Today, I am honored to have CEO and CTO of MageWorx, a well-known Magento extension development agency. Vitaly Dudin is the CEO, and Alexander Martinkevich is the CTO of MageWorx.
Vitaly is an innovative and thoughtful leader with a background in ecommerce and management. On the other hand, Alex specializes in Magento ecommerce development and has built an enviable reputation as one of the best technical guys in the Magento Community.
In this interview, they talk about their career, Magento 1 & Magento 2, and the latest trends and developments in the ecommerce industry.
Cloudways: Vitaly Dudin and Alexander Martinkevich, I would start by thanking both of you joining me for this interview. Vitaly, I understand you are working in the ecommerce industry for many years, and I believe you have vast experience in your relevant field. Why have you decided to work with Magento? What was your reason for singling the platform out from other ecommerce solutions?
Vitaly: I started my ecommerce career in 2009. Times were so much fun back then, and the industry was different from what we see now.
I remember how exciting it was to make first purchases via mobiles phones, witness the emergence of new ecommerce platforms, and of course see the birth and first steps of Magento.
The platform immediately appealed to me. It was a real breakthrough at that time: new and shiny, truly innovative, opening unlimited new opportunities for developers and merchants.
Even now, after almost a decade, Magento still remains the most advanced and flexible ecommerce solution. None of the existing ecommerce platforms are capable of offering such a high level of customization and personalization. Also, Magento successfully handles all modern ecommerce challenges — it continues to evolve, incorporating the latest technologies and improving customer and merchant experience.
So, without a shadow of a doubt, I can say that I made the right choice when decided to work with this platform.
Cloudways: Vitaly, how would you define “Success” briefly? What does it take to be the successful Founder and CEO of an extension development agency like MageWorx?
Vitaly: In my understanding, success comes when you manage to do ordinary things extraordinarily well.
That, in fact, doesn’t require much from you and your team. Making well-crafted and efficient products, providing free and timely support, delivering services according to customers’ expectations — these are very simple, yet effective ingredients of our company success.
Yes, sometimes force-majeure circumstances and various human factors can interfere with your progress. However, we, at MageWorx, try to overcome these quickly and swiftly cope with every unforeseen challenge.
Our team is continuously improving the quality of products, services, and support to make and keep each and every customer happy.
Cloudways: Alexander, you are the CTO of MageWorx – the Technical Think Tank of MageWorx. How would you differ Magento platform from other ecommerce platforms in the industry? With respect to the technical side, what attracts you most to the Magento?
Alex: I guess a lot has been said about Magento, its pros, and cons, advantages over other popular ecommerce solutions. So I won’t go over that in detail. Instead, I’d like to focus on what makes Magento special for my team and me.
What I personally like about the first version of the platform is its flexibility, unlimited extensibility, and modularity. All that gives developers a lot of freedom to create — they can build highly sophisticated, custom-tailored solutions for practically any purpose.
At the same time, Magento “forces” it’s rather strict requirements to make any solution fit the well-organized architecture.
The release of Magento 2 has further enhanced the abovementioned advantages. Now, developers have access to modern ideas such as Dependency Injection, Object Repositories, an innovative and advanced JS framework (based on RequireJS and KnockoutJS libraries).
These patterns and technologies breathed a new life into Magento development process, and let us improve Magento 2 version of our popular solutions.
Cloudways: Vitaly, how do you build trust and understanding between you and your team? What are the key points on which you mainly focus?
Vitaly: Our team is like a big family where we are always there to support and help each other.
Everyone at MageWorx loves what they are doing. Hence, to effectively manage such a team, I just need to avoid excessive interference, help everyone feel comfortable and grow professionally.
Also, I’m convinced that transparency is the key to building trust and understanding among the team members. Everyone at MageWorx knows the company’s goals and understands how we are going to achieve them.
We hold monthly general meetings, as well as weekly ‘local’ gatherings for each department. There, we discuss the results of our work for a period of time, build plans for the next week/month, and air our views, ideas and opinions.
I believe it’s important to listen to each member of the team, and let everyone have a say in discussing the company’s goals, plans, and prospects.
Cloudways: Alexander, Magento is powerful but a complex ecommerce solution. What are the most important factors do you suggest to optimize its performance? What are some useful extensions do you recommend related to the performance? What is your performance experience so far with Magento 2, compared to Magento 1?
Alex: The platform makes it possible to implement the boldest ecommerce ideas. However, in case your business grows, and you want to improve the store’s functionalities, remember that there is a fine thin between store extensibility and its productivity.
Magento provides a well-documented technology stack for beginners. But if you set ambitious business goals, you will require much more than ambition.
If you decide to exploit Magento to the utmost, I recommend you to take into account the following:
- Choose a technology stack that fully corresponds to your business needs. Server cache utilization and load balancing configuration are really important ideas for ecommerce stores.
- Choose a reliable hosting platform. In case you are not into techy stuff, I recommend you to look for a managed cloud hosting platform — by the way, Cloudways is a great option to consider.
- Carefully select 3rd-party extensions. Poorly written code usually causes lots of headaches. Some extensions may negatively influence your site and slow down your store performance. Choose only reliable module vendors after reading independent products reviews, real users’ feedback on forums, Magento Marketplace and Magento Connect.
Cloudways: Vitaly, as being the CEO of MageWorx, how would you assess MageWorx’s performance in 2016? What are your targets for 2017?
