In business, it’s not always easy to plan your expenses accurately. Store owners often underestimate the complexity that goes with most IT projects. Due to their lack of experience in software development, they often don’t know how to effectively manage expenses and how to estimate development costs beforehand. This is also true for Magento migration services.
In this guide, we want to show you that even in challenging projects such as Magento migrations you can still be in control. We’ll show you what Magento migrations consist of, how to manage costs, where to spend more and where to save, and how to understand your priorities better.
Magento Migration 101: Learn Your Deadlines
2020 will be the last year when Magento 1 receives support. And we can blame neither Adobe nor Magento for their decision. After all, the older platform has enjoyed a 1.5-year extension of end-of-life date even though the feature updates ceased to come since mid-2014.
Five years of security patches and bug fixes has been more than enough time for everyone to move on to Magento 2. Or so you’d think. Looking at the eCommerce market right now, there are still plenty of stores running various versions of Magento 1.
This is the guide for them. We want to help store owners who are lagging behind get up to speed, understand their migration challenges, and commit to migration as soon as possible.
Why Migration Can Be Hard: Key Differences Between M1 and M2
Magento 1 and Magento 2 are similar only on the outside. For an experienced developer, there are at least 3 major factors which make two platforms mutually incompatible:
First, different architecture. Magento 2 works on a different set of technologies. In Magento 2, the developer team added new frameworks, a Composer, and in general rewritten a lot of the codebase in order to get better scalability, offer native support for some essential tools, get new security and usability features.
Second, mutual incompatibility of extensions and customizations. Magento 2 has grown too far apart from its predecessor to support backward compatibility for the majority of features. Getting an old extension to work on a new platform is more like building from the ground-up than porting an application from one platform to another.
And third, Magento 2 dev team devoted a lot of time to improve core mechanics and integrations (faster search – native Elasticsearch and Redis support, richer payment integrations, shorter out-of-the-box Checkout, Admin Panel UX gains, etc.)
In general, the two platforms are so different they might as well be two separate products. This is why Magento migration is hard. The effort of migrating a Magento 1 store to Magento 2 is huge, it requires an experienced Magento team and a lot of preparation.
So how much does it cost to migrate to Magento 2?
Managing Migration Cost: Working on the Ideal Migration Plan
Take a look at Magento Migration Plan to get the general idea of how any team will approach your migration. While a bit complicated, this plan is a good starting point. It offers a step-by-step action list and helps keep everyone on the same page.
If we simplify it a bit, there are 5 main steps to each migration:
- UX and design overhaul,
- extension setup and debugging,
- customizations, frontend and backend work,
- data migration,
- go-live and post-migration work.
In our opinion, this is the ideal migration plan: detailed, actionable, short. Each store will go through these steps in order to complete the migration.
Now let’s see which costs are associated with each step. We won’t operate with rigid numbers since labor costs are extremely different depending on where you live and who you work with. Our goal is to give you the rough scope of each step and how much time it will take to complete it.
Based on the hours you get, you can then calculate how much you’ll need to budget for each step and where you can save.
Step 1. Rework Your User Experience
Magento migration is an expensive and time-consuming process. Depending on the complexity of your store, we are looking at anything from 2 to 4 months of development. This is on average. The actual project length can extend to 7-9 months. It all depends on how complex and feature-rich your store is and how many developers you will use.
But let’s look on the bright side. Magento migration is a great opportunity to rethink your user experience, make changes to the places that underperform, introduce a new store design, or improve your Magento hosting infrastructure.
Don’t be afraid to shake things up a bit. Even if you just want your store to look exactly the same as before, we urge you to rethink your expectations. Why? Because it takes almost the same amount of effort to overhaul the store fixing all theme design mistakes as it takes to implement the old design for the new store.
Migrating your old theme to the new store means reworking CSS and HTML assets, re-applying and testing new layout, and manually handling graphical assets in order to make them work in a completely new environment.
This is also the step where you design your mobile and tablet version of the store, how they will work compared to the desktop version. During the UX phase, we analyze customer behavior, business processes, and the buyers’ journey map.
Besides making the store mobile-friendly, the UX stage also involves getting it up to speed: tailoring the navigation to the mobile user needs, building in best practice solutions in remarketing, getting customer personalization and mobile-first features in, improving search capabilities, and reworking and optimizing Checkout.
2020 is the beginning of a new decade and this decade brought us new accents in eCommerce user experience. Over time, the trends in mobile have been changing. Earlier, we had paid ads and mobile apps dominating the UX market, now it’s all about optimized mobile-first experiences, lightning-fast performance, and omnichannel thinking.
