How to Prep Magento for Peak Performance During the Holidays

How to Prep Magento for Peak Performance During the Holidays

prep Magento

4 Tips on How to Prep Magento for Peak Performance During the Holidays.

Summer is flying by and it’s time to plan for the 2017 holiday shopping rush. As experienced Magento developers, we are very familiar with site prep for the holidays. We’ve had merchants come to us with sites that crashed under the traffic a holiday promotion generated. We’ve seen merchants experience 2/3 more traffic or process double (or triple) the number of transactions during November and December compared to the rest of the year.

Notably, the Magento Business Intelligence group found that merchants acquire up to 59% more customers during the holidays compared to the rest of the year. That’s a lot of new site traffic. Can your Magento site handle that big of an uptick in new visitors? With nearly 60% more new customers preparing to visit your website in a couple months, it would be smart to run performance tests now. Here are four tips for Merchants on how to prep your Magento site for peak performance during the holidays.

Tip 1 – UX/UI Optimization

Not only is site traffic at it’s peak during the holiday season, but customers’ tolerance and attention levels are low. Make your site easy to navigate and streamline the browsing experience for customers by removing conversion blockers. Bounce rates are naturally higher during the holidays as people quickly window shop and bargain hunt. Optimize poor performing pages, ensure page load times are at their best, and keep you product offering up to date to avoid high bounce rates.

A quick way to optimize under-performing landing pages is to identify your lowest bounce rate landing page(s) in Google Analytics. Analyze those lowest bounce rate pages and try to find ways to improve engagement across your site. Of course a more thorough review of your shopping experience (complete with A/B tests) would be the most beneficial for optimization. However, there are valuable opportunities available for improvement that can be discovered through a Google analytics review.

The maintenance of products and pricing is also vital. Keep catalog images, product descriptions, prices, inventory, and shipping rates clear and updated. Ensure your pricing is competitive. Have import/export templates set up. Have pricing and inventory ready to be updated on the fly. That way, you’re not scrambling when a competitor suddenly has a flash sale. Make sure your strongest products (best selling, best price, or highest inventory) are easy to find for customers on your category and landing pages. In addition, make sure your up-sell, cross sell and related products are all setup and relevant to each other.

Don’t Ignore Mobile Traffic

At least a third of your traffic during the holidays is going to be from mobile devices. Mobile sales will account for more than half in most retail industries. Perform a thorough, unbiased review of your mobile shopping experience from the homepage down through the checkout process. Remove any conversion blockers, consolidate any redundant pages or steps in the checkout. Do not mark any checkout fields as required unless they really are required. Finally, make sure chatbot and email sign-up pop-ups are disabled on mobile!

Tip 2 – Page Load Speed Optimization


47% of shoppers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less.


40% of shoppers abandon websites that take more than 3 seconds to load.


79% of shoppers who are dissatisfied with website performance are less likely to buy from the same site again.

If your site shows signs of performance issues and slow load times now, how will it perform during peak traffic times come November? It’s critical to perform site load tests before the real traffic influx begins. Contact your hosting company before performing any tests and work with them on identifying any possible issues with server resources. Services such as Montis and Magento Speed Test are great for running multi-user and longer period tests as opposed to a single page speed check.

It’s also important to note that page load times and user engagement metrics contribute to your PPC quality score. Those holiday PPC campaigns could take a hit if load times are poor. Key engagement metrics to monitor are bounce rate, time on page, time on site, and pages/session. A fast site will also help your PPC cost-per-click and impressions. In addition, we’ve also seen load times have a positive or a negative effect on SEO. Page load speed is critical across the board for the success of your site.

Tip 3 – Code and Security Optimization

Magento can be a very involved platform to work with. Most Magento instances are so customized that there is no other site exactly like another. That dynamic creates several potential points of failure if your code and server configuration are not optimized to work together. Module conflicts, unoptimized CSS/JS, and any potential server-side issues need to be identified and resolved. Unresolved issues can become detrimental during an otherwise very profitable time of the year.

Site security is also critical for overall site performance during the holidays and always. If your Magento site isn’t upgraded to the latest version or is missing Security Patches, you are at risk for security issues. We’ve encountered several merchants over the last year or so who have ignored security or bug patches. Or, merchants have severely delayed the upgrading of their Magento sites. By ignoring Magento Security Patches or avoiding updates, merchants are opening themselves up to a much larger problem. Problems like legal indemnification since many maintain publicly that they are PCI compliant while leaving gaping security holes in their site’s infrastructure.

