Top Frameworks for Retail & Online Store Website Development

eCommerce Sep 17, 2020

When you decide to develop your online store site, things may get confusing, especially if your business plan involves custom eCommerce development.

Should you use an eCommerce platform, like Shopify or BigCommerce?

If you have outgrown the ready-made solutions and are looking into creating a custom eCommerce website, which programming language do you go for? PHP, Python, JavaScript?

Which framework do you use for the backend? Which framework is best for frontend development?

If your head is spinning, below is a simple breakdown of the best frameworks for online store development – so that even a non-tech person can wrap their head around it.

Let’s unpack the tools for eCommerce website development so that you can appreciate the differences among them:

  • eCommerce platforms
  • Programming languages
  • Programming frameworks

What is an eCommerce Platform?

AN ECOMMERCE PLATFORM is a fully-fledged digital product for ecommerce store development that allows any user to create an online shop in a matter of days with no coding skills. eCommerce platforms cover multiple functionalities, beyond website design, like inventory management, marketing, SEO, and payment system integration.

Best eCommerce platforms:

  • Shopify
  • Magento
  • BigCommerce
  • WooCommerce

These are usually commercial projects, with WooCommerce being the only open-source solution among the top players in the lineup of eCommerce platforms.

These solutions enable you to start an online store quickly, with a monthly or annual payment depending on the selected plan. They are very popular with eCommerce beginners because of the low initial investment in terms of time and money.

What Is A Programming Language?

A PROGRAMMING LANGUAGE is a set of written rules, phrases, and patterns that are used to provide commands to computers about what to do next.

In a real language comparison, the same thing can be said in French, Spanish, and English. Similarly, many of the things that can be done in PHP, can be done in Java, C#, Python, etc. – but with differently structured commands.

While natural languages developed historically, as people moved to distant places, their languages and accents evolved.

The computer programming languages emerged as different programmers needed to work on different tasks (web development, game development, app development, etc.) and wanted to create languages that are quicker/ more efficient for their own set of tasks.

So a programming language is the very basis of programming. Some are best for apps, some are great for game development, some facilitate writing quickly and others have a fast run time.

In web development, for example, almost a large part of websites, whose programming language is known, are created with an open-source PHP. (That is why it is popular with small business and freelancers). Even Facebook uses a version of PHP, although its popularity has faded overall with the emergence of newer languages, like Go, Ruby and Python.

Popular programming languages:

  • Javascript
  • HTML/CSS
  • Python
  • Java
  • Bash/Shell/PowerShell
  • C#
  • PHP
  • TypeScript
  • C++
  • C
  • Go
  • Kotlin
  • Ruby

What Is A Programming Framework?

A FRAMEWORK is a set of libraries that has been organized into a streamlined process of programming development flow to simplify the creation of repetitive tasks for a specific programming project. A framework provides an underlying structure and substance to a project, allowing a programmer to save time and take advantage of the crowd wisdom of open-source.

Unlike libraries, the framework is more restrictive to the programmer, allowing only limited possibilities for user-generated input. On the other end of the spectrum, the framework allows users to simplify the multiple repetitive processes to a much greater extent than libraries do.

Frameworks are usually open-sourced, developed, and tested by a huge community of professionals, so they precipitate the process of creating any web solution in a multifaceted way.

Just like programming languages, frameworks are created in a way that makes them a better fit for specific purposes. This is why choosing the right one is important. Some will be designed to help create an application, some are best for web development, and so on.

Needless to say, frameworks are based on a specific programming language, so you have to make sure to choose from available options in your language of choice.

What is the difference between frameworks and libraries?


eCommerce Platform vs Programing Language vs Framework

eCommerce platform is a ready-made solution available from commercial organizations for a monthly or annual charge, requiring no coding skills to set up, and covering all eCommerce functions, inclusive of marketing and inventory management.

The programming language is an IT discipline with rules that need to be learned to be able to direct a computer to perform actions by activating a specific piece of code. Programming language is basically a piece of knowledge, a system, that needs to be converted into a website by hiring programmers, web designers, accountants and marketing managers.

A framework is a system, an overarching outline of a project or programming mission, written in one of the languages, that allows you to simplify a repetitive task in web & app development. There can be a few frameworks combined within one project.

Frameworks For Backend And Frontend Development

Any big website, like the majority of eCommerce websites, has the server-side and the client-facing side of the website.

The frontend of things (client-facing side) deals with the design, UX, UI, and comprises about 20% of the final product. HTML, CSS, JavaScript are the classic front-end technologies.

The backend (server-facing side) is responsible for all of the rest, like database management, accessibility, and security. PHP, .NET are the classic backend technologies.

It should be noted that there are full-stack frameworks and microframeworks, which are capable of helping to build the entire web or application as opposed to fulfilling only a smaller chunk of a specific mission.

