TABLE OF CONTENTS

How to Choose Gatsby JS Development Agency?

Chris Lojniewski
By Chris Lojniewski
gatsbypicturepagepro

Introduction

Gatsby JS quickly became one of the hottest tools on the market because it provides many benefits for industries like eCommerce, SaaS, and more by helping them build super-fast websites.

Apart from fast page load speed, Gatsby also offers:

  • SEO efficiency thanks to the website’s performance and structure
  • Great users experience as there are no design limitations
  • Organic traffic growth due to all the mentioned things
  • Low hosting costs as Gatsby websites are static
  • And much more

All these factors significantly impact the position of companies on the web in comparison to their competition.

Additionally, many businesses decide to work with a specialized Gatsby JS agency, which helps them with Digital Transformation or migration from other platforms to Jamstack.

As we know, mutual trust is crucial to healthy cooperation, but that trust shouldn’t be left to chance. On the contrary – you should be prepared well so you can find a trustworthy business partner.

This article will show you step-by-step what factors you should consider to limit the risk of error to a minimum.

The interview with Gatsby JS agency

An interview is an essential part of any recruitment process – whether you are recruiting someone to join an in-house team or hiring a specialised agency to do the job. To raise the chances of making the right choice, you should be well prepared for such an interview. If you aren’t, it will be just a waste of time on both sides.

You can follow our five-step process:

A step-by-step plan to preapafre for the interview with gatsby agency
Five-step process of choosing Gatsby JS development agency

How to run an interview with a Gatsby JS development agency?

Step 1: Specify needs and budget

Note down the features and functionalities that you want your website or application to have. Make sure that they are written in order of importance. Firstly, it’s helpful to estimate the project. Secondly, if there is a limited budget and an estimation will be higher, you will know what you can cross out from that list and still deliver a website that will bring value to users.

After specifying your needs, think about the budget. Be aware that if your project is more complex, you might have to spend more than you thought initially, as new ideas may appear during the process. 

Step 2: Check the agency’s website

Think of a website as a bigger business card.

Spend a few minutes on a particular agency website and check:

  • Their specialisation  – check what experience with Gatsby they have. If they are specialised in Gatsby, you are in good hands, but it’s also enough if they are good in React and only made a few React projects. However, don’t treat it like a deciding factor when it comes to choosing an agency. Gatsby is still a new technology, and not everyone is showing it off on their page. So if you find a web development agency that resonates with you, simply ask them directly about their experience.
  • A number of developers – it doesn’t matter whether your project is big or small. In both cases, you don’t want to be dependent on one or two developers. If there is no such information on a website, check the agency’s profile on LinkedIn.
  • Localisation (optional) – we live in remote times, so it may not matter that much. Many agencies work remotely daily, so they probably already have a good communication system which is crucial to any project’s success. Just make sure that the time difference won’t be a problem in communication to you.

Step 3: Check the agency’s portfolio

Look for websites created with Gatsby in the agency’s portfolio and projects similar to the one you want to start. The other important thing is projects within your niche – does this particular agency have done some work for companies from your industry? It would be helpful for them to understand you and your business better.

Step 4: Read reviews and testimonials

There should be some reviews and testimonials on the agency’s website. You can verify them by contacting the clients directly and asking them for an honest opinion.

Another idea is to check not only the website of Gatsby JS agency but also portals like Clutch

Step 5: Prepare a list of questions

After these four steps, you should have a shortlist of agencies you want to talk to. Now it’s time to prepare a list of general and technical questions to ask them and to make a decision based on their answers. Such a list will help you get a general overview of the Gatsby agency experience and determine if that’s enough for your project. 

Questions to ask Gatsby JS development agency

Choosing the right Gatsby agency is not only about their technical knowledge and skills but also how do they work in general. Because of that, we prepared a list of both general and technical questions that will help you make sure about your choice.

a list of questions to ask gatsby agency

General questions

Before checking the technical knowledge, ask some general questions which will tell you about the general abilities and accessibility of a particular Gatsby JS development agency.

1. What’s your bench?

Bench means a number of available developers. In other words – the answer to this question will tell you when a particular agency can begin works on your project. 

For example, developers at Pagepr work either on clients’ projects or internal projects. However, some of them can drop the internal project to start working on your project at any time.

2. How long did your longest project last?

Building a lasting business relationship is a valuable skill. Regardless of your project’s size, look for an agency with some bigger projects in its portfolio. It’s proof that they can manage projects – even those demanding – in the long term.

The longer the project lasts, the more problems occur. Therefore, such an agency established best practices to manage projects in the best possible way. Additionally, they won’t be surprised with anything that looks problematic at a glance. 

