This is a guest post contributed to us by our friends at MW2 Consulting.
The latest major version of Magento was released close to two years ago. However, a certain portion of ecommerce websites still haven’t migrated to Magento 2. In many ways, this is easy to understand. After all, Magento 2 is vastly different from Magento 1, which creates a number of potential issues. Even though this ecommerce platform is among the most capable ones, this is also its weakness. Migrating to Magento 2 often poses an inconvenience along with added expenses. However, this shouldn’t be the case if this process is meticulously planned.
Allow us to resolve any doubts if you are wondering when is the best time to make this leap. The most important thing you need to know is that Magento 1 will reach its end of life in November 2018, so you should start preparing your online store as soon as possible. You don't want to rush into this process and you also want plenty of time to test-drive the new platform to iron out any issues.
In an effort to help you to prepare for migrating to Magento 2, we will now present you with an overview of this process. Hopefully, this will help you to avoid common mistakes.
Getting Started: Leave Something Behind
Try to think about this process as moving into a new home. As you know, this is when you deal with your valuables and decide whether they are worth keeping. The same principle applies to your ecommerce website. This is the best time to re-think whether you have any use of specific products, categories, and pages, among other things.
Here's what needs to be done before entering this process:
- Make a note of unwanted products, pages, and features. You've probably made a mistake or two when building your website using Magento 1. This is the time to fix those errors and transfer what you actually need.
- Don’t forget to think about the future as well. A transition as significant as this one can be used to your advantage. Imagine how your ecommerce store might expand over time and make sure to build a sturdy foundation.
- Since you'll need to optimize your website's theme for Magento 2, this is an excellent reason to make some design tweaks. This doesn't mean that you should go overboard, especially if you already have a loyal group of customers. Instead, smaller changes can go a long way. Think about how you can make your website more user-friendly.
Once you're ready to proceed, you'll see that you need to go through four main steps: you need to migrate your website's theme, extensions, any modifications to its code, and finally – the data itself.
Step 1: Migrate Your Website’s Design
Themes created for Magento 1 cannot be transferred to Magento 2 in an instant. Instead, this is a process of optimization in compliance with a set of new standards. The good news is that your online store doesn’t have to look any different – unless you want to change some things. Concerning visual design, the newest version of Magento brings a lot of freedom. You are able to create more interactive websites that are fully responsive as well.
Here are some quick tips:
- In general, the majority of Magento 2 users opt for a premium-priced theme obtained from one of the numerous online marketplaces. This can certainly help you save some development time. Make sure that you (or your Web Developer) won’t need to spend too much time customizing the chosen theme.
- Inspect a theme’s features and documentation. For example, does it support CMS blocks and how does it handle images? Does a specific theme grant flexibility and freedom when you decide to expand your website in the future?
- Some themes are more ‘heavy’ than others – both visually and in terms of their size. You want your users to find their way easily around your online store. Make sure you know the various ways of displaying and filtering your store’s products.
Step 2: Find Compatible Extensions
Extensions compatible with the original version of Magento aren’t compatible with Magento 2. However, this shouldn't be a concern as almost every popular extension has been updated and now supports the new version of this ecommerce platform. It is actually a good thing if you still haven’t migrated because Developers have had plenty of time to perfect their Magento 2 extensions.
If you’re not interested in changing your workflow, you can use your existing ones (that have been updated, of course). However, it’s also wise to try and find a better alternative. Here are a few tips when researching Magento 2 extensions:
- Don't overcomplicate your ecommerce website. Employing numerous different extensions will extend the time needed for your store to go online. Remember that simplicity is the key.
- Use extensions from trusted Developers only. You can see how many times an extension has been updated as well as what some of its customers are saying. You can also contact a Developer to get answers to these questions.
- If you're working with a Magento Developer, keep them included. It's essential to pick extensions that are easy to customize.
Step 3: Migrate Custom Code
There are close to one billion websites and we're sure that you can't find two sites that are 100% identical. This is even more true for ecommerce websites because they thrive on custom code. Chances are that your website is built upon custom code as well, so it's important that you migrate that code to Magento 2 in a safe way.
To make this process easier, Magento offers a relatively easy-to-use tool called Code Migration Toolkit. Still, Magento 2 brings a dramatically different structure and even though this portion of your website’s code can be transferred, this doesn’t mean that everyone can do it. Your Magento Developer will need to make some tweaks in order for this process to be completed.
Step 4: Move Your Website’s Data
The final step of migrating from Magento 1 to Magento 2 includes your website’s data. This includes all of your products, registered customers, different store configurations, custom-made promotions, and everything else. We are sure you’ve worked hard on obtaining this data so it’s invaluable to you and cannot be lost.
Luckily for everyone involved, this final step can be powered by a Magento 2 Data Migration Tool. Your Magento Developer can help you to transfer this data and adjust it to a new structure. You can make this process easier by listening to our previously mentioned advice, as well as removing unwanted products and categories, and everything else you feel is outdated or no longer needed.
In our experience, the process of migrating from Magento 1 to Magento 2 doesn’t stop when you migrate your data.
Make sure you have plenty of time to test-drive your new online store. In the majority of cases, you and your team will need some time to get comfortable with the new system.
The process of migrating to Magento 2 ends with formal testing. Try to get a lot of valuable feedback and incorporate necessary changes before your website goes live.
Even though the process of migrating from Magento 1 to Magento 2 demands a lot of time and effort – this is a highly rewarding process as well. Your goal shouldn't be to optimize your website to Magento 2 but to take advantage of the new platform and its highly capable features. In the end, your ecommerce website should be ready for any challenges the future might hold.