According to the breakdown of programming languages into server-side facing and client-facing, frameworks, too, are designed for front-end or back-end usage.

Let’s review some of the best frameworks for eCommerce: frontend and backend alike.

Best Frontend Frameworks

REACT AKA React.js & ReactJS (React on GiftHub; React on StackOverflow)

Created by: Jordan Walke

Released in: May 2013, followed by ReactNative in 2015 for Android & iOS.

Developer: Facebook + Open-Source

Written in programming language: JavaScript

License: MIT license

React is used to build user interfaces and UI components. It will render data only to DOM, so additional libraries need to be used for routing and state management.

Companies using React: Lyft, PayPal, DropBox, Netflix, Chrysler.

Companies using React Native for app development: Airbnb, Tesla, Walmart.

Advantages:

  • Time-saving: individual React components can be re-used any time without any impact on system
  • Smooth system operation for user & developer: virtual DOMs help updates to go seamlessly.
  • Extensive recourses: open-source community keeps creating tools, libraries, guides.

Disadvantages:

  • Steep learning curve: it does take longer to master it than Angular or Vue; not a one-day-exercise.

VUE.JS [Vue JS on GiHub]

Created by: Evan You

Released in: Feb 2014

Developer:  Evan You & Team + open-source

Written in programming language: JavaScript

License: MIT license

With 7,7 million monthly downloads, Vue.js is a rising star among JavaScript frameworks for building user interfaces. It’s hugely popular with Chinese developers to the extent that some of the material & forum discussions are only available in Chinese.

Advantages:

  • Small-sized: Vue framework is quick to download, great for SEO and UX.
  • User-friendly & easy to learn: extremely agile and straightforward, Vue is favored by developers due to its simplicity.
  • Exhaustive documentation: Vue.js docs are concise and well-structured.
  • Browser extensions help you to work with different individual components.

Disadvantages:

  • Young community: not as mature as other veterans of the framework offers, this community is still growing.
  • Flexibility-paralysis: too much flexibility within one team may lead to contradictory approaches that cancel each other out.

ANGULAR

Created by: Google

Released in: October 2010

Developer: Google, open-source

Written in programming language: JavaScript

License: MIT license

This popular open-source Google-created JavaScript-based framework employs MVC architecture for single web page applications.

Companies using Angular: Guardian, Upwork, Freelancer, YouTube for PS3

Advantages:

  • Less coding time: data models take less time to write and there’s no need to modify controllers, but use filters instead.
  • Two-way data binding: the framework provides a seamless projection of models that saves developers' efforts.
  • Testing: the testing function is significantly simplified and is designed to be a nearly inherent function.
  • Great MVC

Disadvantages:

  • Security: the absence of server authorization and authentication leads to security issues.
  • Memory leakage: potential memory leakage that leads to slowdowns and crashes.

Best Frameworks for Backend
NODE JS (NODE JS ON GITHUB)

Node JS is a free-source cross-platform framework that features under its roof modules like networking, cryptography, data streams, etc.

Created by: Ryan Dahl

Released in: May 2009

Developer:  various + open-source

Written in programming language: JavaScript, C, CC+

License: MIT license

Companies using Node JS: Groupon, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Walmart, PayPal.

Advantages:

  • Scalability: multiple client service with one server makes the technology highly scalable. Real-time web development makes way for uninterrupted amendments as you go.
  • Amazing speed: Non-blocking event-driven I/O model combined with a callback feature makes the framework one of the fastest across the board – thus hugely popular with the developer community.
  • Server-side & client-side programming combo: this Java-Script written framework allows developers to code both backend and frontend with its help.

Disadvantages:

  • Callback hell - prone: Node JS relies on callbacks, but when they are nested several layers deep, that makes code overly complicated and hard to maintain.
  • Some tools are immature: while the major documentation is extensive, some tooling is relatively fresh and needs more detailing.

RUBY ON RAILS (RUBY OB RAILS ON GITHUB)

Created by: David Heinemeier Hansson

Released in: 2004

Developer:  David Heinemeier Hansson + open-source

Written in programming language: Ruby

License: MIT license

Ruby on Rails eCommerce framework has been used by the following companies: Twitter, GitHub, Shopify, Groupon.

Advantages:

  • It saves time: RoR has a plethora of plugins and modules that programmers can use to save up to 40% of time spent compared to coding in other languages.
  • Testing tools for bug-free development: test-driven development and a comprehensive testing suite of tools help to test most of the RoR codes quickly and proficiently.

Disadvantages:

  • Lower runtime speed: if you expect millions of users to inundate your application, RoR might be not the optimal choice, as performance might suffer under high load conditions.
  • Falling popularity: the popularity of the Ruby on Rails framework has been falling over the years, with Laravel and Django growing. The demand creates supply, so in terms of talent and community support, things may deteriorate sooner rather than later.

