With more than 17 years of experience in web development,Christian Kern is one of the most celebrated Magento developers. He is currently working as the Magento Software Engineer and Solutions Architect at Gorilla Group.
He is known for his dedication to his work. This particular trait has led him to become a trustworthy individual whom anyone can look upto for advice and ideas. He is a thought leader and a mentor in his own right, so students and aspirant Magento developers can hangout with Christian and learn a lot from his valuable experience.
Continuing with the series of interviews, today we are honored to have Christian Kern with us. During this interview, he shares his views about the developments within Magento 2.x ecosystem. He also sheds light on the current competition going on in the ecommerce setup. He has some valuable advice to offer to students and aspirant individuals who want to become a professional Magento Developer. He also shares his opinion on conversion optimization and the the security concerns facing Magento web stores.
Cloudways: You have been involved in Magento development for the last six years. How this framework for ecommerce websites has fared during all these years?
Christian: I have been developing Magento websites for more than three years now. During this time I have worked on more than 40 projects. I can confidently say that Magento has been a very strong and solid ecommerce platform with lots of features that other platforms lack. Especially Magento’s support has drastically improved over the past years.
Cloudways: Your are a thought leader and a mentor for a number of high school students. What it takes to be a thought leader? How will you define entrepreneurship? What’s your advice for the new aspirants who want to kickstart their career in Magento? What would be your advice to people who just want to own a web shop, but they do not want to develop it?
Christian: I think it takes curiosity and passion to be a thought leader and the desire to make a difference. Speaking of trying to make a difference: an entrepreneur is, in my opinion somebody who recognizes an opportunity and has the business intelligence to monetize it.
My advice for professionals new to Magento is to read the knowledge base online and most importantly to look at the existing code. There is a steep learning curve to learn Magento and it is not for everyone. On the other hand, if you want to run a webshop, decide which platform has the features you need, where you want to host it and what customizations you need.
If you have more than basic styling needs you want to find a development firm you can trust to do a good job. Reach out to your networks and ask around – word of mouth is better than the best of ads.
Cloudways: Well, what do you think about Magento extensions and modules? Do you think a good developer should rely on these tools? Plus, tell us about the five extensions or modules you think any developer should consider using?
Christian: We like to use third party extensions where possible to save money for our clients. Obviously we scrutinize any extensions we are planning to use and keep track of extensions which are better written and extensions which don’t follow best practices.
It is hard to make any general recommendations because each project has unique requirements. To aid developers in their work, I would recommend using Alan Storm’s “Commerce Bug” as a debugging tool.
Cloudways: There is a lot of competition now going on in the ecommerce industry. With the emergence of WooCommerce, PrestaShop, and other online shopping platforms, will Magento be able to maintain its supremacy within the market?
Christian: There are plenty of shopping platforms and new ones get added frequently. The question is whether they have all of the features that customers are looking for and whether they can fulfill the business needs those customer have. With Magento’s rich feature set and extensibility model, I am confident that it will remain a top contestant in its field.
Cloudways: Magento 2.0 is in beta now. It is much different from Magento 1.x. Do you think this can create a difficulty for Magento 2.0’s acceptability in the industry?
Christian: We are excited about Magento 2.x because of some of the paradigms that drive this new version. They will allow us to integrate the platform with other systems to a whole new level. The advantage for the end customers and businesses running Magento 2.x will be a redesigned user experience and new features for scalability. There will definitely be a learning curve for developers but that is also true for Magento 1.x.
Cloudways: Magento websites are vulnerable to security threats such credit card misuse, identity theft, content duplication etc. What steps should online store owners take to combat such threats?
Christian: Just like any ecommerce application that collects credit card information, it is important to ensure that PCI-DSS principles are being met and that tokenized payment methods are being used.
Some basic guidelines to ensure security are:
- make sure that server software is up to date
- limit access to the code base to a minimum
- limit the modules used to a minimum (each new module can be a potential new attack vector)
- keep your modules up to date
- use secure protocols wherever and whenever possible
Cloudways: Being an experienced Magento developer, you must have first hand knowledge about the challenges being faced by merchants and online visitors alike. What would you suggest to make things easier for the end-users? What other factors should be considered to enhance user experience?
Christian: I think a clean design with an easy to follow purchase flow is a key to conversion. The easier it is to go through the steps to make a purchase, the better.
Cloudways: What steps should be taken to improve conversion optimization of a Magento web store? Will A/B testing be enough to gauge the rate of conversions? With the advent of social commerce, how will you predict the future of online shopping in the next three years?
Christian: I think that personalized recommendations and using knowledge of the users to customize their shopping experience will be key factors in enhancing the user experience and to turn customers into returning customers.
Cloudways: ‘Developers have no social life’. This is a classic developers’ dilemma. Do you agree with that. You are a busy individual. With a hectic schedule already in place, how do you manage your leisure time? Is there any secret that your friends don’t know about you?
Christian: I don’t agree with the statement that a developer has no social life. In my company, very few developers are single and most of them have families with children.
The stereotype of the lonely asocial nerd does not hold true in today’s world. That being said I can attest to the fact that developers are usually pretty busy. This is true for any profession though. Prioritizing the things that are most important to me and making sure that I take a break every now and then are key philosophies here.
Cloudways: Recommend five individuals everyone should follow if they are serious about a career in Magento development.
Follow him on LinkedIn.