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Ryan Street discusses performance, conversion optimization, user experience, and Magento security

Updated on  5th May

6 Min Read
Reading Time: 6 minutes

With more than eight years of experience in web development and API design implementation, Ryan Street is one of the most respected individuals in the Magento industry. Currently, he is working at Magento as the official trainer, which in itself is a testimony to his dedication, skills, and endeavors.

With hands-on experience in website design and development, he is eager to help his clients with his cutting-edge and budget-friendly ideas for various projects. He specializes in PHP development, API integrations, and WordPress and Magento website development. Hence, anyone aspirant to kickstart his career in web development should take some tips from Ryan’s success story. He is a big fan of automation.

During this interview, he shares his candid opinions about the flexibility of Magento as a development framework, customer satisfaction, and much more.

Ryan Street Interview

Cloudways: You have been involved in Magento development for the past 5+ years. How did you start your career? What kind of challenges did you face during the initial years?

Ryan Street: My career with Magento started as a freelancer. Magento was unlike any platform I had worked with up until that point. The complexity frustrated me in the beginning, but I soon fell in love.  I had not seen such a flexible application written in PHP until I started with Magento.

One of my biggest challenges was (ironically) the flexibility.  Magento being such a flexible application allowed me to solve a problem in many different ways.  It took a lot of training, research, and practice to understand the “right” way to solve problems in the platform.

Cloudways: You are one of the official trainers of Magento. How has been the experience so far?

Ryan Street: It has been great!  There are a lot of brilliant people working with Magento and I am humbled to be part of that team.  I also have had the good fortune to be able to meet a wide variety of different developers in my training class.

Even though I am there to teach them, they have been teaching me a lot as well.  They have taught me to be a better teacher.  They have taught me to respect personal differences in a developers’ process.  A few have also stumped me with some really good deep Magento questions 🙂

Cloudways: Being an experienced and Certified Magento Developer, you must have firsthand knowledge about the problems faced by Magento web store owners and clients. What are the most common queries you encounter with Magento store owners? How much is the influence of these queries towards the development of the platform?

Ryan Street: Magento is a robust and complex platform.  Many times I receive questions about “can Magento do this?” type questions.  More often than not, I am able to tell clients that Magento has their requested feature right out of the box.  This usually comes as quite a surprise to many of them.

Cloudways: What is the most difficult part of Magento development? Are there any tips to make it smoother and more effortless?

Ryan Street: The most difficult part of Magento development is the deployment process.  Every instance is a little different, and you must develop a unique deployment strategy for each case.

My tips to best mitigate these issues is tools, automation, and consistency. A good suite of deployment tools will alleviate many of your issues.  Jenkins, Git, Bamboo, and Travis are all great tools.

Automation tools that let you perform common actions without manual intervention are great as well.  These range from CSS pre-processors like less and Sass, to Git hooks that push to servers and perform checks whenever a push is performed.

Consistency is the final key.  Keep all environments as close as possible, and you will lower your testing and bug fixing costs.  Vagrant is a great tool for local development and can also be used to deploy your infrastructure as well.

Cloudways: Let’s get aside of Magento and talk about your personal interests. What activities do you enjoy the most during your spare time?

Ryan Street: I am a bit of a workaholic, so a lot of my time is doing either Magento or other technology related activities.  I absolutely love to learn, so I try to consume anything I get my hands on.

When not doing that, I have a guilty pleasure of playing the collectible card game Magic: the Gathering.  I’ve been playing for over 10 years, and I have quite a collection. Other than that, I have a love of drumming.  I’ve been playing for 17 years.  Rock, metal, and grunge are my favorite flavors.

Cloudways: Name five of the most important extensions that you cannot dream to live without, while developing your websites?

Ryan Street: Keep everything unnecessary out of the platform.  There are certain tools I use that I cannot live without:

  1. Git, for version control
  2. PHPStorm, my favorite IDE
  3. Magicento, a PHPStorm extension for Magento
  4. Vagrant, for local dev
  5. Xdebug, for debugging applications

Cloudways: A number of big brands are using Magento as a solution for their ecommerce stores. With the emergence of new online shopping carts, there is definitely a fierce competition going on within the industry. Do you think that Magento will continue to lead the way for ecommerce solutions or will it succumb to the pressure of new entrants?

Ryan Street: To be honest, right now I think that Magento teeters on the edge of a knife.  Magento filled a gap in the mid-market and it did so quite successfully.  Other companies have seen this and ran in to get their share.

Magento has also been plagued with problems for many years.  So much so, that now there are platforms that offer features like “we don’t do this like Magento does it”.  Don’t get me wrong, I love this platform, but no one is perfect.

The good news is that now Magento 2.0 offers solutions to the problems that were so prevalent in the past.  Magento now offers the same robust platform with a better user experience, better administration, and a more stable development platform.

Magento was out in front, and many other platforms have caught up.  Now Magento has jumped out again, and everyone is going to have to catch up once more!

Cloudways: Magento websites are vulnerable to security threats such as content duplication, identity theft, credit card hacks, etc. How would you go about to tackle security problems facing your Magento websites?

Ryan Street: The most important approach to security in my opinion isn’t necessarily one solution.  It is multiple layers of security that compound security overall.  IpTables isn’t enough.  You need firewall protection.  Secure administrator passwords aren’t enough.  You need to control what each user can access.  You get the idea. This way, whenever a threat tries to break one layer of security, they have many more layers they need to crack in order to perform any malicious actions.

There is one pet peeve I do have when it comes to security.  It is when people don’t take security seriously.  You can see these people in every workplace.  They are the ones with passwords written on Post-It Notes on their monitors.  They are the ones with passwords.txt on their desktop.  They are the ones who leave their computers unlocked when they leave for the night.  They are the ones who email someone their password.

You can only do so much.  If your password is so easily accessible by others, there isn’t much you can do.  That’s what makes security so hard.

Cloudways: Speed, performance, and optimization are the three pillars of a successful Magento web store. Do you agree with this statement? How user experience counts when it comes to developing attractive websites with Magento?

Ryan Street: While I agree that these are important, I feel that they are three parts of one pillar.  That pillar is performance.  I believe the other pillars are conversion optimization and security.

I believe that all three are vital to the success of a site.  Without conversion optimization, all the speed and security in the world won’t help you sell.  Without performance, your customers will become frustrated and leave. Without security, a breach can ruin your reputation and bankrupt your business.

Cloudways: Using Nginx, Varnish, Apache, and Memcached as a recipe to optimize the server speed, Cloudways provides one-click installation of Magento. What’s your opinion about it?

Ryan Street: I am a big fan of automation, so one-click installation sounds great.  Especially since setting up and configuring each of these components can be time consuming, so it is very impressive that this is all a one-click action. Nice work!


You can follow Ryan Street on Twitter!

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