LARAVEL (LARAVEL ON GITHUB)

This PHP-written framework is used for web-app development and follows MVC architectural patterns. With 102 million downloads, it’s safe to say many developers are enjoying its artisanal elegant syntaxis.

Created by: Taylor Otwell

Released in: June 2011

Developer: Taylor Otwell + open-source

Written in programming language: PHP

License: MIT license

Websites made with Lavarel: Mailcoach.app, Animalo.

Advantages:

  • Authorization and authentication: easy to create, as most of the features can be used out-of-the-box.
  • Template Engine: allows developers to save time by using pre-made templates.
  • Mail service integration: mail integration allows email app customers to boost retention and increase sales.

Disadvantages:

  • Relatively new & immature
  • Limited built-in support that slows things down for bigger sites.

SYMFONY (SYMFONY ON GITHUB)

Created by: Fabien Potencier

Released in: October 2005

Developer:  Symphony Community

Written in programming language: PHP

License: MT

Symfony is a mature PHP-based framework that allows developers to create eCommerce websites and applications. If not the best framework for building an online store, it's definitely one of the top solutions opted for in 2020 when choosing an online store framework.

Companies using Symfony framework: Thelia, DailyMotion, Opensky

Advantages:

  • Active and well-seasoned community: as one of the oldest PHP frameworks, this community and documentation know exactly how to deal with impediments and are ready to share their know-how.
  • Interoperability: on top of the usual PHP standards, like PHPUnit, naming conventions for classes, the Symphony framework does not tie developers into using it exclusively, but permits them to use building blocks like translations management and forms management.

Disadvantages:

  • Slower performance: for high-load websites with big traffic, Symphony may not be the best solution out there.
  • Steeper learning curve: it’s not the easiest and fastest framework to master or code with, so some time investment is to be expected.

DJANGO (DJANGO ON GITHUB)

Created by: Adrian Holovaty, Simon Willison

Released in: July 2005

Developer:  Django Software Foundation

Written in programming language: Python

License: 3-clause BCD

Companies using Django: Instagram, Washington Times, Mozilla.

Advantages:

  • Secure: developers get access to a suite of security-geared features that offer protection from cross-site request forgery, cross-site scripting, and more.
  • Fast: this framework for an online store is engineered to save coding time through several levers, inclusive of supplying ready-made code for most common operations like session management, HTML templating, and database manipulation.
  • Scalable: customization, scaling and the ability to amend decoupled components make scaling a mission possible with the Django eCommerce framework.

Disadvantages:

  • Steeper learning curve
  • Monolithic structure

How To Choose The Right Technologies For Your eCommerce Website?

Once you decide to build a custom eCommerce website and application for an online or offline store, things get complicated quickly.

If you have previous experience in conducting eCommerce business on a platform like Shopify or BigCommerce – it's a matter of choosing the right custom software development company and entrusting them to do the job for you.

If you are starting a business from scratch, or considering taking your offline store online, things may get even more cumbersome, as you may be facing challenges from many sides. This is when you need professional programming help even more so that you free your hands for other business imperatives.

We suggest the following algorithm to help you figure out which programming language to choose and what the best eCommerce framework is for your future website; as well as crystallize other components of your retail tech stack:

  1. Find a few websites, whose loading speed, architecture, design, UX, UI, payment process you like, and try to find out which tech stack they use. You may check out stachkshare for this purpose.
  2. Read up on the topic and see what Google has in store for you in terms of advice on the best programming language for the retail industry and top eCommerce framework.
  3. Come up with as detailed a technical task for your retail website creation as possible and send it over to a few companies specializing in custom eCommerce website & app development with a request for proposal.

Ideally, you will have sent such a request to a few diverse companies: North American, Eastern European, Indian, for example.

This will give you some ideas about the recommended technologies, as well as about their service, response time, professionalism, and last but not least, price.

  1. Compare the pricing, talent availability in your region, scalability, and the performance of suggested tech stack. Choose the best solution.

Zoolatech eCommerce Gurus: Let Us Help You Choose Your Framework for eCommerce

Our veteran team of eCommerce developers is proficient in every programming language there is. We use the best frameworks on a case by case basis depending on your needs, deadlines, ambitions, budgets.

We LOVE consulting with people on their new projects and we don’t mind sharing our expertise with you free of charge.

Do let our team know of your requirements, budgets, and timeline, so we can recommend the best tech stack for your retail or eCommerce project, as well as provide you with an estimate for getting it done with Zoolatech.

Our tech talent is based in the heart of Eastern Europe, Ukraine, so you will be pleasantly surprised with our rates. Our management is located in Silicon Valley, so our service and responsiveness 100% reflect those California roots.
Just drop us a line, call us, or follow us on Facebook for a quick question or a detailed project estimate.

Zoolatech Team

We are a team of technology addicts eager to transform our clients’ needs into efficient and innovative solutions through high-quality service and reliable customer support.