Beyond the cost and headache of what a data breach could do, merchants could lose a solid portion of customers. In fact, 31% of customers terminated their relationship with a targeted business after a breach was discovered. No merchant wants to be the next Target fail. Make sure your Magento site is upgraded or patched as soon as possible.

Tip 4 – Review and Test

It’s important to be proactive about performance testing to be prepared well in advance of holiday traffic. Merchants need to test the shopping experience on their site.  Be sure that the browsing process, shopping cart and checkout is a seamless experience for your customers.  

Review your site analytics. Verify that key engagement metrics such as bounce rate, time on page, time on site, and pages/session are performing well. Look for dips in data and bottlenecks. Pull data from the 2016 holiday season. Review what issues you had and where your site could improve. In addition, note what worked well for your site and look for ways to improve based on positive metrics. Analyzing your own data can save a lot of time and solve a lot of puzzles when it comes to customer experience and site performance issues.

Perform load tests and user-based browsing tests to make sure your site is ready for any expected (and unexpected) traffic spikes. Performance tests and implementation can be a test and tune process. We’ve worked with merchants with complicated, and not so complicated, infrastructures. It can take time to locate the cause of issues and bottlenecks. Sometimes “simple” tasks can cause hiccups that take time to diagnose and find the ideal configuration. Performance tests need to be conducted long before the holidays to be successful and in place before the traffic picks up.

Get started now – or very soon.

If you are missing patches or haven’t reviewed your analytics in a while, don’t fret. Merchants still have time to get started on performance testing to get an idea of what they will need to have in place come October and November. Contact us to learn more about performance testing options or to get help with your UX/UI optimization. Or, give us a call to talk to a Magento expert: 513-469-3345.

Magento 2 Community Edition vs Enterprise Edition

Magento 2 Community Edition vs Enterprise Edition

By the InteractOne Team

Questions we consistently hear from merchants are:

“What’s the difference between Community Edition (CE) and Enterprise Edition (EE)?”

“What does Magento 2 have to do with it?”

“Which one do I need?”

Once we talk them through their first set of questions, the next line of questioning goes something like:

“How much does it cost to create a Magento 2 site using CE vs EE?”

“‘Why should I choose the paid version over the free version?”  

“Can I create the same advantages of EE on CE if I use extensions?”

It’s tough to answer these questions at a brief high level without an in-depth understanding of your business. Every merchant is unique and every merchant has a unique set of needs, but we can detail some key differences between CE and EE so merchants have a better understanding of where to start before they have those in-depth calls with us or another developer.

Magento 1 vs Magento 2

We have covered the differences of M1 vs M2 in detail as well as why M2 is so powerful and worth the upgrade. Read about those here, here, and here. However, below is a cheat sheet comparing the key benefits of what Magento 2 has to offer over Magento 1 for both CE and EE.

New Magento 2 Features included for both Magento 2 CE and EE
Feature M2 Community Edition (CE) M2 Enterprise Edition (EE)
Search Engine Optimization Yes Yes
Site Management Yes Yes
Catalog Management Yes Yes
Catalog Browsing Yes Yes
Product Browsing Yes Yes
Checkout, Payment and Shipping Yes Yes
Order Management Yes Yes
Customer Accounts Yes Yes
Customer Service Yes Yes
International Support Yes Yes
Analytics and Reporting Yes Yes
Mobile Commerce Yes Yes
Native Device Applications Yes Yes
Marketing, Promotions and Conversion Tools Yes Yes

New Extension Processes for Magento 2

When Magento 2  launched, Magento also revamped how merchants access extensions. Merchants can go to the Magento Marketplace for access to hundreds of extensions. Extensions are grouped in the following categories: Accounting & Finance, Marketing, Content & Customization, Customer Support, Payments & Security, Reporting & Analytics, Sales, Shipping & Fulfillment, and Site Optimization.  

Many of the extensions are free but some can cost hundreds, even thousands of dollars. The important things to consider is the quality, reliability and available support for any extension. A benefit of the Marketplace is that all the extensions have been reviewed and tested through the Extension Quality Program.

What Enterprise can offer over Community in Magento 2.

