This article will explain the ins and outs of Magento 2 migration, and why it’s a good idea to consider Magento 1 to Magento 2 migration now. We’ll try to help you understand if the move makes sense for your specific business. We’ll also describe the standard migration process by breaking it down into the tasks involved and the likely amount of time the migration process will take.
The Magento team terminated official support of the platform’s first version in June 2020. Yet the number of stores that are still up and running on Magento 1 is quite high. So should these business owners be thinking about Magento 2 migration?
The Benefits of Magento
Magento is a platform used for building highly customized and large ecommerce stores.
Although it has a rather complex architecture (which explains its tricky development and maintenance), the platform offers practically no limits when it comes to building something custom and unique. As a result, it offers a lot more than other ecommerce platforms such as Shopify.
Magento is an extremely versatile platform, where you can implement any functionality you like. Yes, it requires a team of experienced developers. But whether it’s boosting site speed, enhancing the search, reworking the design, or building a Magento 2 PWA, site improvements using progressive technology can certainly make a change for the better — even if we’re talking about “heavy” stores with non-standard design and non-typical storefronts.
Issues Surrounding Magento 2 Migration
The major point of contention surrounding Magento 1 to Magento 2 migration is that Magento 1 and Magento 2 have very little in common. And if a store is up on Magento 1 (usually a big one that’s been operating online for years), it will take a lot of effort and time to migrate it to Magento 2.
Whether you like it or not, most of the code will need to be rewritten. And you’ll have to deal with Magento extensions, plugins, compatibility issues, data migration, and so forth — all which is very challenging.
Intimidated by the complex, lengthy process and the possible costs involved, it’s no wonder numerous store owners have decided to postpone their Magento 1 to Magento 2 migration. Many have even started to look for other, less complex platforms to move to instead. Others are choosing to leave things as they are.
But sticking with Magento 1 isn’t recommended. Investing in Magento 2 migration makes sense for one reason in particular, which was mentioned above: the official Magento team has decided to terminate support for Magento 1. This means that, from June 2020, there will be no more security patches, no more updates — nothing. As a result, Magento 1.x is becoming more and more out of date by the month.
The Advantages of Magento 2 Migration
There’s no reason an online store can’t function perfectly well on Magento 1. But there are increasing disadvantages and risks in relying on outdated software. Security is becoming more and more of an issue, so it’s important to keep a site up to date for that reason alone — especially when you’re handling credit cards. And outdated software is less and less compatible with the modern code environments in which online stores live.
By migrating from Magento 1 to Magento 2, site owners can mitigate large data leaks and credit card fines with a timely upgrade from an outdated platform.
Moreover, the migration can mean that it’s time for:
- a redesign according to recent design trends and a new store look (since moving the old theme will take almost as long as creating a fresher one from scratch)
- getting rid of loads of unnecessary data and unused logs
- enhancing the store with new advanced features and Magento extensions
- rebuilding the storefront to a progressive web application to reach utmost site optimization and a better user experience
As you can see, Magento 2 migration can be an opportunity to change things for the better — especially keeping in mind how sweepingly m-commerce is picking up steam.
Should I Upgrade to Magento 2 Now?
If you’re a Magento 1 store owner who’s in two minds whether it’s worth it or not, you have to understand how Magento 2 migration will affect your business and how much it will cost. So take some time to give answers to the following six questions.
1. Do you lack any features that Magento 1 doesn’t have?
Magento 1 is a long-established platform with plenty of extensions, themes, and ready-to-use solutions that you can implement right away. Unfortunately, core Magento is no longer receiving new features.
In addition to that, Magento 1 extension developers won’t be updating their products to add new features. Your only alternative is developing the required functionality yourself.
2. Will you migrate to Magento 2 eventually?
Most businesses will move to Magento 2 eventually. They just want to delay this move for one reason or another. But you have to understand that staying with Magento 1 will cost you a lot of money in terms of support and development. And the longer you wait, the more you might eventually end up spending.
