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Magento / 17.03.17

Most common mistakes with Magento 2 websites and how to avoid them

Magento 2 is a high-powered, modern and flexible platform enabling ecommerce businesses to deliver innovative integrated omnichannel consumer experiences. This is thanks to Magento 2’s groundbreaking performance levels, vast scalability and almost endless customisation capabilities. However, if best practices are not followed and inexperienced ecommerce developers overlook key features and make false assumptions about the platform, you won’t get the best out of Magento 2 and you’ll run into problems.

As specialist developers of Magento and Magento 2 ecommerce websites, we come across a lot of avoidable issues on ecommerce stores whilst carrying out website audits. Here we highlight the most common mistakes made with Magento 2 websites and how you can avoid them:

Key takeaways for business owners

This blog discusses the most common mistakes made when using the Magento 2 platform. Here’s a quick snapshot of these mistakes and the key takeaways:

  • Treating Magento 2 like Magento 1 – don’t make assumptions about the platform based on previous knowledge of M1. Be aware of the features available on M2 to avoid misconfiguration.
  • Killing of the cache – only use trusted third-party integrations or experienced development teams to avoid issues with Magento 2’s full page cache capabilities.
  • Not thoroughly configuring your site – follow best practices and recommended configuration processes and carry out extensive testing.
  • Overlooking the role of package management – be sure you’re utilising the benefits of the package management software available to ensure consistency and streamlined ability to upgrade components.

Thinking M2 is M1

When migrating Magento stores over to Magento 2, many businesses carry out projects according to how they were implemented with Magento 1. This mistake occurs when merchants don’t fully understand the updates, features and improvements on the Magento 2 platform and make assumptions that prove harmful to the functionality of ecommerce stores.

Here are some common mistakes that happen when making assumptions about Magento 2 based on previous knowledge of Magento 1:

Not respecting hosting differences/requirements
Full page cache is available in Magento 2 out of the box for both versions (Community and Enterprise), whilst the addition of using Varnish cache is available to users with minimal integration. However, we still see examples of Varnish being misconfigured which leads to a massive impact on the performance and scalability.

On Magento 1, it’s accepted best practice to configure the web server(s) to serve traffic from the base folder of the project. This isn’t the case with Magento 2. There are added security gains by configuring the web server(s) to serve traffic from the ring-fenced /pub folder.

Implementing bespoke code for features that already exist
Our audits often reveal cases of bespoke code being implemented for features that already exist in Magento 2. Your developers should make you aware of all the features available out of the box, so that time and resources aren’t wasted on unnecessary and conflicting coding.

Killing of the cache

This is another mistake that is often caused by a lack of expertise. Magento 2’s full page cache capabilities (utilising Varnish cache) is a huge advantage for ecommerce businesses and enables high performance on ecommerce stores, enhancing the customer experience. This advantage is negated when businesses don’t follow best practices and too often we see full page cache being hindered or even worse, made completely ineffective. How does this happen? Here are the common causes:

  • Third-party integrations from untrusted sources and not via the Magento Marketplace.
  • Bespoke plugins and customisations.

We always recommend using trusted sources and third-party integrations known to be compatible with Magento 2. There are so many great Magento extensions and integrations available out of the box and through Magento Marketplace. The source of these mistakes is cutting corners (and perceived costs), but this will cause you issues and actually cost you money in the long run.

Lack of thorough configuration

Below are some of the most common issues we see with configuration on Magento 2 websites:

  • Tax
  • Usage of flat tables
  • Indexing modes
  • Not removing default text

Tax

A common error on Magento 2 ecommerce stores is incorrect tax configuration. This is often down to a lack of expertise in this area and it can cause a lot of problems for merchants in the short and long term. This can easily be validated by checking the configuration in the admin at Stores > Tax Rules.

Usage of flat tables

Magento has a complex database structure that enables flexibility in the data that can be stored, this however makes for resource intensive queries when the catalogue size grows. The Flat Tables mode deals with this challenge by mirroring the data in a query efficient structure. It is best to switch to this mode at the start of a project as switching later can have adverse affects that would need debugging.

