10 tips for Magento website audits [PART 2]
*Cet article est disponible en français*
A deep analysis of a Magento website is crucial to get a realistic overview of a project before starting working on it.
In the first part of this article, we have pointed out some tips regarding quality and performance.
In this second part, we will now focus on technical and marketing aspects of a relevant Magento audit.
6. Extensions review to prevent nasty surprises
The modularity of Magento functionalities is based on feature development with extensions. If you want to create a new feature or edit a core feature of Magento, the right way to do it is to create a specific module. A project with plenty of modules can potentially lead to a longer migration or development process. Your report must integrate significant indicators for each module. By anticipating eventual complications related to extensions, you will prevent certain bad surprises (and awful nightmares for developers) when you start to implement your own features. The quality of a module is shaped by various signals:
Extension editor: who built the extension? Is the company still involved in product development? What are their other extensions?
Code quality: is the module meeting with Magento good practices? Is the code commented? If it’s needed, is there any obstacle to extending the module’s features?
Features: what is the functionality of this extension? Is it used and can it be improved to better meet needs?
Other characteristics: price, compatibility with latest Magento versions, maintenance possibilities
7. Keep an eye on the sacrosanctus core files
The first thing you learn when you develop on Magento is that altering the core files is totally off-limits. Even if this sacred rule is well-known, some incredulous developers (or e-merchants) are still editing the core files of Magento. These modifications must be spotted and described in the audit in order to prevent compatibility/upgrade issues. A post on Amasty blog, stressing the fact that core modifications must be avoided at all costs, provides a tool to find these deadly modifications. An article on the Inchoo blog also gives some tips to identify core file modifications. Core files integrity is essential in a quality check-up audit.
8. The database is your friend, not your enemy
Magento database structure is built to be scalable. The well-known problematic Entity/Attribute/Value architecture was implemented in order to have an adaptable and highly modular database. However, this database structure can quickly lead to huge scarifying tables, especially if all the different logs are enabled and a massive product catalog is stored. By default, Magento allows many log tables, such as customer access, compared products or saved carts. It’s important to check if there are large tables, whether it’s relevant to keep them or to setup recurring table cleanings, etc. Magento is known to be resource intensive application; if you make some concessions by cleaning useless data from your database, your Magento will run faster without any wide optimization jobs.
9. Internal process optimization
The technical quality of a Magento website is essential, but it’s not enough. Taking over a well-developed project is not always as smooth as it looks. The internal business processes must be stated in your report. Some local developments can modify core functionalities like tracking functionalities, content management, CRM tools, order processing, payment systems, stock management, etc. Analyzing the results of these developments will help you to determine the weaknesses of your project. A well-coded functionality can potentially be irrelevant for the business aspect. Presenting the merchant assessment of the modules will lead to a better understanding of the internal process and avoid potential confusions on business behaviors.
10. UX, Ergonomy and Marketing assessments
As an auditor, your job is not necessarily to go beyond code analysis. Nevertheless, you should evaluate these aspects because they are a significant part of an e-commerce project. The user interface has a substantial impact on conversion rate. If the audit is mainly on front-end optimizations, you will probably have to reorganize product or category pages. How big should the product images be? Is the “Add to cart” button too low in the product page? Should we move forward the product description or the product titles? How are we stressing the promotion prices? How is the content strategy implemented in the back office?
There are many ergonomic concerns and it requires different kinds of expertise to complete a wide audit on this topic. However, pointing out some inaccuracies in your technical report will help establish a better understanding of what you have to correct.
Marketing issues are a good example of how e-merchants need appropriate technical solutions to meet their needs. The marketing team can build the strongest cross-sell or social media strategy; if the Magento solution cannot implement these strategies, it’s going to cause store development to be stuck. In a few words, your report can summarize the UI and Marketing issues of the current store.