To the right set of merchants, we recommend Magento 2 Enterprise Edition over Magento 1 Enterprise Edition. In Magento 1, there was little incentive for merchants to purchase EE. There were not enough additional features over Community to make Enterprise worth the investment. Notably, we saw many merchants on CE utilizing extensions to get the power of EE without the price tag. That worked for some, but it can be tricky to manage and maintain a healthy website. Those M1 Frankenapp sites can create some seriously expensive headaches.

However, that is not the case for Magento 2 Enterprise. Magento has packed the latest Enterprise Edition with a multitude of exciting out-of-the-box features – no complicated extensions (or Frankenapps) required!

Magento 2 EE features vs CE versions
Feature M2 Community Edition (CE) M2 Enterprise Edition (EE)
Customer Segmentation, Targeted Promotions & Merchandising No Yes
Dynamic Rule Based Product Relations No Yes
Persistent Shopping No Yes
Automated Email Marketing Reminder No Yes
Private Sales No Yes
Gift Registry No Yes
Gifting Options No Yes
Rewards Points No Yes
Store Credits No Yes
Multiple Wish Lists No Yes
Add to Cart by SKU No Yes
Return Management Authorization (RMA) No Yes
Content Management System No Yes
Scheduled Import/Export Functionality No Yes
Backup and Rollback No Yes
Staging, Merging and Rollback of Content No Yes
Customer Attribute Management No Yes
Administrator Permission Roles on Website and Store Levels No Yes
Price and Promotion Permission No Yes
Logging of Administrator Actions No Yes
Category View and Purchase Permissions per Customer Group (Limited Catalog Access) No Yes
Order Archiving No Yes
Solr Search No Yes
Full Page Caching No Yes
Optimized Indexing No Yes
Configurable Order Tracking Widget No Yes
Support for Alternate Media Storage – CDN and Database No Yes
PA-DSS Certification/Payment Bridge No Yes
Strong Data Encryption, Hashing and Key Management No Yes
In addition to the extensive features detailed above for M2 EE, merchants receive 24/7 technical support. This includes a dedicated Account Manager who is focused on helping to get the best results from your Magento store.

What About Costs?

Community Edition is a free option for Magento – there is no additional cost to use the platform.

Enterprise Edition is a paid option for Magento – total costs vary depending on merchant revenue.

Specifically for EE, the higher gross merchandise sales value (GMV) of a store, the higher the annual fees will be. With that in mind, larger merchants usually determine that the benefits of EE are worth the investment. Smaller merchants often start by utilizing the free Community Edition, until they can grow their sales to justify the investment of Enterprise.

However, when considering CE over EE, it’s important to also calculate the costs of extensions into your investment. Consider not just the overall cost of the extension, but also the time it will take to install, set-up and configure which includes ensuring that all extensions play nicely together. There is also ongoing expenses for updating and maintaining extensions over time.

While it might be more economical to start with CE and a few extensions, it’s important to think about the long term game plan. If over the next couple of years, dozens of extensions will need to be installed to get the right features needed, then it very well could be worth it to invest in EE from the get-go.

What Version of Magento is Best for You?

This brief overview on M2 EE and CE is to help merchants in the early steps of their research and planning phases. We really like to talk with merchants and get to know their individual needs and goals for the future. Particularly when they’re considering a major M2 upgrade or investment like Enterprise. We want to help ensure merchants make decisions they feel confident about and won’t regret down the road. Magento is a smart business investment and when done appropriately can be extremely rewarding.

Contact us for more information on Magento 2 CE and EE and we’ll schedule a time to answer all your questions.

The Cost of Ignoring Magento Security Patches and Upgrades

The Cost of Ignoring Magento Security Patches and Upgrades

By Greg Reedy, PHP/MySQL Developer at InteractOne

Ignoring Magento Security Patches and Upgrades May Save Some Cash Upfront but Could Cost You Big Time Down The Road.

Magento released two critical security patches this year for Magento 1: SUPEE-9652 and SUPEE-9767. The latter was just recently released May 31.

The first patch (SUPEE-9652) addresses Zend library vulnerabilities. Specifically, “the Zend Framework 1 vulnerability can be remotely exploited to execute code in Magento 1.” The patch is scored as critical but to be affected, a merchant would have to use Sendmail as the mail transport agent or have specific, non-default configuration settings.