Indexing modes

Indexing is another Magento mechanism to ensure data can be retrieved in the most performant way possible. The default indexing configuration mode of “Update on Save” means that indexed data is updated at the point the catalogue data is saved. When frequent changes are being made to the catalogue this can have an adverse affect on performance. It is better to use the “Update by Schedule” mode, which offsets the changes to the indexed data until a later time (this should be within one minute depending on configuration).

Not removing default text

It might sound like an obvious one, but this simple and common error can be avoided by doing the necessary testing to make sure default text is not left in on any pages. It’s a case of improving attention of detail, going through your content in an efficient manner and ensuring numerous sets of eyes check and test your website’s pages.

Incorrect usage of the package manager (Composer)

Composer is PHP software for managing code components and their dependencies. A common oversight is not utilising Composer for third-party code. Composer usage promotes good practice around versioning of modules and their dependencies, specifically via “Semantic Versioning”. Even worse, though, is when third-party code extensions are manually edited. The impact is that upgrades and patches become much more difficult and, in some cases, it prevents upgrades all together.

There’s an infamous mantra amongst ecommerce developers, which is: “Don’t edit the core.” Well, this goes for third-party extensions too. It reduces the agility of your websites and results in security and stability risks. Functionality can always be customized, but this needs to be implemented in the correct way so as not to block upgrade paths.

Frontend theme performance neglected

Some brands become fixated on certain aspects of theming and forget about performance. As part of our website performance audits, we utilise many tools including Google PageSpeed. This offers simple suggestions such as reducing the size of images and other elements, in order to ensure that transfer of data remains fast and performance is high. Some recommendations can often be solved through default Magento 2 functionality that merely needs enabling, such as minifying JS and CSS.

Lack of monitoring

It may sound like common sense, but the lack of adequate monitoring is a regular oversight by ecommerce businesses and is hugely damaging. Inadequate monitoring of store functionality, security and performance levels means there’s a lack of visibility and a high chance of errors going unnoticed.

There’s no excuse for not properly monitoring your ecommerce website, as it should be at the forefront of operations to ensure you best represent your brand and products. Attention to detail is critical for brand reputation and customer trust.

We recommend New Relic, which is a comprehensive website monitoring tool. It sits on the infrastructure, monitoring the server, applications and performance – including how the consumers experience your website pages. There are settings that provide you with error thresholds and alerts, to flag up any issues with your ecommerce store.

Wrap up

Most perceived errors with Magento 2’s functionality are in fact issues that can be easily avoided by adhering to best practices. Some issues are harder to rectify than others, especially coding issues, so the importance of avoiding these common mistakes with Magento 2 shouldn’t be underestimated. The key to getting the best out of Magento 2 and its industry-leading performance and functionality is fully understanding the platform, not making assumptions based on Magento 1 and working with experienced and specialist developers.

Want to learn more about improving your ecommerce website? Read our handy blogs below:
Biggest Missed Opportunities in Ecommerce Revealed
6 Strategic Ways to Improve Your Ecommerce Store’s Performance
6 Ways to Streamline Your Customer Checkout to Increase Conversions

Space 48 is an UK-based ecommerce consultancy and Magento agency. Our technical experts are an authority on Magento 2 and our strategists work with businesses to improve their ecommerce stores and develop award-winning ecommerce websites. Why not get in touch with us and we can arrange an audit of your existing ecommerce store to help pinpoint the areas of your site’s that could be improved?

Download our free CEO’s guide to Magento 2

Tony Brown
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Tony Brown

Technical Director at Space 48
Involved in ecommerce for over 15 years. Developing on Magento since 2008. Magento Master, conference speaker, and co-organiser of Mage Titans.
Tony Brown
Follow me

Tony Brown

Involved in ecommerce for over 15 years. Developing on Magento since 2008. Magento Master, conference speaker, and co-organiser of Mage Titans.

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