3. Does your store’s design look up to date?
If your design patterns are outdated and don’t meet online retail requirements anymore, it’s reasonable to update your website design along with Magento 2 migration, eliminating a vast amount of work. Maybe currently your website has many UX\UI mistakes you want to fix? It’s counter-productive to spend money on a Magento 1 store if you’re going to spend more money on a Magento 2 migration sooner or later.
And if your store’s mobile version is far from perfect (such as being slow, not user-friendly, hard to navigate, and so on), you’re already losing sales.
With Magento 2, it’s possible to build progressive web applications that optimize your store’s mobile and desktop versions. PWAs work fast and can have UX and UI that look a lot like a native application. For example, check out the series of screenshots below, illustrating mobile-friendly layouts.
Screenshots taken on the official Pet City website
4. Are you satisfied with your store’s performance?
The illusion of stability has been the downfall of a lot of successful businesses. Move with the times. Plan ahead.
Again, mobile sales are currently going up. Therefore, rethink your store to stay competitive and improve conversions across all devices.
Also, bear in mind the Core Web Vitals changes that Google has recently introduced. Now, site usability highly influences your store’s ranking and can impact your SEO.
5. Do you want to implement new features in the future?
If there’s a chance you’ll want to add new features to your store in future, it’s worth investing in a new Magento 2 store, which will be much more future-proof. Anything you spend on Magento 1 at this stage will be wasted to some extent. Online stores are already implementing new technology that helps them sell additionally.
We’re talking AI-powered chatbots, product builders, virtual try-on, and so much more.
Screenshot taken on the official Mary Kay website
6. Do you feel concerned about payment data security?
If you’re not concerned about payment data security, you should be! Magento 2 is now more secure, less buggy, and more predictable than Magento 1. The focus of the Magento community has long switched to Magento 2. Magento 1 gets less attention every year, which means fewer bug fixes, worse security, more liability for you as a business that handles customer data.
Besides, in the long run, it will be impossible to use PayPal checkouts, as well as the checkout of other PCI-compliant systems, if your Magento store hasn’t got this feature in its toolkit.
Food for Thought
If you’ve answered “yes” to any of these six questions, it’s better to upgrade sooner than later. The longer you wait, the more expensive the Magento 2 migration becomes. You get fewer developers who offer Magento 1 support, fewer hosting options for stores that need older PHP versions, more security liabilities, and so on.
How Long Does Magento 2 Migration Take?
How long a Magento 2 migration will take depends on a lot of factors. Each case is individual, since all stores differ in size, design, feature stack, functionality, and so on. However, on average, the entire process takes somewhere around six to ten months. In the next section, we present a checklist that will help you plan out a Magento migration and determine how long the migration process might take.
A Brief Magento 1 to Magento 2 Migration Checklist
Here’s a short Magento 1 to Magento 2 migration checklist. It can help you get a better understanding of the standard process. The given timeframes are an estimate, as every migration project varies based on the store’s peculiarities.
Stage 1: Creating a Magento 2 Migration Plan
Of course, the very first step is devoted to planning the Magento 2 migration and the other works ahead. This is a very individual matter.
The scope of work ahead may seem immense. So, in order not to waste time and organize the future process properly, make sure to make a detailed list and set your priorities.
As an initial step, you should define your store from a technical perspective. Which features does it have? What modules does it use? What storefront theme is chosen? Would you like to make amendments to rework the customer journey?
By answering these questions and breaking down what you have now, you can determine which parts are essential, what needs to be changed, and what you can get rid of. This will help to estimate the required hours you’ll need for various specialists. We’re talking about creating new custom solutions, making a new design, and the hours for the migration itself.
Planning the Magento 2 migration with your specialists can take 50 to 100 hours.
Stage 2: Magento 2 UX and Store Layout
Every migration is a perfect opportunity to make changes for the better. It’s possible that your current design isn’t flawless in terms of usability. And usability does influence conversions. Thus, you can and should use this migration opportunity to improve navigation and the store’s layout in general.
