Blog | Technical

Magento 1 vs Magento 2: The Major Benefits and Enhancements

02/02/2018

There will be a time when Magento 1 is no longer supported by the community, whereby security patches will stop being released and extension developers will stop sending out updates.

When these updates stop, your website will technically be classed as vulnerable and there will be a risk to your customer data, with certain functionality and transaction information potentially open to being compromised.

Businesses will now be looking ahead at the new technologies Magento offers from their new version (Magento 2), before planning when to start the migration process. This article will give you an overview of what we believe are the biggest gains from a i) front end user experience perspective and ii) a back end administrative angle when managing the store.

The difficulty we all have at the moment is that there is no official word or no official statement published on Magento.com or within the press of when this might happen. The closest we have to a statement is a message that was part of the literature during the announcement of Magento 2 back in 2015. It read:

“Magento 1 will continue to be supported for 3 years
following the release of Magento 2″

Three years on is 2018, and we’ve still not had any formal statement. Back in February 2017 there were some tweets from a Community Manager and Product Manager from Magento that claimed November 2018 would be the month, with one of them confirming the actual day:

Note: Screenshot of a conversation from Paul Boisvert’s (Magento Product Manager) Twitter

When the support eventually stops, we believe it will start with their Community Edition followed by their Enterprise edition. The CE version is the one a lot of SME’s use because it is free to acquire, more cost effective to set up and get started and businesses just need some professional design/development to create a theme and make it live.

The Enterprise version is a paid for product, with the licence fee paid directly to Magento. When Magento release marketing material about their product they are usually talking about the features of their paid products, so if anything were to be extended we feel it would be M1 EE.

One final point about Magento 1 …

You could still continue to use it, and developers will be able to apply their own security updates to any vulnerabilities you may have – but please know that each update would be more expensive than rolling in an update or patch.

This article has been written to share some of the most obvious benefits we are seeing, which we feel will relate the most to you, so you can start planning and thinking about whether the move is right for you or not.

As time moves on we will keep adding to this article and share more benefits we stumble across from a day to day operation and sales perspective via our Social Media channels.

 

Magento 2: The Major Benefits

Let’s talk about Magento 2 a little more, and explain the process you need to take when moving to it along with the benefits we feel you will be most interested in from our experience of listening and working with clients on their challenges.

It’s worth mentioning at this stage that there’s been some name changes for Magento versions:

  • Magento 1 Community Edition > is now called Magento 2 Open Source and is still free to use
  • Magento 1 Enterprise Edition > is now called Magento 2 Commerce and is still their paid product, which uses a slightly different licensing structure

So when we refer to the newer editions and versions, you’ll now know what we are referring to.

 

Moving from Magento 1 to Magento 2

The first thing to mention is that it’s not possible to “drag and drop” your current Magento 1 theme into Magento 2 and start operation.

Step 1: The theme must be built again because Magento 2 takes advantage of new technologies and methods. This is to help achieve a lot of the performance benefits it advertises to give you (as the store owner) and your customers (the front-end user), as well as the experience and tools they now expect.

Of course, this will give you an opportunity to not only freshen things up on your front end and improve the whole user experience, but to also help reduce design time. If you are satisfied with how your current theme is performing, then your M2 theme can follow what you already have. However, we would advise using the new M2 Basket and Checkout pages, because they are great!

Step 2: Alongside the theme development, there’s also the task of migrating your data and reinstalling the critical extensions for any features you want to carry over. You will need to pull across your attributes, categories, products, customers, and their orders to make sure you have everything you need to run with upon launch. It can take quite a bit of time depending on how much data there is, whether you run a multi-store or not, and what product relationships you have in place.

 

Benefits to Front End Consumers – your Customers!

We’ll start with all the benefits that lead to a stronger customer experience first, as this is what’s going to help your sales.

The biggest advantage Magento 2 brings is all about a seamless, fast and simple user experience.

These are the areas we value the most, and feel are worth highlighting in this overview.

 

1. Stronger on Mobile

You will see later that when it comes to Mobile, the biggest gains are within the admin area – but there are improvements for the front end too.

Out of the box, Magento 2’s whole feel on mobile is a lot smoother and faster than themes on Magento 1.

Big gains have been made in what we believe is the most important area; the navigation. The mobile menu experience is slicker than that on Magento 1 and developers like us have a much better starting point to then tailor the journey further to what your customers would expect.

 

2. Website Speed

This point is linked to some backend reasoning, but with the way Magento 2 now handles its data it can now load and perform much faster. Out of the box, every single page type of Magento 2 is faster than its predecessor.