UX labor costs. It heavily depends on the amount of work but we are looking at – on average – 80-250 hours to analyze the store, suggest and implement all UX changes. If you already understand which parts of the store require your attention and can describe the scope, the developer team will be able to give you a 50% more precise estimate of the duration of the phase.
Ways to cut costs. You can obviously cut costs here if you skip store analysis, stick to minimal UX changes, and cut new features. You’ll still have to deal with at least 80 hours of UX specialist time dedicated to figuring out how mobile and tablet versions of the store are going to look like, which widgets to keep and where to place them.
UX Stage Cost
Based on the hourly rate, the UX stage will cost you anywhere between $1,200 and $20,000 ($15-50*80 or 250 hours).
Step 2. Create an Awesome Design
In eCommerce, design is everything – which means Magento migration is a great time to make your store prettier and better at a relatively low cost (since you’ll be redesigning it anyway).
There are a lot of changes in UX and design trends:
- white space is getting old,
- animations and cinemagraphs gain popularity,
- vivid colors get more use,
- stores are not afraid of bold design decisions.
Other trends to look out for:
- design attracts customers and drives focus towards your products,
- both design and UI work as a team to improve user experience,
- design becomes less restricted in use of new forms, colors, and images,
- stock images get replaced with real, eye-catching photos.
Forget stock images. This trend is dying in favor of original photography, pictures that are custom-made and speak directly for the brand. No more interchangeable guys and girls in generic decorations. The goal is to stand out as much as possible – which means using original photos and easily recognisable visuals instead of stock photos where everyone looks the same.
Web fonts get more love as well. They are easier to read, faster to load, and more diverse. Web designers pay a lot of attention to how the sales copy is formatted on the page, if it’s readable and concise.
The UX and Design steps are closely connected because during the UX step we are wireframing and drawing and during the Design step we implement what we created into the real thing. Or multiple things because we’ll need at least a few versions to choose from.
Design labor costs. Developing a new store design takes approximately 80-250 hours of developer time. This includes everything from the first template to the development and approval of mobile and tablet versions. Usually, store owners ask for at least two-three design iterations in order to have the freedom of choice.
Ways to cut costs. It’s obviously more cost-effective when you settle for the first design version since additional versions cost developer time. Bear in mind that even when you want to migrate your old design to Magento 2, the scope of work is still going to be significant.
Design Stage Cost
As for the UX stage, design takes roughly the same amount of time to complete. We are talking about anywhere between $1,200 and $20,000 ($15-50 hourly rate and 80-250 hours).
Step 3. Apply Frontend and Backend Changes
This is the main part of any Magento migration which takes roughly 2-4 months. This step is where the hired developer team needs to carefully migrate all the features we decided to keep – or to add – during the UX phase, install and test new Magento 2 extensions for compatibility, eliminate any conflicts (there are always conflicts), apply the mobile, tablet, and desktop design layouts.
Frontend and backend labor costs. Applying your new design for Magento 2 takes time. But the bulk of this work is making sure that your features work. This includes picking the right extensions from the Marketplace and making sure they work well together.
If we can’t find anything on the Marketplace, we have to develop a new custom extension. The more complex features you need, the more time it takes to build everything and test for bugs and compatibility issues. Backend work includes also developing appropriate functionality for extensions, getting integrations into place, etc.
It’s hard to estimate how much time this step takes. Although if you remember how much time it took to implement initially, you can get a rough estimate of your future costs. For example, a single feature that took you 10 hours to implement for Magento 1 will take 70-130% of time to implement for Magento 2. Get the same estimate for every feature and you’ll get the overall frontend and backend implementation time.
If you are unlucky and don’t have any previous data about your Magento 1 project, you’ll have to rely on the migration team to give you an up-to-date estimate.
Ways to cut costs. Frontend application time depends heavily on the complexity of your design. If it’s straightforward, frontend development time can be significantly reduced. Consider which extensions you want to keep. Making sure everything works as expected takes a lot of time. You can cut this time in half if you decide to reduce the number of customizations to the bare minimum.
Based on our experience, most customers have to spend around 100 hours on extension customization. This is, of course, an extremely rough estimate. Your mileage may vary.
Frontend and Backend Stage Cost
Frontend and backend development changes take up the bulk of all migration expenses. If the average implementation time is 2-4 months, then the average cost of FE and BE work is anywhere between $5,040 and $67,200 (168h*2*$15 or 168h*4*$100).
Step 4. Migrate Magento 1 Store Data
Data migration is the process of moving your old store data to Magento 2. There are 4 main entities that need to be moved:
- customer accounts,
- product information,
- data about orders,
- store configurations,
- extension custom data.