The new vulnerability has been found in a Zend Framework 1 and 2 email component used by all Magento 1 and Magento 2 software and other PHP solutions. This is a serious threat and can lead to remote code execution attacks if your server uses Sendmail as a mail transport agent. However, the attacker would need to target this vulnerability specifically by finding your store’s email “Set Return-Path” set to “Yes,” along with your server using Sendmail, at which point your store is vulnerable to this exploit.

The second patch recently released (SUPEE-9767) addresses an issue with form validations and attackers gaining access to the admin side of the site. Once access is obtained, attackers are disabling a configuration protection and uploading malicious code hidden in an image. Use of the AllowSymlinks option in Magento’s configuration settings can enable the upload of an image containing the malicious code. Although the option is normally turned off by default, an attacker can enable it once gaining admin access and upload infected images in multiple locations.

By ignoring or avoiding Magento Security Patches and updates, merchants are opening themselves up to a much larger problem.

We’ve encountered several merchants over the last year or so who have ignored security or bug patches and have severely delayed the upgrading of their Magento sites. Further, we often find that “discount developers” who have previously worked on said sites have broken the “Golden Rule” of Magento development: Never customize or alter the core code outside of official Magento patches and upgrades!

Core edits not only weaken the overall fallback built into Magento, but can cause patches and upgrades to be ineffective if these alterations occur in a way that circumvents the fallback as well.

The sad part is that these issues can be easily fixed if they were handled in a timely manner instead of “waiting it out” until the next redesign or other major site updates. By ignoring Magento Security Patches or avoiding updates, merchants are opening themselves up to the much larger problem of legal indemnification since many maintain publicly that they are PCI compliant while leaving gaping security holes in their site’s infrastructure.

Did You Know That 90% of breaches impact small businesses?

According to a FirstData analysis on the costs of a data breach, merchants can expect to deal with a lot of unexpected costs and paperwork.

“When a breach of payment data is reported (or even suspected), it kicks off a series of unavoidable and costly actions that range from forensic analysis of the merchant’s payment system to mandatory reporting requirements.”

The analysis continues, to address the massive expenses that can incur.

“If your business is unfortunate enough to have this happen, you can expect to incur significant expenses. For example, the cost of a data breach for a small business merchant averages $36,000 and can reach or exceed $50,000.”

This, of course, is in addition to the publicity mess and potential loss of business from nervous consumers. The study found that 90% of breaches impact small businesses, reporting that as much as 31% of customers terminated their relationship with the targeted business after a breach was discovered.

Another recent report by Computer Business Review found that attackers were using “tried and tested methods. Leading a resurgence of ‘classic’ attack vectors [such as] adware and email spam… at levels not seen since 2010.” Spam was found to account for 65% of email, with 8-10% identified as malicious.

Do we need to go back and review SUPEE-9652? It covers email vulnerability. Although perhaps rare for some merchants, the Computer Business Review report indicates the severity of email spam.

It’s simple, invest now in Maintenance and Support so you don’t have to take out a loan down the road to recover from a major data breach or hack.

The common reason why merchants avoid regular site maintenance and support is due to up-front costs. The concern is that site maintenance could run hundreds or even thousands of dollars with little perceived return. The irony is that regular site maintenance often makes the experience better for customers and administrators alike as bugs are fixed and improvements are made. Plus, merchants are obviously saving much more money in the long run as they’ve done all they can to assure their website is secure and truly compliant with eCommerce laws.

Applying security patches is often very quick, especially when a site is up-to-date and properly maintained. Notably, version upgrades will include multiple patches, so it’s usually best to upgrade to the latest versions as they are released regardless if a previous patch has already been installed. This ensures that all applicable patches and bug fixes have been included and the system is hardened against attacks.

So, Ignoring Magento Security Patches and putting off upgrades is just never a good idea. Save yourself time and Tylenol and stay on top of your site’s maintenance and support.

Need a Magento Security Patch or an upgrade? Contact us to see how we can get you patched up.

3 Ways Magento Merchants Can Build Their Brand and Customer Following

3 Ways Magento Merchants Can Build Their Brand and Customer Following

customer following - part 2

By the Marketing Team at InteractOne

A Strong Customer Following Equals eCommerce Success – Part 2

In our previous post we discussed the reasons why growing your customer following is important. If you missed it, go check it out. Understanding the importance of building your brand and customer following is critical to your success not only as a Magento merchant, but as an entrepreneur and business owner. The Magento platform is a robust tool that when used correctly, is critical for building the success of your Magento store and customers. Here are our 3 ways Magento merchants can build their brand and customer following.