User experience is the first point to rethink. What can be changed? Maybe you’d like to optimize your store even more to fit the needs of mobile shoppers? Or perhaps you can improve the look of your category and product pages by adding more user-friendly elements and a better navigation. Do you face the issue of abandoned carts at the checkout phase?
It obviously depends on what you have now and what you’d like to enhance. To understand that, you might need to:
- analyze the sales funnel and review underperforming sections
- make optimizations for the checkout and search capabilities
- develop mobile-first features and functionality
- implement personalization and re-marketing improvements
When you have a clear idea about your pain points and what you’re aiming at, the designers begin working on wireframes (each tailored to a specific device). This also includes time spent on reviewing and improving the currently used elements, menu, and navigation.
Usually, this stage takes about 100 hours. Indeed, it’s easy to expand the time spent on this stage when you add in other important goals. On the contrary, you can cut back if you opt for a ready-made Magento theme that answers to your needs instead of assigning this responsibility to a designer.
Stage 3: Crafting Designs for Mobile, Tablet, and Desktop
Even if you want your new store to look the same as the old one, there’s still a lot of work to be done. You have to understand that Magento 1 and Magento 2 are extremely different platforms, and it’s impossible to just move the old design to the new store without work.
It takes time and effort to carefully export and then import all the graphical elements from one store to another. Again, this can mean that it’s time for a thorough website redesign.
During the last few years, ecommerce has changed a lot. For example:
- stores get rid of bland or white backgrounds in favor of images that occupy huge parts of your screen
- stock photos or just modest-looking images get replaced with highly recognizable photos of brands and their products
- these images not only look good but are also designed to produce a bright emotional response from the customers
- the new store design is not afraid to experiment with extremely bright colors, animations, and eye-catching styles
There are still many stores with an old look, but there’s no reason to be one of them. Just keep in mind that there are drawbacks to that approach.
If you opt for a brand new design made especially for your store (rather than an out-of-the-box theme), add about 150–200 hours for the designers. Once again, there’s a workaround to reduce these hours: customizing a ready-made theme instead of redesigning the whole website from scratch.
Stage 4: Development (front end and back end)
After the designs are ready, the developers come in. Front-end and back-end development times depend on the number of third-party Magento 2 extensions you need to install in your store, the complexity of the Magento theme, the number of customizations and integrations.
Then there’s data migration that’s also no easy task. Finally, the process is finished with post-release tweaks and bug fixes.
Most development time is spent in the following areas.
Magento 2 Extensions
- finding and installing third-party Magento 2 extensions for your store to replace those used on Magento 1
- checking if these Magento extensions are compatible with one another
- creating new extensions for the functionality you can’t find in the Magento Marketplace
- testing how they work together and fixing incompatibility issues
Other Magento 2 migration tasks that take time
- creating new features that follow the designs
- creating custom functionality
- implementing any other front-end and back-end changes
- moving databases and logs
- configuring the server
- testing, and making sure the store works well on all devices
- testing the store again after the Magento 2 migration is complete.
The question of Magento 1 to Magento 2 migration will occur at some point, most probably very soon. Magento 1 hasn’t been supported officially for over a year at the time of writing, and is slowly “decaying”.
The bottom line is that Magento 1 will only get harder to maintain. So, to safeguard your online store, enhance its feature set, optimize its performance, and upgrade the look, it makes sense to start thinking about Magento 2 migration. And if your store is highly customized and massive, Magento 2 is your best choice.
In terms of migration deadlines, you can keep in mind a very rough estimate of six to eight months. But each case is individual, meaning that it varies based on how large and complex the store is initially, how big the planned changes are (apart from moving what you had), and which team you hire for the job.
Alex Husar, a CTO at Onilab with 8+ years of experience in Magento development and Salesforce. Alex is an expert both at full-stack dev and providing project-critical guidance to the whole team.