Vitaly: I believe 2016 was quite a challenging but rather good year for the Magento community and our company.
As you know, Magento 2 did cause somewhat of turmoil in the industry.
On the one hand, the release of the new version of the platform significantly reshaped MageWorx development plans. Namely, we had to redevelop completely (i.e. create from scratch) our key products for Magento 2, while supporting and updating all the extensions for Magento 1.
On the other, the new version of the platform opened up a whole world of new opportunities for us. For example, we:
- Launched the 1st full-cycle Magento 2 Migration service.
- Acquired Staylime (an ecommerce design studio) and opened a new ecommerce design department.
Also, being innovative in many ways, Magento 2 inspires us to break new grounds and create something truly unique.
Together with our partners from Botscape, we released a product that has no analogs on the Magento market — Woxy the Chatbot. The bot integrates Magento 2 stores with popular messengers (e.g. the Facebook Messenger), redesigns approach to creating wishlists, sending any kind of notifications.
As for 2017, we are planning to release a bunch of new Magento 2 extensions, extend the range of our services, launch new chatbots, and finally, roll out a massive upgrade of SavvyCube – our analytics software for Magento.
Cloudways: Alexander, how are you handling the Magento 2 development process at the moment? Could you please share any tricks to minimize the maintenance window during development?
Alex: Despite the seeming similarity, Magento 2 is an entirely different platform.
This means that even if you have extensive experience in Magento 1 development, you cannot make a quick switch and start developing in Magento 2.
Magento 2 will continue to evolve and change rapidly. For example, v2.1 brought some changes that caused quite a lot of trouble for Magento development shops including us. We had to channel more resources for mastering those changes and incorporating them into our development process.
In Magento 2 development at MageWorx, I play the role of a Technology Coordinator.
Basically, I’m in charge of the most challenging parts of the process — planning of a Magento 2 project and finding an optimal way of implementing all the activities for the project and ensuring a reliable code base. I do the code review (a mandatory part of the development process) in the final stage.
Our team uses GitLab as our internal code repository, which helps us efficiently organize all the processes and save a lot of time.
Cloudways: Vitaly, what best points should ecommerce stores consider when trying to offer all their customers a comfortable, familiar shopping experience?
Vitaly: I won’t reinvent the wheel, and I believe that the shopping experience should be easy, smooth and stress-free.
Every shopper should be able to purchase products fast, without any distractions. As a store owner, you should prevent frustration and make the shopping experience as painless and enjoyable as possible.
Also, it goes without saying that shopping experience should be personalized for each visitor. Individual, highly-customizable product offerings are all the rage in the ecommerce today.
Store design and UI play a major role too.
Every tiny detail on your site matters. Navigation tools, layout, and various design elements should interact with shoppers at each and every step — starting from the moment they come to your store and ending up with the ‘thank you for your order’ page.
Cloudways: Alexander, you are also the Magento Certified Developer. How important are these certifications for Magento Developers? From where a person can learn to get this certification done?
Alex: In my opinion, Magento certification is very important.
Like it or not, the standards always help highlight and measure the impact of the best practices. This is why certifications are a good way of validating employees’ knowledge.
As for resources to learn about Magento, the guys from Firebear studio made a cool list of Magento 1 Developer’s Resource.
And just a side note, a week ago, 3 more of our developers passed Magento certification.
Cloudways: Vitaly and Alexander, please share your motivational words with students and freshies. And yes, I always ask people to share the picture of their work desk as an inspiration for our readers. Can you both please send an image of what your desk/workspace look like?
Vitaly: Sure! I’m convinced, that success is just a number of attempts. If you love what you are doing, don’t give up after your first failure. Keep on trying, and in the end, you will surely become successful.
This is what my desk looks like. Frankly, I prefer minimalism, so my working area is always kept clean and uncluttered.
Alex: Follow your dreams and try to bring your boldest and craziest ideas to life. No matter what everybody says, follow your dreams, maybe, they’ll change the world!
Also, if you think that something should be done the way you want it, do it yourself (or delegate a task to someone, but make sure you have control over it).
Here we go! Sorry for a little mess on the desk. 🙂
Cloudways: How do you guys spend your spare time? What are your hobbies? Do you guys like to play any sports, watch movies or hangout with friends and family like I do?
Vitaly: I truly enjoy active pastimes. I’m a big fan of cycling, surfing, and snowboarding. Also, whenever I have free time, I try to go somewhere outside of the city and enjoy nature with my family and friends.
Alex: I love my family and my little daughter a lot. Together, we read books and listen to electronic dance music.
Sports is also a mandatory part of my life. I spend lots of time in a fitness studio or on a squash court.
Cloudways: We provide 1-click Magento installation with impressive speed & great cloud infrastructures embedded within the platform. Do you prefer shared Magento Hosting for stores or a cloud hosting environment like Cloudways offers?
Alex: I think that shared hosting is acceptable only for ecommerce beginners. Yes, it’s cheap and affordable. However, when it comes to performance, it leaves much to be desired.
If you choose Magento as your ecommerce platform and want to get most out of it, you should consider a server with dedicated resources. But again, in this case, it may cost you an awful lot.
So cloud hosting solutions like Cloudways seem like a great choice in any case. Starter plans offer a managed dedicated server environment for commerce businesses. Plus, you can always upgrade and get access to advanced features.