New customers frequently ask what our Magento optimization process looks like. We are excited to dive deeper into the intricacies of how we work and describe every challenge and every aspect of our process.
Doing More With the Right Approach
With 8 years of experience under the belt, we’ve cultivated and emphasized an effective Magento optimization work process.
- We prepare a first-glance report of your Magento store to find the most obvious performance issues and point them out for you.
- Then we do a deep code bottleneck audit (25-40 hours) which includes an actionable list of issues and instructions on how to fix them. You also get an estimate of how long it will take us to fix individual issues.
- You use the review to either speed up Magento with us or go to another team of your choice. The review will guide them step by step, even if they are not as familiar with Magento as we are.
A good process has 3 cornerstones:
- Value is a huge factor in whether our customers would like to work with us or with someone else. We create value in a number of ways. First of all, we offer a free of charge performance review of your store and give it to you, no strings attached.
Second, we deliver a larger in-depth code review with full frontend and backend audit. The report highlights all performance issues and explains how to fix them. If you want us to be an independent audit team, that’s fine. If you’d like to speed up Magento with us, we offer our expertise.
- Transparency. We are extremely open to what each developer does on the project right now. The customer has access to the Jira Kanban board and can create tasks, prioritize issues, and message developers directly.
We believe that open communications channels build the trust that is necessary for success.
- Results are everything. We know that e-commerce is a fast-moving industry and we want to be fast, too. We usually begin work within 3 days.
Our results are based on real business goals: more users, better Google rank, increased conversions, better user experience – things that matter and bring in money.
Working Smart vs Working Late
We’ve monitored the competitors and our own team and built a vast database of Magento optimization challenges. Each of them can transform into a potential roadblock. Solving these challenges has since become our highest priority. Among the most common for Magento development projects are these 5 challenges.
Challenge 1. Lack of Attention to KPIs and Key Business Metrics
Business owners and developers think different. Where the techies focus on performance challenges and new and shiny tools, business owners center around return on investment, KPIs, conversions, and engagement.
This difference in key values creates an impassable rift between the two groups of people who need to work together. This tug-of-war leads to a process that is heavily skewed to one side – most frequently, the tech one.
How we solve it: We know what businesses need to stay competitive, successful, and effective. During the optimization process, we emphasize the tasks that help them live up to their fullest potential. Talking to the business owners, we learn their unique business challenges and solve them together.
Challenge 2. Fixation on Tech to the Detriment of Business Goals
Much like the previous point, this challenge leads to teams focusing their attention anywhere except on the most pressing business issues. Optimization for the sake of optimization doesn’t make any sense.
The end goal of any Magento optimization process is more sales, increased organic traffic from search engines, better user experience, and faster load times – everything with the goal to entice shoppers to bring their business to you and not to the competition.
Instead, developers fall into the same pit as any engineer that wants to flex their muscles. They become too excited with shiny new tools, new framework opportunities, cloud services, and environments forgetting that the end goal is an effective business.
How we solve it: There is no point in fixating on cool new features, frameworks, and tools while business goals suffer. Experimenting with different approaches, new virtual machines, cloud services, and database engines can become an extremely expensive endeavor for the business owner. Growing as a team is awesome. We just don’t do it at our customers’ expense.
Challenge 3. Breaking a Major Feature While Fixing a Minor Issue
Magento optimization is not a straightforward process. During heavy debugging, it’s extremely easy to add new bugs or completely break something big. Major projects often have a lot of custom code that is highly complex, has obscure dependencies and hidden interconnections with other subsystems.
Optimization involves rewriting the existing code, adding brand new lines of code, fixing bugs and glitches, and integrating third-party services into your store. As an example, one of our customers came to us with a completely broken Cart functionality. Turns out, an unlucky code merge resulted in an elusive mistake. An unrelated Read More feature on the page broke Add to Cart functionality.
How we solve it: The optimization process is so delicate that it’s extremely easy to break something big while working on a small fix or a feature. We review every change we make, do extensive regressive testing and merge audits.
Challenge 4. Poor Estimates and Planning
Sometimes management just asks the team to make extremely precise estimates too early into the development. This is an especially prevalent trend with top management where estimates lose their initial meaning and start to mean plans.
In a capable team, an estimate is exactly that: something that you expect to be true but allow certain room for adjustment in case your evaluation was wrong. This is how we do it separating planning and estimates into two separate activities to keep budget constraints, project timeframe, and other resources.
How we solve it: Our estimates are a result of careful research and lots of experience. In contrast to other teams, we don’t give an estimate without studying your store first. You can also see which tasks take more time and which will take less: each estimate consists of a whole list of improvements that are carefully documented and described. You always know which list item pertains to a specific challenge and how long it takes us on average to deal with it.
Challenge 5. Lack of Transparency and Effective Communication
Never take good communication for granted. It’s an independent and hard to master skill that makes work inside the team efficient, fast, and problem-free. The ability to understand customer vision, discuss ideas, and brainstorm solutions requires years of teamwork and experience.
Magento optimization is less customer-dependent compared to software development but even then it often involves major improvements in navigation structure, content layout, loading processes, search functionality, and other mission-critical features. Inability to communicate clearly concerning these vital UX elements will lead to a problematic project.
How we solve it: We know how to manage customer expectations, create a communication plan to deal with potential challenges, and work on user engagement and stakeholder involvement in the development process. Even though we have all the necessary skills to work independently from your team, Onilab customers often take an active part in directing the team efforts, creating and prioritizing tasks for the developers, and discussing issues.
Offering frequent progress updates and easy access to the project kanban board we provide transparency and establish trust between the team and the customer.
The 101 Challenges
Good Magento performance is hard. Like any software development project, it’s prone to a thousand challenges.
Choosing the right team for Magento optimization is hard. We know this better than anyone else. The potential investment of both time and money scare off Magento store owners. That’s why we think it’s important to explain how we do things differently and what to expect.
I personally think that getting a detailed code review (backend+frontend) before you can commit to a team is a huge factor. You pay a little to get a lot and then decide if the value is good enough for close teamwork.