When building an Ecommerce website with Magento—or updating an ongoing one—Magento extensions are what will bring your online operation to the next level.
As their name implies, Magento extensions are designed to extend the full capabilities of a Magento website. This includes everything from enabling better customer and product management features, to processes that automatically create and distribute custom coupons. Basically, if Magento doesn’t do it already, it can be added through extensions.
These extensions are a large part of what makes Magento such a powerful and versatile platform for online sellers. But tens of thousands of Magento extensions exist online, which can make finding the best ones for your website difficult.
To make things a little easier, here’s a brief guide on everything you need to find some great Magento extensions.
Where to Find Great Magento Extensions
Magento Extensions are created by both Magento’s in-house development team and third-party developers.
Extensions created by Magento’s team are found on the Magento Marketplace, along with some carefully reviewed entries from outside contributors. But aside from those few, most third-party developers distribute extensions on other websites to be downloaded free or for purchase.
It’s worth browsing between both types of distributors, as all extension types will not be found in one place. For oftentimes, when webstores require unique or abstract functions to enable their Ecommerce operations, it’s third-party developers who design them.
4 Biggest Qualities of a Great Magento Extension
The unspoken expectation for any extension is that, at the very least, it works as intended.
Meaning, the extension should dependably provide the features and services it promises without bringing conflicting configuration problems to your website. But those are just the minimum requirements.
So, What Makes a Magento Extension ‘Great’?
Many Magento extensions are designed to provide the same webstore solutions, with each varying in only slightly different ways.
But great Magento extensions will cover the basics, and more, by providing websites with a premium range of features, an active support network, and competitive levels of performance. Though even when you come across such high-quality Magento extensions, it’s important to ensure they’re suited to your specific needs.
Fact is, there are countless great Magento extensions out there on the internet, and more being created all the time. Because of this, tracking down which extensions perform best for your website takes a little time and research.
But with all that said, when looking for great Magento extensions here’s the four main things to keep in mind:
• Effectiveness of Performance
• Breadth of Features
• Availability of Support
• Website Compatibility
Extensions are created from Magento’s open-source software, meaning anyone with the right skills is able to develop Magento extensions themselves.
However, this also means less skilled coders sometimes produce messier extensions that come with performance slow-downs and other troubling issues. Since nobody wants to operate a lagging website, or see long load times turn away their visitors, ensuring that an extension offers a high performance is one of the most important parts of your selection.
If you’re shopping on the Magento marketplace, an extension quality program is in place to guarantee smooth coding and performance. Another quick and effective way to determine if an extension performs well is to check its ratings and user reviews.
As mentioned earlier, frequently multiple extensions are made to provide the same services. However, not all extensions are as powerful or plentiful as their counterparts.
Many extensions come with additional related features, or pack the potential of multiple extensions together, to create more useful solutions. Because of this, it’s important to look over the individual descriptions and feature listings between similar extensions to see which will suit your website best.
This information is located under the overview sections of the Magento Marketplace, and will be listed alongside third-party extension pages. Ratings and reviews are also well applied here to quickly determine the difference in quality between alike extensions.
Support might not seem the most important right away, but it certainly will once technical problems freeze your online business.
In many ways, customer support is just as crucial as every other thing on this list. Unexpected hiccups, such as extensions conflicting with other installations, or plain and simple user errors, are common occurrences for websites. Because of this, being able to rely on a strong support network whenever it’s needed is a vital requirement.
To ensure active extension support, review the discussions of their support pages for the recency and frequency of help given.
It is always important to make sure the extensions you’re browsing are current with Magento’s latest version.
Since Magento is always growing, older extensions available online are liable to become outdated from the core platform version. Check extension page update logs to see if developers actively maintain their extension, or you may find yourself stuck with outdated software that creates more problems than it solves.
Lastly, to check an extensions compatibility with your Magento theme and previous extension installations, try running extensions on a test version of your website first. That way you’ll be able to quickly determine if any compatibility errors occur and make the necessary adjustments before anything goes live on your main site.