CMS Magento is an e-commerce content management system with open source code. It is highly widespread on the western market, where it used inter alia for developing websites of global brands. It also occupies a part of an e-commerce niche, however, its development slows down due the slight amount of integrations with local services.
Magento is a solution for creating large projects. It is inefficient to use the content management system for launching an e-store with only a hundred of products on sale, as this system is hard to grasp and the cost of its development is noticeably higher in comparison with other popular CMS’s.
The strong point of this system is the abundance of built-in tools for online sales management. However, in some cases the drawbacks tend to be so significant that they completely negate the advantages of Magento. Nevertheless, in order to understand what CMS can be used for, it’s necessary to take closer look at it.
Design and work with templates
A default theme is accessible after Magento installation. However, you will hardly want to use it, as the main function of the standard template is to demonstrate CMS capabilities rather than permanently operate in sales system.
Magento theme defining how the website looks includes three components as follows:
- Mockups defining the structure
- Templates, consisting of the mixture of PHP and HTML, being responsible for the look of certain elements
- Skins, providing for the display of colors, fonts and images, set the rules of elements layout, in other words they design the page
The theme can be changed by means of making changes in some files located in different catalogues. For this purpose a webmaster should have strong professional skills. They should know at least PHP, HTML and CSS in order to revise the template. The work becomes more complicated due to the slight amount of documents, especially Russian-language ones.
E-store interface can consist of some templates. It’s possible to use regional mockups with the corresponding data localization for multi-lingual websites. For Magento you can buy a professional template.
The average price is about $100. Usually quality is high, choice is wide, so there is a good likelihood that you will find a template for your project and get rid of a necessity to create the theme on your own or get the design developed by specialists, as it will be more expensive than $100. There are charge-free themes, but their quantity is small compared to paid variants.
Magento is the flexible system, basic configuration of which offers tools that are available in other CMS’s only after plugins installation. So its choice for creating the e-store is justified. It is possible to launch some websites with the use of one CMS. They will have a common database and be managed from an unified interface.
Magento offers all necessary tools for e-store management. Let’s not dwell on the basic capabilities such as adding products and editing their description, as it can be done in any CMS. It’s much more interesting to have a look at the following less widespread functions:
- Convenient work with prices. It is possible to temporarily cut the price, launch sales promotion and arrange discount or bonus system.
- A differentiation of users’ rights that allows providing e-store workers only with those capabilities that they require for work.
- An integrated system of product evaluation and review submission which is greatly appreciated by website visitors who make their choice based on rankings and feedbacks of other buyers.
- Wide capabilities for analyzing e-store activity and providing with a variety of reports on the behavior of buyers, the popularity of products, the appeal of pages etc.
Magento provides access to the source code, but many developers try not to deal with this CMS. Their perception is highly influenced by a system structure where controllers and models group not according to their functions, but according to their destination. In other words all files are located in a separate directory belonging to a module.
Difficulties also arise during the customization of templates. An element can be described in some files, for this reason in order to make changes, it is necessary to start with searching all its parts. All this highly increases prices for development and support, not to mention a barrier to entry, so there is nothing to be done in this CMS by beginning webmasters.
Community Edition can be freely downloaded on the official website of the project. There are also professional editions with personal tech support, but they will cost several thousand dollars per a year. You can freely download Community Edition and create the successful e-store on it. In the basic version it is possible to switch to Russian language on the admin panel, however, this won’t settle the issues of integration with payment systems for example.
Magento is optimized to requirements of search engines by default and its basic functionality enables to offer tools for adding meta-tegs, adjusting search engine-friendly URLs and other SEO parameters. Two kinds of description are available for every product which are based on its unique characteristics. Meta-tegs don’t generate automatically and this can be fixed by means of a third-party module or a template.
System basic functionality also provides creation of XML sitemap, moreover, the sitemap functions faster than sitemaps in other CMS for e-commerce. You can set the limits on its size and quantity of pages in one file as well as set the order of priority.
In despite of an initial optimization, CMS faces low speed of website loading due to its cumbersome structure. In order to reduce the risks webmasters advise to perform a range of works on additional optimization which begins with a choice of powerful hosting. Have a look at a few more helpful hints:
1. Use GZIP compression and enable caching on the user side.
2. Store “heavy data”, such as photo and video, on other servers by using CDN technology for content transfer to visitors.
3. Get rid of unnecessary modules of PHP and Apache (access to a server will be necessary).
4. Use a PHP accelerator.
5. Optimize a database by means of queries indexing.
6. Uninstall CMS extensions that you don’t use.
7. Upgrade to the latest version.
Performing the major part of work requires strong skills of programming. When using Magento, the situation becomes complicated due to a slight amount of Russian-language documents. For this reason cost of work is considerably higher compared to other CMS’s.
Advantages and disadvantages
The main advantage of Magento is the out-of-the-box functionality. The basic configuration offers multicurrency, multilanguage capabilities, an opportunity to create some e-stores with the unified database and manage them from one interface.
For uploading a range of products to the e-store Magmi program can be used. It enables to quickly import products with all data, including images. It is also possible to do without Magmi and use a standard import tool. The choice depends mainly on the quantity of products. The other advantages of CMS are as follows:
- An integrated caching system for speeding up pages load.
- User management system by means of which rights and restrictions are established.
- Templates adaptability to different screens.
- Support of a large number of online payment systems.
The main drawback of Magento is its complexity and cumbersomeness. It will be difficult for a beginning webmaster to deal with the installation and the initial setting of the system. If some unusual features or individual design are required, a considerable budget should be prepared at once, because only specialists are capable to customize the CMS or the template.
CMS Magento is the powerful content management system that can be used for creating large-scale projects. It is used by large corporations and global brands. The main reason is the absence of integrations with local services and payment systems.
The basic configuration functionality expands by means of plugins, but mostly they are also paid, even in the original version for the western market. In addition the complete adjustment of the system don’t require basic programming skills by any means, it involves the whole teams of developers for large projects. For this reason Magento is more suitable for creating large e-stores with a wide variety of products, owners of which can afford to have a web support specialist and invest into the project development.
In order to create a small e-store, it is possible to find cheaper and more efficient CMS’s. For example, WordPress. Perhaps they will have fewer tools than Magento offers, but quite enough for arranging online sales without necessity to involve developers.