Is your website still running on Magento 1? The Magento 2 end-of-life date has changed so many times that it became routine to delay this major upgrade to Magento 2. But at this point, not upgrading could restrict options for growing your online business because all of the new features and extensions are being developed only for Magento 2.
Procrastination might be only one reason that you haven’t started moving your e-commerce website to Magento 2. Long story short – it isn’t easy! Maybe you have started down the road and paused while waiting for a vendor to update a critical extension, or maybe just because you can’t find enough advantages to make the switch worthwhile, given the cost and effort. But since time is running out and the end of life for Magento 1 security updates is officially June 2020, it is time to get going and begin the process of moving your site.
Redoing your site gives some opportunities to fix problems that are common with sites that have quickly grown. Consider the following:
- Use a ticketing system. If you don’t have a ticketing system like JIRA, it’s a good time to get one. Before beginning your move to Magento 2, write a thorough requirements document. Identify major milestones. Enter this information into your ticketing system, set target dates for the milestones, break the requirements down into tasks and subtasks. Involve the development team in the ticketing system since this is the easiest way for you to communicate.
- Hold daily scheduled standup meetings. Plan on having regular meetings with your development team. Sometimes a quick meeting can clear a blocker that would otherwise cause a development team to spend extra cycles.
- Follow best practices. Make sure all of your new Magento development follows best practices, especially that no core code is changed so upgrades go smoothly.
- Update your architecture. Bring your architecture up to a professional level. A professional development environment generally has three versions of your site – development, stage, and production. Magento Cloud has these features built in and might be a good option if you are not comfortable with supporting the necessary architecture or simply don’t want to deal with the hosting.
- Develop locally and use code repositories. Developers should work on their own local environment which is either a virtual machine or a native Mac or Linux setup. They should make commits to a repo like Bitbucket or GitHub, and then these commits should be deployed to the development environment and tested before they are accepted. This local Magento 2 setup is not simple and can take significant effort, but it is critical to smooth development.
- Provide access to servers and to your development team for 3rd parties. Third party extension vendors nearly always request direct access to a development server, so be prepared for this. Your own development team will be responsible for committing these fixes to the repo so they are not reverted by mistake. Sometimes your developers may need to meet with the 3rd party vendors, perform testing for them or supply details of a particular problem.
- Jazz up your site’s frontend “look and feel.” There are lots of beautiful themes available for Magento 2. So it is a chance to polish your design and make your site more modern, professional looking, and easier to use.
This project could be major, depending on the complexity of your site. If your site is very simple, it might be a good time to break away from Magento and go with something more basic, which could be a solution that did not exist when you first built your site.
But if your site has custom features, it is critical that this Magento 2 migration is started and that it is done in such a way that will not cause major delays. In the end, you’ll have a web presence that is more professional, with a solid, modern architecture that you will be able to use as a foundation for your online business for years to come.
Things to Consider
- It is definitely time to stop putting it off. Changing platforms can be a slow process, and if you have not already done so, now is the time to develop detailed requirements and find your development team.
- The terms “upgrade” and “migration” are used very loosely. This is a complete rebuild of your site and there are very few components that will cleanly migrate.
- You might not really need Magento. If your Magento 1 site is not complex, you might benefit from a simple cloud-based e-commerce solution like Shopify. The downside is that the simple solutions will be limited in functionality and will restrict your ability to customize your site.
- Magento 2 is changing – so you are shooting at a moving target. The frequent releases make planning more difficult. This increases the importance of working with developers who are good communicators and flexible planners.
- Keep in mind that many organizations will be switching to Magento 2 in the coming months, and high-quality Magento developers are still scarce. With the demand outweighing the supply of developers, development costs can go up and schedules can be delayed. Find your development team and lock them in as soon as possible.
Pointers for Planning the Switch
- Every extension has to be upgraded. None of them can just be reinstalled in Magento 2.
- Assess your extensions. Make a spreadsheet of the 3rd party and custom built extensions for your site. Figure out which are not used and eliminate them from your list.
- Check with each extension vendor to find out if they support Magento 2. Make sure to check that the vendor is keeping up with Magento 2 upgrades, which can vastly impact whether or not an extension will work.
- Consider other options for outdated extensions. If you find an extension vendor isn’t keeping up, you can consider other alternatives, such as having the extension custom built or finding another 3rd party solution.
- Consider custom development. Keep in mind that 3rd party extensions will often contain many more features than what you actually need. A good developer can often build an extension with just the features you need. While this might be more costly in the short term, it lowers the total cost of ownership since you have control over when and how the code is updated.
- Set aside budget for 3rd party vendors. All said – you might still need customization work from 3rd party extension vendors just to make an extension work properly with your other extensions. Set aside some budget dollars for this when you plan.
- Write testing criteria for your site. You will use it to make sure all of your new functionality meets your needs, and documenting this test criteria can help you with future upgrades too.