Magento 2 was introduced in November 2015, for the Magento Community Edition and Magento Enterprise Editions. The benefits of its new features make it a better overall platform and competes well with other platforms such as Shopify and WooCommerce. In early spring of 2016, the Magento platform held approximately 14% of the market share of the eCommerce platform market. Although Magento 1 provided a plethora of features, the flexibility aspect made for a non-user friendly and slower platform. Tools such as performance optimization, admin capabilities, and mobile-responsiveness were missing from the “out of the box” platform.
This article describes the pros and cons of Magento 2, which will provide you with information to decide on whether to do a Magento upgrade. We will also provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to install Magento 2, as well as a guide of how to update your Magento 2 installation.
Advantages of Magento 2
1. New default theme and Admin GUI
The new default theme, “Luma”, provides an eye-catching theme that is drastically improved compared to the previous “Madison Island” theme. The new modern admin panel navigation interface enables users to easily navigate through all parts of the admin panel and find information. The new theme includes new typography, tile structure, better performance and responsive images. Less time is required to manage the online Magento eCommerce store, and its user-friendliness helps new team members quickly learn how to operate the platform. Magento 2 has an easy to use drag-and-drop layout for editing. In addition, each admin panel can be personalized, which helps to increase the productivity of creating products, and managing orders, customer data, and products. The backend User Interface (UI) is also more user-friendly, and thus significantly improving the User Experience (UX). The menu system is grouped in two management functions: System and eCommerce. All of the menus used to manage the online store such as content, marketing, product, and report, are displayed in a clear flat menu and is organized in a logical manner.
2. Improved flexibility
The new platform structure has improved flexibility which consists of high code coupling, enabling developers to create complex features such as checkout, SMS, CRM, and sales. The new Magento 2 Dashboard shows average orders, lifetime sales, last orders, and last and top search terms. You can also view your revenue taxes, shipping, and quantities, and check best sellers and customers. There’s also a step-by-step product creation tool which enables easier uploading of new products. You can now also link videos and images to your products.
3. Better coding and testing
With an improved testing framework, Magento 2 enables developers to automatically test the generated functionality. Magento 2 Enterprise allows users to separate databases, i.e. You can have one MySQL database which is responsible for the content pages, category and product pages. And when a customer adds a product to their cart, you can separate this out, with the checkout process using a completely separate database. This helps to increase the site speed and improve performance, i.e. the checkout process won’t be slowed down by people that are just browsing – this improvement will become more apparent for large order sites that have over 50,000 orders per day.
4. Improved scalability and performance
Users of Magento 2 can create an updated eCommerce store while minimizing the data conflict counts and deliver efficient updates with faster query performance. Magento 2 also comes with full-page cache, where the refactored indexers will not block the processes. Studies have shown that a one-second delay in page load time can result in a 7% loss in sales conversions. Magneto 2 runs approximately 20% faster than Magento 1, which can lead to improved SEO and increased sales. The full-page caching improves page loading time of 1-2 seconds compared to 5-10 seconds, enabling it to better handle catalog pages without slowing down page load times. All of the content from a static page can be cached, thus increasing site performance and drastically reducing the server load. This makes the Magento 2 platform more scalable for large eCommerce stores.
You’ll also find all of the marketing tools that you’re already accustomed to from Magento 1, such as promotions, user content, communications, search, and SEO, all of which help to keep your customers loyal and promote your online eCommerce store. Rich snippets on the catalog pages are also available to help improve search engine results.
5. User-friendly checkout
The Magento 2 checkout process is better streamlined, making it easier and quicker for customers to navigate through from the cart to the completed order. The customizable checkout now requires less customer information and steps, therefore reducing the checkout time, increasing sales conversions and minimizing abandoned carts.
When the customer goes to the checkout, they are brought back to the default guest checkout, where they are prompted to enter an email address. If it matches an existing customer in the system, they are fast-tracked using the saved information. Guests can create a new account in one step through the thank you page, which can help encourage repeat customers. The checkout process has also been simplified by removing the credit card type (credit card type is based on the first digit: 3 = Amex; 4 = Visa; 5 = MasterCard).
