Magento 2 was announced on November 17, 2015, since then there have been additional version releases and the new platform is continuing to be strongly adopted.
This article highlights some of the key improvements in Magento 2 (M2) versus Magento 1 that enhance the user experience from both sides – admin (backend) and front-end.
If you are a store owner or are helping manage a Magento site, right away when you log into the admin, you will notice it looks completely different. The Magento 2 backend administrative dashboard has been simplified and completely reorganized. It looks cleaner and feels less overwhelming.
Admin User Interface Improvements
Only one person can be logged in per admin user account. The system will log anyone else out that tries to log in with your same admin account, so it is best to create a unique username and password for each administrator that needs to work in the backend. This is a helpful security measure, so you will know if someone else is trying to log in with the same username while you are working on your site.
One big change is that the backend administrative dashboard is now responsive and has touch-friendly navigation good news for users who access their store admin via a tablet. The menu and links throughout the admin are spread out enough to easily tap on while using a tablet or mobile devices. Some store owners need to move around a large office, or a warehouse to manage orders while on the move. Now they are able to do so while they are on-the-go.
Streamlined Product and Attribute Configuration
In M2 there are enhancements to common admin tasks, such as product creation. If you are used to individually creating simple products to associate to a parent configurable, creating your configurable products has been transformed into a streamlined experience. You can create configurable products all from within the new product page, without having to first make the simple products individually. Attribute creation has now been integrated into this step, which should speed up workflow when creating products.
Products> Catalog > Add product >
On the “New Product” page – To create a configurable product click “Create Configurations”
From here you will be taken through the steps to select or create attributes and then create your options for your configurable product.
Bonus: You can now drag your product images right into the admin from your desktop!
Customizable Data Grids
M2 has improved the customization options for the Sales – Order grid page and the Products – Catalog grid page, allowing for more customization and a more streamlined workflow.
From the left menu, go to Products > Catalog or to Sales > Orders you will see some familiar sections – Filters, Views, and Columns.
Filters can help you organize your results on the page to look at a specific subset of products or orders.
With the new “Views” tab, you can “Save View As” and title it something descriptive and click the arrow to save it for later. This will save your specific Filters and Columns settings. Then when you log in again you can get right back to that specific setup, without wasting time configuring it manually each time you visit your grid. This is a small but useful improvement to save time and make working in the admin easier and more customized.
Under “Default View” – click “Save View As” and give the view a title.
The Columns drop-down allows you to check exactly which columns you’d like to show, with more columns than in M1.
And on the grid view, you can now drag and drop your columns, to rearrange the order of them on the grid. You can do this simply by clicking and holding the title area of your column, and drag to reorder it on the page. This improves ease of use on the grid page.
Add Product Dropdown
Like in M1, on the Product Catalog grid page – there is an “Add Product” button. But now in M2, there is also a dropdown to select the specific product type right from the grid page, and it will take you directly to the product creation page. In M1, it took you to a separate page to choose product type and the attribute set. Now you are taken directly to the product creation page, saving a step.
Other M2 Additions
An important new feature in M2 is that Full Page caching is now built in not only for Magento Enterprise owners but Community owners as well.
Site speed and page load times are a priority on the web, especially on e-commerce sites. Having the full page caching feature built into native Magento provides tremendous value. There are two options to choose for caching. While a site is in testing you can keep the setting as the default “Built-in Cache”, but for live sites it is recommended to switch to “Varnish” cache. Besides changing your settings, there is a little bit of server set up involved – your hosting company should be able to help with this. This is a huge improvement from not having full page caching built in at all on Magento 1 CE sites.
Previously, most shop owners on the M1 platform wanting to speed up their sites had no other option but third-party extensions to use these caching features. At times caching extensions required many hours of testing and hole-punching development to work properly, resulting in user experience issues and headaches for users and shop owners alike. Now with very little effort, M2 store owners can achieve the same performance natively.
You can find these settings in: Stores > Configuration > Advanced > System
On the front-end, the biggest difference you will notice with the native Luma theme is the flow of checkout. The checkout user experience has been simplified and you don’t have to choose your credit card type anymore, the system will fill this out for you. The improved checkout experience makes things quicker for the customer, and in turn, should increase conversion rates for storeowners.
On the order success page, you can now create an account after an order! This is a helpful addition – because in M1 it caused a lot of confusion for customers if they had just placed an order, and then made an account, expecting to see that order information in their account. Now it is possible to get that order information, plus it gives customers another chance to sign up for an account, in case they missed it before checkout.
For Enterprise Users
M2 offers even more features that are just for Enterprise sites. You can schedule marketing campaigns with a drag and drop interface. You can schedule an update to a block, a CMS page, products, cart price rules and more. This is helpful to plan marketing campaigns and auto schedule items according to your marketing calendar. You also get a staging dashboard to preview what things will look like on a future date, to make sure you like how your promotion is going to look before it is released.
The Magento Marketplace…Say Goodbye to the Wild Wild West
Like it or not, third-party extensions are a big part of most Magento sites, to add on functionality that shop owners need to enhance and expand their site. Shop owners, solution providers (like us) and developers alike have all had the unfortunate experience of trying to debug or update a poorly built extension, or had an extension that caused a lot of conflicts with other parts of a site.
Now with the new Magento Marketplace I am very optimistic that these headaches will be diminished moving forward. The Magento Marketplace goes through a vetting process for extensions and reviews code quality before publishing the submitted extension to the Marketplace.
Having a strict new review process does delay the release date of extensions, especially as M2 is still fairly new. Many extension development companies are still working towards creating their M2 versions of extensions, but we are seeing more and more popping up every day. In the long run it will be worth the wait to have quality third-party products that will produce better results on M2 sites.
If you are curious, or trying to find an M2 extension, you can check out the new Magento Marketplace here: https://marketplace.magento.com/
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to all of the differences and new features Magento 2 has to offer. It has some great improvements for users from all different sides of the platform – from admin users, to developers, to the customers.
The 2.0 version has already gone through multiple updates, to fix bugs and improve upon security. You can read all of the granular updates on each release here: http://devdocs.magento.com/guides/v2.0/release-notes/ReleaseNotes2.0.11CE.html
Quick View List of Improvements:
- One user logged in per username
- Streamlined product and attribute creation/configuration
- Touch-friendly navigation in admin
- Responsive admin
- Customizable data grids in admin
- Improved checkout
- Built-in full page caching
- New Magento Marketplace
Want to learn more about all the new M2 features? Stay tuned with our Customer Paradigm blog to learn more! Customer Paradigm specializes in helping merchants upgrade from M1 to M2, migrate from other platforms to M2, full M2 builds, custom M2 modules and more, contact us today and let us know how we can help you succeed!