Data migration is an easy and straightforward step that you can easily accomplish with the Magento Data Migration Tool unless you have any kind of custom data in your tables. If you do, then the whole process becomes so much more complicated.
The standard Migration Tool will complete the migration but any custom extension data will need your special attention in order to make it work right in the Magento 2 store. You’ll also need to manually input extension custom data in order to import it into Magento 2.
Data migration labor costs. Each category here will roughly take 8 hours to complete. So if you decide to leave something behind – you save developer time and pay less. On average, data migration takes 20-40 hours to complete.
Ways to cut costs. You can even choose not to import anything. It’s possible to start your Magento 2 store without the data about customers, products, orders, logs, and store settings. But unless you move them over, is it even a migration project anymore?
Data Migration Stage Cost
Data migration is going to cost you around $300-$2,000 (20h*$15 or 40h*$50) depending on who you hire and the complexity of your dataset.
Step 5. Go-Live and Post-Release Support
This step is mostly polishing which means security and performance optimization, extended bug fixing, new extensions, and whatnot. Most of our customers use this opportunity to make their stores even better but we won’t include this step into our migration plan.
So How Much Does It Cost to Migrate to Magento 2?
- UX and Wireframes: 80-250 hours ($1,200-$20,000),
- Design: 80-250 hours ($1,200-$20,000),
- Frontend and Backend Customizations: 160-480 hours ($5,040-$67,200),
- Data Migration: 20-40 hours ($300-$2,000),
- Grand Total: 340-1020 hours ($7,740-$109,200).
As we’ve already said, all projects are different. That’s why we have such a big difference between the two estimates. The cost in dollars can also be ten times higher or lower, depending on who you work with.
Magento Migration: Project Examples
Each project comes with its own set of challenges. We wanted to give you a few examples to demonstrate how different effort distribution really is.
Project 1. Phone Accessories Store
This store migration includes an upgrade to fully functional Progressive Web Apps technology which adds a lot of additional time to frontend and quality assurance. Backend is also big thanks to the number of custom features we need to move over from Magento 1. The store places a huge focus on performance. We want to make sure the migration does not affect the speed in any way. Actually, the store is faster because of how Progressive Web Apps work.
Project 2. Customized Personal Accessories Store
Our next migration took 6 months and involved a lot of customization effort which was done alongside the migration that’s why you can see the backend taking up the lion’s share of the development time.
Project 3. Gardening Tools Store
Another migration with a large chunk of effort dedicated to customizations. The main challenge here was correctly moving the previous functionality to Magento 2 platforms. It was not an easy task since the store was quite old and had a ton of unique features that required our attention to migrate and fix bugs.
Project 4. A Feature-Rich Personal Label Store
This store has an extremely impressive customization constructor. Which, naturally, the team needed to migrate from Magento 1 to Magento 2. That’s not a small amount of effort and it took us 7 months, from September till March, to move, test, and release on a new platform. The effort here is more diverse thanks to a lot of frontend and backend challenges.
Now when we understand the whole scope of Magento migration, let’s find out if it’s possible to do on an extremely tight budget.
Migrating Magento on a $1000 Budget. Is It Even Possible?
Magento migrations can cost a lot. They can also cost less. It all depends on what you are willing to sacrifice. We understand that some of our readers might postpone migration because of budget constraints. In this section, we are going to see what migration on a tight budget looks like.
Let’s conduct a thought experiment. What happens when you want to migrate your Magento store on an extremely tight budget? We are talking about $1000-2000 dollars tight. Can Magento migration be that cheap?
What compromises are we going to make? Let’s find out!
Migration Step 1. UX on a Budget
Your migration starts with the UX part. As before, you are going to take a close look at your store and decide whether you want something changed in the store. After all, this is the most convenient time for you to do any design or UI/UX changes since after the migration is complete it will take a lot of effort to re-do stuff.
Our attention is glued to the key pages of the store (your customers visit these pages most often, these pages are also a vital part of your sales funnel):
- Product View,
- Category View,
- Shopping Cart,
Make a short list of your goals (better put it down in writing):
- decide whether you want to reposition any UI elements,
- add or remove certain features such as any customizations or useful extensions,
- change navigation and menus, footers, essential links,
- add new pages or remove old ones.
UX risk factors. If you are on a strict budget, you don’t have the luxury of hiring someone to do that job. Which means you are the one who is going to make all the UX decisions. While it’s a good idea to involve the store owner into the decision-making process – because they know how their business works! – there are downsides to that, too.
Magento store owners are not UX specialists and they will make mistakes someone with UX expertise will avoid. You’ll have to make critical decisions on where to put different UI blocks (bestsellers, categories, promotions) both for mobile, desktop, and tablet views (the layout is going to look different for every platform).