7. Improve mobile-responsiveness
With more prospective customers using mobile devices, having a platform that is mobile responsive is extremely important to improving sales. The Magento 2 platform comes with newly designed mobile friendly themes, with integrated videos, simplified checkouts, and SEO-friendly features. The Admin panel for the front-end of the site is touch-screen friendly, meaning that you can manage your store on the fly. Starting April 21, 2015, Google started to give a higher search engine rankings for mobile-friendly stores.
Disadvantage of Magento 2
Having a pros list wouldn’t be complete without a cons list. And here they are below:
1. Magento 1 themes can’t be used
If you are already using the Magento 1 platform, moving it to the Magento 2 platform is possible, with data migration tools, however, the tools have yet to be fully developed. In addition, Magento 1 themes cannot be transferred to Magento 2, it will need to be built from scratch, making it an expensive endeavor.
2. Not all Magento extensions are available
If you are already using extensions for Magento 1, unfortunately, you cannot port them into Magento 2. You’ll need to purchase the extensions and integrate them into your Magento 2 platform, also adding to your overall costs.
3. Increased costs
Although Magneto Community Edition (CE) remains free, the Enterprise Edition (EE) has increased in price from $18,000 to $22,000 per year just for the license. Features of the Enterprise Edition includes enhanced site management and catalog management; customer loyalty programs; dynamic marketing and management features; and dedicated 24/7 support.
How to install Magento 2
1. Install from archive file
Download from the Magento download page.
Choose from different archive types (zip, gz, tar, bz2), with or without sample data. The installation Magento core code is under the /vendor directory, and updates can be made via Magento Admin.
2. Install via composer
You can also install via Composer, which is a tool for dependency management within PHP. Again, the installation Magento core code is under the /vendor directory, and updates can be made via Magento Admin. You will need authentication keys, and you will also need a Magento account in order to login. Once you’re logged in, go to “My Access Keys”, enter in a descriptive “Name”, and you’ll then be able to generate a new set of keys. Magento uses this approach since extensions that you buy from the marketplace can be made available to you through the Magento Admin interface.
Once prompted, your public key will be the username, and the private key is the password. Next, Magento is now ready for installation. Go through the Wizard Setup and install it.
3. Install via GitHub
This method involves cloning or downloading the release from the GitHub repository. The main difference between this method compared to the other two methods is that the Magento core code is stored under app/code, and not in /vendor. It’s not possible to update Magento through the Admin interface.
How to update your Magento 2 installation
1. Setup Wizard
Updating to Magento 2.0.2 (without sample data) requires a patch, MDVA-532, which can easily be downloaded and installed.
In the Admin panel, go to: System > Web Setup Wizard > System upgrade
2. Terminal - Without sample data
This method also requires an MDBA-532 patch. Enter these commands in the terminal:
composer require magento/product-community-edition 2.1.0 --no-update
Then run: php bin/magento setup:upgrade
3. Terminal - With sample data
If you have sample data, then you’ll need to update to 2.1.0 through Terminal. It’s only if you have the Enterprise edition with sample data can you update to 2.1.0 through the Setup Wizard.
Before you begin, be sure to backup your composer.json.
Enter the following into the terminal: composer require magento/product-community-edition 2.1.0 --no-update
Then enter: composer require magento/module-bundle-sample-data:100.1.0 magento/module-widget-sample-data:100.1.0 magento/module-theme-sample-data:100.1.0 magento/module-catalog-sample-data:100.1.0 magento/module-customer-sample-data:100.1.0 magento/module-cms-sample-data:100.1.0 magento/module-catalog-rule-sample-data:100.1.0 magento/module-sales-rule-sample-data:100.1.0 magento/module-review-sample-data:100.1.0 magento/module-tax-sample-data:100.1.0 magento/module-sales-sample-data:100.1.0 magento/module-grouped-product-sample-data:100.1.0 magento/module-downloadable-sample-data:100.1.0 magento/module-msrp-sample-data:100.1.0 magento/module-configurable-sample-data:100.1.0 magento/module-product-links-sample-data:100.1.0 magento/module-wishlist-sample-data:100.1.0 magento/module-swatches-sample-data:100.1.0 magento/sample-data-media:100.1.0 magento/module-offline-shipping-sample-data:100.1.0 --no-update
Then run: php bin/magento setup:upgrade
Test your site first in the dev environment before pushing it live. If you run into any issues, refer to the Magento DevDocs Technical bulletin.
Be sure to read our related blog post called, “The Process of Developing Magento eCommerce Websites”