test this on different platforms, devices, and browsers. I use BrowserStack, but there are other platforms available as well. Similarly, for bug tracking, I use BugHerd, but there are other tools available as well.
  • The idea isn’t to learn every tool but the concept and process. You may go through one tool and understand how it works and how it can improve your development workflow.

Helpful Links:

  1. BigCommerce Knowledgebase Videos
  2. BigCommerce Stencil Framework
  3. BigCommerce Theme Objects
  4. BigCommerce Storefront APIs
  5. BigCommerce GraphQL API
  6. BigCommerce BigDev BootCamp
  7. BigCommerce Trial Store Creation
  8. BigCommerce Cornerstone Theme Demo
  9. Learn (web.dev)
  10. Optimize for Core Web Vitals – YouTube

Feel free to reach out if you are looking for mentorship, career guidance in web development, or one-on-one BigCommerce development training sessions.

Published by

Amandeep

Blogger & Web Developer having expertise in Shopify, BigCommerce, WordPress and Front-End Technologies (HTML, CSS and JavaScript).

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