It’s hard to find a Magento 2 theme that would support 100% of all your UX needs. You’ll need to do your research and go through quite a few in order to find a theme that would be as close as possible to what you really need.
Migration Step 2. Design on a Budget
Much like UX, the design side of migrating Magento on a budget is going to take a few hits from the lack of funds. First of all, the custom design theme will have to go. You are limited to whatever you can find on Magento Marketplace or Theme Forest. Granted, there are dozens of decent themes there. Unfortunately, picking a theme you like might not be the best option.
Why? Because every theme is limited to how it was designed. Theme developers can come up with multiple layout versions but the theme is not entirely flexible and some layout will not be available.
This means that the biggest challenge of a non-custom design is to find a capable theme that would allow you to actually implement everything according to your vision.
Design risks. There’s a possibility that the theme you really like lacks some essential features that you need to implement for your layout. This means you’ll have to settle for a less attractive theme that has everything you need. Or most of it. A few design compromises are inevitable.
Migration Step 3. Frontend and Backend on a Budget
With a limited budget, you can afford to buy paid 4-5 extensions tops. An average extension costs between $30 and $300 with the median price somewhere around $80. Blowing all your budget on paid extensions will leave you nothing for other expenses.
You can, of course, increase the number if you go for their free alternatives but that doesn’t mean you should. You see, the more extensions you install the more bugs they can introduce. Test your extensions thoroughly to make sure the store doesn’t get broken somewhere. For example, when some extensions change the same part of the store in the Admin Area.
Extension setup risks. There are more than 2300 third-party extensions in Magento Marketplace. While it’s a really big number we don’t recommend that you install more than 10. Going overboard will bring glitches you won’t be able to fix yourself.
It’s almost never a smooth ride. Magento extensions always conflict with one another. Making them work is a huge part of any migration. But when you have a small number of extensions, bugs are easier to notice and fix. They will also be less severe than when you have dozens and dozens of extensions installed.
Migration Step 4. Data Migration on a Budget
Magento has a separate program to help you move data to the new store: Magento Data Migration Tool. It’s a good solution to move data but you need to know what you are doing in order to use it properly. For example, moving products with custom attributes requires manual editing using this file.
Data migration risks. You’ll need a lot of expertise to properly install and migrate Magento 1 data. Screwing up here will leave you with broken products, categories, or customer profiles. If you’d like to forgo migration and just add products manually to the new store, that’s a good opportunity to save money. You can save roughly 1 day for each entity that you are not going to migrate over to the new store.
Migration Step 5. Optimization & Security on a Budget
This step is optional – which means we are not going to include it into our $1000 budget migration. You’ll have to live with any bugs or errors you get after the migration.
Post-migration support is necessary for large Magento stores. If you don’t have a lot of extensions chances are you don’t need to worry about this step.
Ways to Mitigate Magento 2 Migration Cost
Here’s what we’ve learned about managing Magento 1 to Magento 2 migration cost:
- UX and wireframes will have to be simplified. You’ll have to make all UI/UX decisions and create the store from the ground-up. This is not always a good thing because of the possibility of making mistakes and creating non-optimal solutions.
- Design on a budget suffers from the same lack of customization options as the UX section. Sporting a tight budget, you are stuck with either a standard Magento theme or a pre-built Magento Marketplace theme with limited customization options. It would be a challenge to make your store look different from the other stores, not to mention make meaningful changes if they are not supported by your theme.
- Extensions. You’ll have to keep your third-party extensions as few as possible. First, because you don’t have a lot of money to buy more than 3 or 5 and second because not all extensions will be supported by your theme or compatible with one another.
- Data migration costs can be lower if you don’t need to drag your whole order/user/inventory history along, this is especially true for data related to third-party extensions because these can be time-consuming and tricky to export/import correctly.
- Post-release polishing is an optional thing that is not necessary for small or medium stores that don’t face extreme spikes in user activity due to seasonality or marketing events. This step is easy to save for later when you are bigger.
Magento 1 to 2 Migration Cost: Summary
Businesses have always struggled with accurate cost planning. It’s an old and hard challenge for any store owner, too, especially when we are talking about complex projects such as Magento migrations.
The more customizations and extensions you have, the bigger your budget should be. In order to create a more or less precise picture of your future data migration, you’ll have to factor in all data structure inconsistencies, differences in the architecture, library and platform capabilities.
We think that Magento 2 migration cost in 2020 will slightly increase because of the hype around the end-of-life support for the platform.
Those online store owners who delayed the inevitable move should hurry up unless they fall behind on security.
We still have several slots for Magento migration projects for 2020, so get in touch and let’s discuss your store migration.