1. How to Build Customer Loyalty

Merchants earn customer loyalty by providing positive customer experiences and products that meet customer’s needs. Smart Magento Merchants select their online tools appropriately to support their brand needs. There are a couple extensions that Magento has to help build customer loyalty.  

Extensions such as Magebuzz Social Share make it easy for customers to create an account and log into your store via their favorite social platform. Valuable customer information allows merchants to remarket specific product suggestions via eMail and social remarketing platforms.

Rewards based extensions like Sweet Tooth provide benefits by giving points to frequent shoppers.

Notably, through an eMail provider like Dotmailer, merchants can sync customers point balance via Dotmailer’s campaign design and segmentation tools. Tailored eMails, including personalized product suggestions based on shopping behavior and purchase history, greatly increase the number of conversions.

Extensions like Magebuzz Social Share and Sweet Tooth combined with eMail providers like Dotmailer will increase customer retention, customer purchasing frequency, and customer lifetime value while lowering customer acquisition costs. Reward and loyalty programs help to build happy customers and purchase frequency.

2. How to Build Connected and Happy Customers

In today’s rapidly growing digital world, social media has become the most efficient way to connect and stay connected with customers. Monitoring and staying active on social feeds is the basis of that connection. Customers want to see a business taking an interest in what is being said on social media about your brand.

Tools such as Hootsuite can aid in measuring return on investment for social media and help protect reputation on social media through tracking capabilities.

Connect with customers and stay up-to-date with what is being said about your business. A pleasant customer service experience should be the goal of every customer interaction. Utilize online tools like Hootsuite to monitor and measure social efforts to build happy customers.

3. How to Define the Right Customers for Your Brand

Properly tracking user activity is the most critical step to building a customer following. Merchants need to identify what products customers are viewing, and have the ability to intelligently remarket to them. Finding a way to reach the right demographic for your brand can be a daunting task but there are several tools available to help simplify the process.

The easiest way to identify customers is to use data already being collected. Google Analytics is the most common way to track customer behavior. Google Analytics has very in depth demographic data that can give insight on customer behavior, but if the optional tracking isn’t configured properly it can cause issues. Make sure to have eCommerce tracking enabled and check that the sales funnel is setup properly. Some of the most valuable information about site usage and customers is within Google Analytics.

Create advanced segments based on demographics like location, age, past behavior and/or purchases. Use geographical segmentation to target customers with localized, personalized content, like special offers. With Magento Customer Segmentation and CMS banners, create locally targeted home pages for customers who are living in a certain region. Display promotions/discounts based on if-then statements that appear when a customer falls into a certain customer segment. Magento’s segmentation capabilities help to effectively and personally market to your audience without wasting effort.  

For more advanced tracking, Kissmetrics and Woopra offer in-depth demographic data for more insight on individual customer behaviors. These services can be used to further define your target audience. Kissmetrics offers behavior analytics, automated eMail campaigns and tracking for key growth segments. Track customer behavior and use helpful tools to engage with customers at every stage of the buying process. Woopra has the ability to create customer profiles, track analytics, send out automated eMails based on behavior and connects tracking across all your apps. Woopra’s customer profiles provide a comprehensive look at customers in every stage of the buying cycle. Woopra also has the capability to segment based on each customer’s individual behavior. Services like Kissmetrics and Woopra help to efficiently define your customer.

Interested in growing your customer following?

We’ve helped plenty of merchants over the years through their Magento site and marketing strategy. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you build your brand!

Are You Taking Advantage of the Marketing Functionality in Magento 2 Enterprise Edition?

Are You Taking Advantage of the Marketing Functionality in Magento 2 Enterprise Edition?

Marketing Functionality in Magento 2 Enterprise Edition – More Marketing Power!

Magento 2 Enterprise Edition offers many out-of-the-box features for merchants. Notably, the marketing functionality components help streamline the planning and management of new campaigns and product roll outs. Four key features that every Magento Enterprise merchant should be using include content scheduling, customer loyalty programs, automated eMail, and analytics. These capabilities give your marketing team the power tools they need to be successful.

