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 with challenging projects such as Magento migrations you can still be in control. We’ll explain what the Magento migration process consists of, how to manage your Magento 1 to Magento 2 upgrade costs, advise on where it’s worth spending more, and what you can save your budget on. Plus, we’ll help you to understand your priorities better and give you a detailed breakdown of the standard Magento 1 to Magento 2 pricing.
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June 2020 was the last month when Magento 1 received support officially. And we can blame neither Adobe nor Magento for their decision. After all, the older platform has enjoyed a 1.5-year extension of its 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 to Magento 2. Or so you’d think. Looking at the eCommerce market right now, there are still plenty of stores running on various versions of Magento 1, including the Enterprise Edition.
This is the guide for them. We want to help store owners who are lagging behind to get up to speed, understand their migration challenges, and commit to M2 migration as soon as possible.
Magento 1 and Magento 2 are similar only on the outside. For an experienced Magento developer, there are at least 3 major factors that make the two platforms mutually incompatible:
- Different architecture
Magento 2 works on a different set of technologies. The official Magento development team added new frameworks and a Composer to the platform’s second version. In general, they rewrote a lot of the codebase in order to get better scalability, offer native support for some essential tools, get new security and usability features.
- 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. This may cause major Magento 2 migration issues. Getting an old extension to work on a new platform is more like building it from the ground up than porting an application from one platform to another.
- Core mechanics and integrations
And third, the Magento 2 dev team devoted a lot of time to improve the core mechanics and integrations. These include a 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?
If you’re wondering how much does a Magento 2 migration cost, first take a look at this Magento Migration Plan to get a 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, explains the Magento 2 migration timelines, and helps keep everyone on the same page.
If we simplify it a bit, there are 5 main Magento 2 migration steps:
- 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 its 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 them.
Based on the hours you get, you can then calculate how much you’ll need to budget for each step and where you can cut down your expenses.
Step 1. Rework Your User Experience
Magento migration is an intricate and time-consuming process, this explains the time frames that are required and the rather high cost to upgrade to Magento 2. 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 have.
But let’s look on the bright side. Migration to Magento 2 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 your theme design mistakes as it takes to implement the old design into the new migrated store.
Migrating your old theme to the new store means reworking CSS and HTML assets, re-applying and testing the new layout, and manually handling graphical assets in order to make them work in a completely new environment. So it makes sense to change some things around if needed.
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, the team analyzes customer behavior, business processes, and the buyers’ journey map.
Besides making the store mobile-friendly, the UX stage also involves:
- getting the site up and speed up Magento;
- tailoring the navigation to the mobile user needs;
- building in best practice solutions in remarketing;
- getting customer personalization and mobile-first features in;
- working to improve Magento search capabilities to suit users and search engines;
- reworking and optimizing the Checkout.
2020 was the beginning of a new decade and this decade brought us new accents in the eCommerce user experience standards. 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. This 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 the UX changes. If you already understand which parts of the store require your attention and can describe the scope, the development team will be able to give you a 50% more precise estimate of the duration of this 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, 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, the design is everything. This means Magento commerce 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 are gaining popularity;
- vivid colors are getting used more often;
- stores are not afraid of bold design decisions.
Other 2021 UX\UI trends in eCommerce 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 the 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. This implies using original photos and easily recognizable visuals instead of stock photos on which 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, whether it’s readable and concise.
The UX and Design steps are closely connected. During the UX step, we are wireframing and drawing whereas during the Design step we implement what we’ve created, sometimes in 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 development 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 process which takes roughly 2-4 months. During this time, the hired developer team needs to carefully migrate all the features that will be kept or added. They also install and test new Magento 2 extensions for compatibility, eliminate any conflicts (and there are always Magento migration problems with conflicts), as well as 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 are compatible with Magento 2 and 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 create custom code, build everything, and test it for bugs and compatibility issues. Backend work also includes 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 the features 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 the time to deliver 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 on 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 these hours in half if you decide to reduce the number of customizations to the bare minimum. However, there are more ways to cut costs.
Based on our experience, most customers have to spend around 100 hours on the customization of the extensions that were migrated to Magento 2. 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 simply 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 for the sake of making 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 mostly deals with 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.
- 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, each project is individual. 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.
Each project comes with its own set of challenges. We wanted to give you a few examples to demonstrate how different effort distribution can really be.
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 the frontend and quality assurance works. The backend portion 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, so we wanted 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 work 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
This is another migration project with a large chunk of effort dedicated to customizations. The main challenge here was to correctly move the previous functionality to the Magento 2 platform. It was not an easy task since the store was quite old and had a ton of unique features that required our utmost attention to properly 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 the store on a new platform. The work 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 it on an extremely tight budget.
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 be postponing 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 from 1 to 2 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 closer look at your store and decide whether you want something changed in it. After all, this is the most convenient time for you to do any design or UI/UX changes, taking advantage of this Magento 2 migration benefit. Note that 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;
Then, make a Magento 2 migration checklist of your goals (better to 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 the UX job. This means you are the one who is going to make all the UX decisions. While it’s a good idea to involve the store owners in 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 the mistakes that 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 have 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 for your theme will have to go.
You are limited to whatever you can find on the 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 layouts that you might need 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’d like to have for your layout. This means you’ll have to settle for a less visually attractive theme but that has everything you need. Or most of it. So, 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 with 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 on the Magento Marketplace. While it’s a really big number, we don’t recommend that you install more than 10. Going overboard will bring glitches that you won’t be able to fix by 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: the Magento Data Migration Tool. It’s a good solution for Magento database migration and for moving 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, orders, logs, or customer profiles. If you’d like to forgo migration and just add the 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 migration budget. 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, the chances are that you don’t need to worry about this step.
Conclusions: Ways to Mitigate Magento 2 Migration Costs
Based on what we described above and on our expertise, 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 the 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 migration 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 making 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 be 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.
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 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 the data structure inconsistencies, differences in the architecture, library and platform capabilities, among other things.
We think that the Magento 2 migration cost in 2021 will slightly increase because of the hype around the end-of-life support for the first version of the platform that occurred in the summer of 2020.
Those online store owners who delayed the inevitable move should hurry up unless they wish to risk falling behind on security.
With a plethora of Magento agencies out there, it’s usually tricky for business owners to find the right partners to entrust with a loss-free store migration at an adequate price. Onilab’s team has experienced and certified developers and competent talented UX/UI designers with over a dozen successful Magento migration projects in our portfolio.
Our team consists of professionals who know all the peculiarities of both Magento 1 and Magento 2 like the back of their hands. This means that we won’t be wasting your time as we already know all the roadblocks and bottlenecks of this complex process.
You can count on an individual approach to your project, timely feedback and reports, as well as on advice from the pros as we go. Furthermore, we know a great deal about creating progressive web applications and can enhance your store with a PWA alongside its migration to M2.
Thus, we offer you our expertise and a skilled hand at moving your eCommerce store to Magento 2 as smoothly as possible, making it better than it was before. We’re devoted to delivering high-quality results in due time and are available to support your store after its release!
We still have several slots for Magento website migration projects for 2021, so get in touch, and let’s discuss your Magento 2 migration.