Magento 2 is the new completely revamped version of the popular Magento e-commerce platform and was released on November 17, 2015, seven years after the initial release of Magento 1. Magento 2.1 was released half a year later bringing additional features and is as of now (October 24, 2016) the latest version of Magento. In this article, we go through what is new in Magento 2 community edition for merchants, improvements for customers, considerations for developers and end with some final thoughts on when it’s appropriate to switch to the new version.
What’s new for Merchants
Magento 2 brings a completely redesigned admin panel interface that is more responsive and compatible with touch screen devices, making it easier to use and requiring less time and user training getting started. Adding new products has been made easier by the new step by step product creation guide, and the new product import function is four times faster than before (slow import was a common complaint about Magento). Another improvement to the admin panel is a free keyword search function to quickly find customers and orders.
Magento 2 brings a completely redesigned and improved modular architecture, reducing the risks of conflicts between third party extensions. This also fixes another common issue with Magento: merchants were hesitant to upgrade Magento because this would often break compatibility with third-party extensions, and now this is much less likely to happen.
New streamlined admin interface
Customer experience improvements
Magento 2 has several new features aimed at increasing conversion rate. This includes a simplified two-step checkout process (compared to 6 steps before), and guest checkout; customers are no longer required to register before checking out, instead Magento will offer an optional 1-click registration at the end of the checkout process, after payment.
Full page caching, which was a feature only found in Enterprise edition before, has now been brought over to the community edition. This together with support for Varnish cache, improves Magento’s page loading time by 50%, thus leading to better customer experience and improved conversion rate.
Another new feature is integrated video support for the product details page, creating a more personal and immersive customer experience.
Two step checkout process
1-click registration after checkout
Many of the changes for Magento 2 have been made under the hood mostly noticeable to the developer; most notably a completely revamped architecture. The structure of themes, modules, libraries and translations have greatly improved by formally turning them into components, which are now first class citizens in Magento. All components are completely self-contained, with all files found inside the relevant component folder, instead of being spread out in many locations like before, creating a more logical and organized structure.
Magento 2 also has been redesigned to make use of modern design patterns to keep up with the new web development practices, such as dependency injection and service contracts. Modern libraries are utilized for front-end development such as RequireJS, Knockout, and Less.
These changes bring developers a clearer structure to follow, provides the tools for modern development practices, makes it easier for a developer team to collaborate and reduces risks of conflicts between components.
Should I switch to Magento 2?
There are a few things to consider before switching to Magento 2.
First of all, like mentioned before, Magento 2 has a completely new architecture, so an existing Magento site cannot be upgraded to Magento 2 without a complete rewrite. For this reason, Magento 2 would be more suitable for a new project.
Secondly, at the time of this writing, Magento 2 does not have the same amount of extensions as Magento 1, so if you are relying on certain extensions you may have to wait before they become available for the new version. This applies to themes as well.
Thirdly, even developers who are experienced in Magento 1 will need to learn the new architecture and frameworks, which can take some time as Magento 2 is definitely more complex than its predecessor.
Lastly, we should mention the enterprise edition of Magento 2 has several new features we did not bring up here as they are not in the community edition, as well as it’s being reported as more expensive than the previous version, something to research and keep in mind if you are planning to use the Enterprise Edition.