New Content Scheduling

Enterprise enables merchants to set-up, test, and schedule new content, including product updates, categories, and promos. Notably, links to scheduled content can be shared amongst your team to make reviews and approvals easier. Testing your work is simple, since you can preview your changes in the checkout to make sure all promotions are working as they should before they go live. The timeline dashboard provides an overview of all scheduled updates, so your team can easily coordinate and manage new campaigns.

Customer Loyalty

Enterprise offers more opportunities to make your buyers loyal customers. Reward your customers with coupons, rewards points and private sales. Include bulk ordering to make it easier for customers to buy what they need. Encourage your customers to do more than window shop with wish lists and gift registries. You can also provide in-store credits and and gift cards. With these loyalty options available in M2 Enterprise Edition, your customers will be frequent flyers in no time!

Automated eMail

Automated emails are extremely successful when targeting shopping cart abandonment. Enterprise addresses this important functionality by offering customizable automated eMails. Merchants can set up the emails to offer special discounts based on the contents of the cart. There is also an automated email option for wish lists updates. Now you can work on your conversion rates through nudging customers via updates on their favorite items.


Learn how your marketing campaigns are performing while monitoring how your customers are using your site with the Google Tag Manager (GTM) integration. GTM allows you to add tracking tags or code snippets to your  Magento site to measure performance like audience, personalization, retargeting, and search engine marketing. GTM will transfer data to Google Analytics Enhanced eCommerce, to show how well your site, products, and promotions are performing.

Need some assistance getting started?

In theory, these out of the box features seem simple to manage. Although, unless you’re the marketing and implementation expert on your team and have loads of time for planning and execution, you may need some assistance. We’ve got years of experience with Magento marketing implementation and can help set up and streamline the technical side of your marketing campaigns.

Contact us today to see how we can help you setup your content scheduling, loyalty program, automated emails or implement Google Tag Manager into your code.

3 Reasons Why Magento Merchants Need to Build Their Brand and Customer Following

3 Reasons Why Magento Merchants Need to Build Their Brand and Customer Following

Customer Following

By the Marketing Team at InteractOne

A Strong Customer Following Equals eCommerce Success

It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day tasks of maintaining your Magento website, managing inventory, and coming up with new sales and marketing initiatives. Although, it’s important to take a step back, not only to keep your sanity and perspective, but to focus on long term goals. Building your brand and a strong customer following is an important long-term investment in your business.

Brand building tools can easily be implemented through your Magento site that can help achieve customer loyalty, connections, and define your target audience. Building your brand and customer following needs to be part of your long term marketing strategy. Loyal (aka repeat) customers are critical for your success on Magento and in eCommerce. Here are our 3 reasons why Magento merchants need to build their brand and customer following.

1. Loyal Customers = Repeat Customers

A brand builds loyalty not by only driving sales transactions, but by helping people meet their needs. Merchants build that trust through consistently meeting the needs of their customers. A user-friendly website, quality products and service makes brands dependable. In today’s world, customers are losing patience with marketing that makes promises but does not deliver.  They want real value, not just perceived value. Merchants need to stay engaged with their customers throughout the purchase cycle and beyond to build a strong customer following. Magento merchants can build trust into their marketing strategy through features available via the platform or extensions. Tools like rewards programs, strategic email campaigns and social share features will help develop a loyal following that will only grow. Loyalty is the goal – trust is how you build it.

2. Connected customers = Happy Customers

A strong connection with your customer breaks down barriers that leave them feeling like they are just a number. When you’re connected to your customers, you’ll be able foresee and stop problems before they happen. Whether it’s monitoring your social feeds, customer service eMail inbox or analyzing reviews and purchase trends, your connection will help identify issues and stay ahead of problems. Magento offers a lot of flexibility and tools to help monitor and resolve issues. A Magento merchant grows from exceeding customers’ needs – not by ignoring and capitalizing on them.

3. Defined Customers = Right Customers

Analyzing and defining your target customers needs and purchasing behaviors is critical for building a strong customer following. As a merchant, you need to know who you’re marketing to, what motivates them, and why your brand is right for them. Analyzing tools like market research, customer reviews, and even your analytics (we can certainly help you with that) will give you the opportunity to listen to your audience directly and refine your customer personas. As a Magento merchant, find out everything possible about your audience – make your efforts more efficient.

Understanding the importance of building your brand and customer following is critical to your success not only as a Magento merchant, but as an entrepreneur and business owner. The Magento platform is a robust tool that when used correctly, is critical for building the success of your magento store and customers.