We have seen an array of reports from tests (which are largely based on Magento 2 Commerce) that collectively claim that …

  • M2 overall offers 50% faster page loading speed compared to M1.
  • M2’s checkout is more than 35% faster to navigate through than Magento 1.
  • M2 is capable of supporting over 100% more orders per hour compared to Magento 1.
  • M2 can handle over 2 million more page views per hour than Magento 1 (we would assume these tests were made on as close to ‘like for like’ hosting environments)

It must be noted though, that you are not able to run like-for-like hosting environments for Magento 1 and Magento 2. So when looking at the numbers, please keep in mind that Magento 2 forces updates server side because of the technologies it uses.

 

3. Ajax add-to-cart

You may have noticed that when you add a product to the basket in Magento 1, the page reloads and adds a few seconds to the whole journey (maybe more on a small device in a weak connectivity spot).

These seconds can trigger abandoned baskets by customers getting frustrated and leaving your website. If you’re a business selling products of a smaller value or your customers tend to add multiple items to their baskets during a single visit then this could be quite costly.

Magento 2 has a fresher way of working and with the ajax add-to-cart technology, pages don’t need to reload which allows a much smoother experience and therefore a faster buying process.

Note: A native pop up appears immediately to ask the user what they would like to do next for a more leading experience

 

4. Smoother Checkout Experience

The whole checkout process in Magento is much neater, and more streamlined. We love it!

The experience from the Basket page right through to the Order Success page is a lot faster in our like-for-like tests because in Magento 2 it’s a lot more intuitive and misses out any unnecessary steps.

Gone is the need to click “Next” all the time and the presentation is attractively spaced out and easier on the eye.

The start of the checkout page is smarter, as it will automatically recognise if you already have an account before asking if you’d like to log in. Some customers using Magento 1 may have forgotten they had an account and then go on to re-enter their address. Whereas now, they are prompted to log in and are taken straight to the payment page.

Note: Basket page is a lot neater, with the financial summary always in immediate view

 

Note: Checkout has a reduced header as well as a simple two-step process

 

5. Ongoing Security Updates

Since Magento 2 is the future of the Magento products, we know it will continue to receive security and feature updates.

These updates will not only bring more peace of mind to your consumers in terms of how you hold and protect their data, but they may well get new front end features to take advantage of as time goes on.

These aren’t necessarily user experience elements customers will see or even use, but it’s a commitment you can talk about to encourage that feeling of confidence.

 

Benefits from an Admin / Store Manager Perspective

There are also big advances to be had from an administration and store management point of view with Magento 2. Based on the feedback we’ve received from clients, here’s our picks that we feel will mean the most to you.

Depending on how your business operates, you may find more value in all the administrative benefits Magento 2 can bring when configured and tailored to your logistics and processes. You’ll see more advantages listed here than above, but that’s because we believe there’s a lot to be said about the new Magento admin area and how much time you spend managing your store.

 

1. User Friendly Approach

There has been a lot of talk since Magento 2 was announced about having a more User-Friendly approach. A lot of our clients have mentioned in the past that Magento 1 was too complicated, and for us, that comes down to how many clicks it took to get to what should be easy access areas.

In Magento 2, everything is simplified and it has a very welcoming feel to it that’s inviting to a wider range of user capabilities.

The design is toned down; gone are the multiple background colours and instead you’re presented with a crisp white appearance. On first impression we have to admit that this felt a little backwards, but can see the benefits of this now we’re in flying around it all the time.

For those who are used to M1, this may take some getting used to, but for those just starting out, this is a great way to begin.

Note: Screenshot showing an intuitive and much easier to use Configuration area

 

2. More Room for Growth

Magento 2’s Open Source solution is a lot more advanced at handling large catalogues than its older brother, Magento 1 Community Edition.

The new free product is a lot closer to Magento 1 Enterprise Edition when it comes to performance vs. catalogue size (which you had to pay $18,000 per annum for), so that should give you an idea of how far it’s come along. This is great for small-to-medium sized businesses that want to offer more products to their consumers but still don’t have the financial budget to migrate onto the Enterprise Edition, or ‘Commerce’ as it’s now known.

On the flip side, it’s even better news for the medium-to-large size businesses who do want to embrace the new technologies of the Magento 2 Commerce, because they are technically getting even more “bang” for their buck.

When looking at a few sources across the web, we feel that these are the new stats for size of catalogue that the Magento 2 versions can handle. We would like to stress that it still does very much depend on a clean build, some good practice optimisation and a reliable hosting environment to get the most from any website – so please do take these as guides. The exact numbers will be different for every installation and project:

With Magento 1, the community felt that …

  • Magento Community Edition 1.9.x and upwards could support between 10,000 – 20,000 products when installed out of the box. With help from developers and a strong hosting environment, these limits could be pushed over 100,000 but probably no more than 200,000 products.
  • Magento Enterprise Edition 13.x. upwards was reported to be able to handle around 100,000 – 200,000 products out of the box. However, with that same help from developers and adequate hosting resource there were case studies of sites handling between 400,000 to just over 500,000 products.