3. Can I ask you for a code review?

It’s a clever question because, in fact, you are asking if a particular agency has some senior developers on board. It’s because usually, code reviews are something that senior devs are responsible for. If they can’t, a red light should light up. It could mean that they don’t have enough experience.

Additionally, this question is sometimes a better indicator of technical knowledge than a long technical interview.

4. Do you take part in any open-source and community projects?

You would like to work with an agency that is passionate about programming, right? If so, ask them if they are contributing to the community through:

  • Open-source projects
  • Conference and events
  • Sharing their knowledge and experience

5. Do you use Continuous Integration?

Continuous Integration is one of the best practices for quality assurance. For experienced dev teams, it’s the way to check if the application works well after integrating new commits into the main branch.

6. Can you send me the developers’ CVs?

One way to check the agency’s competencies is to ask for their developers’ profiles or CVs. These documents should contain details about technical qualifications, previous projects, and other valuable information.

7. Can I talk with some of your previous customers?

Don’t take the agency’s word for how great they are. Ask them if you can call actual or previous clients to get some information. There are some questions you could ask like:

  • What made you decide to choose this agency?
  • What can you tell me about their code quality and documentation?
  • Are you satisfied with how the project was managed and executed?
  • What’s their level of English knowledge?
  • What could go better?
  • How do they work under pressure?

8. What did you use before Gatsby, and why did you make a switch?

Look for reasonable arguments behind such a decision – it should be a value-based decision, not a trend-based one. If the agency doesn’t see a real value in Gatsby and is just following the crowd, maybe they aren’t the right choice.

Technical questions

Now comes the hard part. If you don’t have much Gatsby experience, asking technical questions is challenging. What questions should you ask? What are the correct answers to them? You can always use Google to find some examples. However, we decided to help you by selecting technical questions and answering them.

1. What are the pros and cons of Gatsby?

We wrote the entire blog post about Gatsby pros and cons.

2. How does SSR work in Gatsby?

Instead of purely server-side rendering, Gatsby creates static HTML files at build time when you use gatsby build. Gatsby-rendered HTML pages give you the SEO boost of server-side rendering with a static site generator’s speed and security.

Gatsby is a static site generator which means pages are generated on the server only at the build time (when you use the ‘gatsby build’ command). By the client-side, Gatsby uses hydration (the process of using client-side JavaScript) to transform the static HTML created at build time into a React application (to add application state and interactivity to server-rendered HTML). Because Gatsby pages are server-side rendered, all the page content is available to Googlebot and other search engine crawlers (better SEO).

3. How to optimise images in Gatsby?

Use the Gatsby Image plugin. 

Gatsby’s official website has a well-written how-to guide about using the Gatsby Image plugin.

4. How to query for data in a component and a page?

By using StaticQuery Component or Page Query.

5. How does StaticQuery differ from page query?

StaticQuery allows components to retrieve data. PageQuery allows page components to retrieve data.

StaticQuery can do most of the things that a page query can, including fragments. The main differences are:

  • page queries can accept variables (via pageContext) but can only be added to page components
  • StaticQuery does not accept variables (hence the name “static”) but can be used in any component, including pages
  • StaticQuery does not work with raw React.createElement calls; please use JSX, e.g. <StaticQuery />

6. How to add a plugin to your site?

Gatsby plugins are Node.js packages. Therefore, you can install them like any other packages in node using npm. Then in your site’s gatsby-config.js, you add a plugin to the plugins array.

7. How to create pages in Gatsby?

You can create pages in three ways:

  • By creating React components in the src/pages directory.
  • By using the File System Route API to create pages from GraphQL programmatically and to create client-only routes.
  • In the website’s gatsby-node.js file by implementing the API createPages.

8. How to add content using Markdown?

Gatsby can use Markdown files to create pages on your site. To make it possible, add plugins to read and understand folders with Markdown files and create pages automatically.

9. How to style with CSS-in-JS?

For example, by using the Styled Components library. It lets developers use actual CSS syntax inside components. Styled Components is a variant of “CSS-in-JS” and a solution to many traditional CSS issues.

Additional tips

To minimalise the risk of making a wrong choice while choosing Gatsby JS agency, you can take this verification process further.

We recommend you to consider:

  • Talking with at least a few agencies – even if the first agency you will talk to will look like a perfect fit, don’t stop there and talk with more agencies. It will give you a more in-depth overview of what you can expect from agencies and what are the average rates.
  • Verifying provided information – nowadays, it’s easier than ever to look more skilled and experienced than in reality. Therefore, don’t fall in love with big words. Instead, verify obtained information by checking LinkedIn profiles of employees or calling previous clients
  • Double-checking technical skills – you can ask for a short trial, code samples or technical interview with one of the agency’s developers.


What’s next?

Want to ask us some of these questions?

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