Stay tuned for the next article we have planned that will discuss our favorite Magento extensions and tools we use to help our clients build their businesses.

Interested in growing your customer following?

We’ve helped plenty of merchants over the years through their Magento site and marketing strategy. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you build your brand!

Four Tips for Preserving Magento’s Core Code

Four Tips for Preserving Magento’s Core Code

Magento’s Core CodeBy Brian Holecko Certified Magento Developer at InteractOne

Preserving Magento’s Core Integrity

Magento’s Core Code is intended to be preserved – not modified – so that upgrades can be completed gracefully and without error. The common procedures for extending the core using observers, overriding functions for blocks, helpers, models, and controllers are often leveraged appropriately.

However, there are a handful of techniques for the front-end that are worthy of discussion and exploration. Often, these are not used owing to controversy over what is actually included in Magento’s core code and what is not.

Here are four important front-end tips for preserving Magento’s core code.

styles.css and other base CSS files
In regard to the skin, styles.css and other base CSS files should be treated like core files. A separate CSS file (local.css or custom.css) should be used to override styles, even if there are many changes to be made to the default styles.

Theme base files
Theme base files should be treated similar to core files in regards to layout files. Too often, layout files are copied over to a custom theme directory for minor edits. These edits should instead be put into a single layout file named local.xml or custom.xml. Any edits made to the layout files after being copied over can be achieved using a custom layout file including removing CSS/JS references and other functions which may not be necessarily obvious how to code.

Template files
Template files sometimes have hooks to add additional content, so instead of copying over a template file, try to create a new block in the layout if possible. Also, it is  best-practice to defer to using CSS to correct templates instead of changing the HTML.

/js/ directory
The /js/ directory should be treated as core as well. Modifying these files are discouraged, however, if it is required, be sure to place them into the skin JS directory instead of the core directory.

With these four tips in mind, you will have a cleaner theme with reduced amounts of core edits.  Your site will be easier to upgrade when necessary and will be closer to standard Magento development best practices.

Concerned that your core code may have been compromised? Contact us to learn more about our Code Review and Maintenance and Support options or call us 513-469-3361

Patch or Upgrade Magento?

Patch or Upgrade Magento?

patch or upgrade Magento
By Brian Holecko Certified Magento Developer at InteractOne

The Security Patch Conundrum

Patch or upgrade Magento? When it comes to your Magento site, it is less of a question of philosophy, and more a question of security. Magento promotes security patches through admin notifications. These notifications can alarm merchants, causing them to request urgent patching of their online store. Do not be alarmed, security patches are far more numerous than indicated via the admin notification system. It is actually “best practice” to upgrade to the latest Magento version which often includes dozens of security fixes, including the latest security patches. If a security patch is released before its inclusion in an upgrade, be patient and focus on staying up-to-date on upgrades instead.

What if you get hacked?

One very important reason to stay up-to-date on Magento is what if your site is hacked? There is no simple way to easily tell which security hole was breached. Best case scenario, it’s a hole that an existing security patch can fix. Or worst case, it could be an issue that won’t be patched for a long time to come in older versions of Magento.

When new weak points are discovered in Magento and even if they’re urgent, patch requests take time. They have to pass through project management, development, and QA testing before being released to production. This is critical time in which your site can be exploited. Even if you patch the security breach, a hacker still may resort to another weak point, potentially leading your development team into a game of whack-a-mole with the hacker.

Security Patches violate a key Magento rule – never edit core code. 

The implementation of security patches violates a Magento standard which says that modifications should not be made directly to the core code, which patches do. This can cause confusion during a code analysis when determining whether core edits to the code have been made by a developer or not. Future upgrades will overwrite the patches which have been applied, providing little gain for having applied the patch over upgrading.

Ok, so do I Patch or Upgrade Magento? Upgrade!

To get the most protection, it is best to stay up-to-date on the latest upgrade. With an upgrade, you get the protection of multiple security fixes via upgrading, rather than get the protection of only one security patch at a time. It is recommended that you meet with your team to develop an upgrade plan which will define the time and effort to upgrade, as well as a test plan and of course, budgetary constraints to determine when and how to upgrade to the latest version and when not to upgrade.