With Magento 2, the numbers per version are quite different:

  • Magento 2 Open Source is reported to easily support catalogues from 100,000 to 200,000 products out of the box and,  if you notice, that’s the same as Magento 1 Enterprise Edition. When developers start to optimise that even further, and provide you with adequate hosting resource, it’s believed it could be taken closer to the 400,000 mark. We’re yet to test this ourselves, so we’re just sharing what the community is talking about.
  • Magento 2 Commerce out of the box should support well over 300,000 products from the off, and with that additional development work and adequate hosting environment you may be able to push that way over the 500,000 mark.

It’s still early days for Magento 2 in the grand scheme of things. When more results and data is published we will drop back into this post and update it.

 

3. Responsive Design

Unlike Magento 1, the whole core of the Magento 2 design has been made to be responsive across all devices, so if you need to access your online shop outside of the business either on a tablet or a mobile device, you can easily make changes.

It’s not yet as good as it could be, but it’s a lot more fitting than Magento 1 was. It’s unlikely store owners will have much need to log in on mobile devices specifically (more likely on tablet, for instance) but when they do, they will find it easier to respond quicker to external events; such as switching on a flash sale or adding some new lifestyle photography to a product page.

This will not just give store owners more flexibility, but their team members too.

Note: Magento 1 (Left) compared to the slightly improved Magento 2 (right)

 

4.  Easier Navigation

A lot of credit should go to the way Magento 2 has improved the whole navigation through the admin area. It’s been significantly reduced and menu labels are very much in layman’s terms along with icons.

It’s falling much more in line with the strengths of the Shopify and WooCommerce user interface and, for us, this is one of the biggest gains within the whole admin experience.

Our Magento 1 clients often mention how many items are in the menu and that they could quite easily go into the wrong place and potentially make a mistake. Now, a lot of menu labels have been stripped out, which makes it much easier on the eye whilst keeping everything organised in a meaningful way. The navigation is much cleaner, a lot simpler to use and just makes sense; it will certainly give admin’s much more confidence to navigate through.

Note: Main navigation along the left, that pops out in a more spacious style

 

5. Flexible ‘Column Control’

We used to get a lot of Magento 1 clients asking us to add columns into the Product and Order grid of the admin area (within Sales > Orders and Catalog > Manage Products).

With Magento 2 you have a lot more control over both areas as there’s over 30 options for the Product Grid and over 20 for the Order Grid.

This is great and can really help you filter, find and sort both areas for much quicker management.

Note: Sample of column options for product grid

 

Note: Sample of column options for order grid

 

6. Image Upload – Now Drag and Drop!

Currently the process for uploading images to your Magento pages is overly complicated. Once you’ve decided where you want your image, there are then two pop ups and a lot of folders to search through before you can get the image uploaded.

In Magento 2, you can drag and drop straight from your folder! There really isn’t any more to say about that because you can imagine how quick that’s now going to be for you rather than the traditional upload process.

Note: The New “Drag & Drop” for product images

 

7. Video Upload Feature

A great feature within Magento 2 that a lot of our clients will love is the “Add Video” feature you now get within the Image section of the product management page.

To use this, you will need a YouTube API Key from console.developers.google.com/projects and once you log in you can then copy and paste the details into the configuration area of your store.

When this is in place, you can then copy a YouTube URL into the product admin, and it pulls all the information in from YouTube before placing it within the Gallery of the product page. You can then move it into a position of your choice to make sure your customers don’t miss it.

Note: Information auto populates from YouTube

 

8. Multi Admin Access & Security

With M1, multiple users could access your account from the same login, which may have been easier for larger teams, but it definitely left room for improvement in terms of security.

M2 has done away with this, and now, if you try and log in with an account someone else is using, they will be logged out.

This may seem annoying to start out with, but each individual should have their own user access anyway because then you can control permissions and check audit logs to understand what might have happened should something go wrong. We believe it’s a great feature, and adds another layer of security that M1 didn’t have.

Note: Magento 2 doesn’t allow multiple access of the same admin account

 

In Summary …

Choosing to upgrade to Magento 2 is a big decision you and your business will need to make. If you choose to make the investment you will be moving your business onto smarter technologies that will provide a better experience for your customers and your management teams.

We’re very excited by Magento 2; we love all that’s enhanced and where the product is going.

We’d love to talk to you about the process of moving onto Magento 2 and the costs involved, so if you would like a coffee and a chat, please do get in touch.