Magento Imagine 2017

Magento Imagine 2017



We’re gearing up for another year of the Magento Imagine Conference here at InteractOne and are particularly excited to be teaming up with our friends and partners at BluePay. InteractOne and BluePay have joined forces to bring Magento merchants the secure payment processing they need for their stores and customers.

A few features of what BluePay has to offer:

  • Customers want a fast, secure checkout – BluePay delivers in just one step
  • Single-source reporting (one merchant vendor) increases reporting accuracy and efficiency
  • Fully PCI compliant – strongly secures customer data away from your server

Our CEO, Brian Dwyer will be at booth #41. Be sure to stop by and say Hey! If you want to schedule a session with Brian at Imagine, email him at [email protected] or call at (513) 469-3355.

Several other team members are attending including Barb Scales, our Magento Solutions Advocate Extraordinaire. Barb is looking forward to meeting with our clients and talking to Magento merchants about our 100% on-shore development expertise. If you want to schedule a chat or coffee break with Barb, shoot her an email at [email protected] or give her a call at (513) 469-3361.

What we are looking forward to this year at Magento Imagine 2017

There are always excellent speakers and major Magento announcements made at Imagine but, what we look forward to most is meeting with YOU!

A lot of merchants are still wondering how Magento 2 will affect their Magento 1.x sites and their overall business. Are you considering an upgrade to Magento 2? If so, when? Or, are you thinking of moving to a new platform all together? Do you have questions and need answers?  We’re hearing a lot of good questions from the community:

  • We’re running on M1, should we upgrade to M2?
  • What are the differences between Community M2 and Enterprise M2?
  • How do I maintain my SEO rankings with this change?
  • How do I improve conversion with M2?
  • Is M2 more secure for my customers?

If you’re interested in setting up a one-on-one meeting, please email Barb for Magento development at [email protected] or Brian at Barb and Brian are happy to schedule a quick meet up anywhere, a hallway, the pool, how about one of the food and beverage stations? You name it, we’ll be there!

See you at Imagine!

Magento 1 vs. Magento 2

Magento 1 vs. Magento 2


By Brian Holecko Certified Magento Developer at InteractOne

Magento 1 vs. Magento 2 Architecture – What’s the Difference?

After about 10 years from the inception of M1, M2 was released to address many of the shortcomings of M1 using lessons learned from many years of community feedback. Here is a brief list of some of the most critical issues resolved in M2.

  • Extension conflicts

    • Due to a thriving community extensions market, clients tend to rack up on pre-made extensions, with 30 or more community extensions being the norm. The trouble here comes with extension conflicts when two or more extensions try to rewrite the same functionality. This has to be resolved manually and can be very time consuming to determine where the conflict is and how to fix it so that any conflicting extensions are fully functional.
    • Magento 2 introduces plugins which allow code to overlap core code rather than override it. This significantly reduces the chance of conflicting code.
  • Large class files

    • Class files which are most critical to M1 are often large, so large it made it difficult to quickly determine the core functionality of its functions. An architectural decision inherited from less enterprise grade platforms, this eventually became more of a problem as additional functionality was packed on in later releases.
    • M2 solved this issue through dependency injection: abstracting out the dependencies of a class to make it lighter weight and easier to read.
  • Too many JavaScript files

    • M1 made a mistake by choosing Prototype as their core JavaScript library over the more popular jQuery library. This led to most implementations importing jQuery in addition to Prototype, often mixing calls to both libraries which were designed to do the same thing. Also, many extensions require additional JavaScript libraries, resulting in a large number of JavaScript files which were applied to every page of the site, whether in use or not.
    • M2 solved this problem by removing Prototype in favor of jQuery and also adding the RequireJS library. Now, the JavaScript libraries required for any script must be specified beforehand. This change improves performance by reducing the number of JavaScript files which can be called.

Many of the architectural decisions made in Magento 1 were most likely influenced by its predecessor, osCommerce. Magento 2 clearly stands on its own as an independent enterprise platform which is up-to-date with industry trends, both frontend and backend.


Magento has said that support for M1 will end after 3 years from when M2 was initially released. That means that support will likely end sometime around Q4 of 2018. With many features and extensions for M2 created and even free, there’s not a lot of reason to stay on M1. With the end date for support coming up next year,  mixed with the cost of upgrading to M2 vs the cost of maintaining M1, now is the time to make the move.

If you’re currently experiencing issues and conflicts on M1, contact us about moving to M2.

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