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Matthew Harrington shares his views about Magento 2, Magetraining and tips for Merchant

May 10, 2017

6 Min Read

“A good teacher can inspire hope, ignite the imagination, and instill a love of learning.”- Brad Henry

Matthew Harrington is a Magento trainer, Marketing Director of Wagento Commerce and a Silver Solution Partner of Magento. Matthew has been an active member of the Magento community and also a Certified Magento Solution Specialist. Matthew is constantly involved in adding value to the Magento community by training Magento amateurs in the US side. Recently, Cloudways got the chance to sit with Matthew and talk to him about the merchant side of Magento and how merchants can improve their sales by tweaking their e-stores.

Matthew Harrington interview

Matthew also talks about how a Magento store owner can make his website faster by using the caching system. He also discusses about the upcoming release of Magento 2. Matthews also shares with us his travelling interests and how he spends his free time. This is what more he had to say.

Cloudways: Matthew, you are a Board Member of Weaver Lake Conservation Association which is responsible for online activities and also management of websites. What are the advantages of being a part of the Communications Committee?

Matthew: I joined the Weaver Lake Conservation Association (WLCA) in 2014 to assist with their online communication efforts. Although the online presence of the WLCA doesn’t have a need for the Magento platform, this may change as the committee explores additional ways for watershed residents to donate to the non-profit. One of the major advantages of being a part of the WLCA has been increasing my own awareness of Weaver Lake’s health and helping spreading awareness to others about ways to maintain a healthy lake.

Cloudways: When did you become involved with Magento? What is the reason behind connecting yourself with Magento? 

Matthew: I first started using Magento in 2010, when working on the marketing team for one of United State’s largest online homebrewing and winemaking supply companies. We utilized a number of built-in marketing tools which really helped drive sales. I was new to Magento but quickly came to appreciate its flexibility and potential, and learned more about the platform. While being there, the company migrated to the Enterprise edition, which exposed me to a variety of other marketing features.

Cloudways: You work as a US Operations Manager in Magetraining USA, What is your actual job role? What issues did you face? What are the main problems Magento Merchants face? 

Matthew: I started working with Magetraining, which was started by Deryck Harlick in the UK in 2014 when I oversaw partnerships for Wagento. I’d noticed a need for Magento merchant training and recognized the value that Deryck’s effort brought to Magento users. My early efforts were split between Wagento, a Magento Silver partner, and Magetraining.
Earlier this year, my efforts shifted towards focusing more on helping the US-side of the Magetraining initiative grow. I find myself wearing many hats, including planning events, marketing events, and training at events. I’ve been fortunate to work closely with Deryck and Brent regarding the growth of Magetraining, as we all see the value it will bring to the users of Magento.

Cloudways: Matthew, as a Magento certified solution specialist, what do you think is the major issue in Magento development?

Matthew: Being only a “solution specialist” and not a developer, I can only speak about things I’ve observed from my perspective, which does include project management while with Wagento. Some issues I’ve noticed include: developers at other agencies are not familiar with Magento building functionality that already exists within Magento. This is always a surprise for clients when they learn they’ve spent a lot of money building something they already had but didn’t know how to use. Related to this, is that the end users do not know how to use the tools that are already present. I’ve watched a lot of companies pay a lot of money to have a developer do something that they could have done via the admin, if only they knew how to do it. You may notice the unifying theme for these issues: “education.” Developers (Magento and non-Magento) and end users of Magento need to be educated.
Cloudways: What’s your advice for merchants who run their store on Magento and want to increase their store’s sale? Does SEO play a significant role in store sales? What is the best method of store marketing? 

Matthew: I would encourage all Magento store owners to use the SEO features available in Magento, i.e. meta data descriptions for products and categories and the .xml sitemap feature. In addition to those on-site efforts, be sure to use social media and set up a blog (and post regularly). Most of the basics of SEO can be setup internally at a company with little effort. It can grow into a complicated effort, but the basics, the foundation, is relatively simple.
Also, consider both a robust PPC and Affiliate marketing initiative – these will help drive traffic to your business. Most companies don’t have the internal resources to effectively manage a PPC or Affiliate marketing initiative, so consider using a company that specializes in those areas. Although it may cost more than a small business is expecting, they can pay off significantly.

Cloudways: Magento 2 beta is in the market.What are your expectations with Magento 2? Do you foresee a complete overhaul in Magento’s infrastructure and functionality? How will Magento 2 impact the ecommerce industry? What’s your advice for SEO persons who want to improve their ecommerce store ranking? 

Matthew: I’m excited to see Magento 2 released later this year. I’ve spent some time playing with beta and am impressed with the new admin interface. Since I am not a developer, I don’t think I fully appreciate the architectural changes that have been implemented, but my developer colleagues are all very pleased with what they see.
It’s encouraging to see frequently updated versions of Magento. This speaks volumes about the commitment Magento places in maintaining a relevant and cutting-edge ecommerce solution.

Cloudways: Today, people follow and prefer speedy ecommerce websites. In your opinion, what tools should we use to speed up Magento websites?

Matthew: First, make sure you are hosting at a company that optimizes for the Magento platform. Not all hosting companies have the internal expertise to configure their servers to make sure a Magento site is performing optimally. Additionally, Magento admins can make sure they are running caching and flat catalog services (for products and categories), and merging CSS and JS file, all of which is easily enabled in Magento admin. Compilation may be worth exploring for older versions of Magento (anti 1.6), but isn’t really beneficial for newer versions. Outside of Magento, there are a number of modules and server-side options, too many to list here.

Cloudways: Magento has a vast community. How do you connect yourself with the Community? Do you think Twitter and/or Linkedin are good platforms for engaging with the Community? Suggest some forums to our readers and newbies who want to get involved with, and contribute to the Magento Community.

Matthew: Magento has a great community. I am mostly involved with Magento on a local level, attending local Magento Meetups and occasionally facilitating some, but I can always reach out the larger community for help when needed. I think Twitter is great for following thought leaders and others that are very active, but I also like
Magento StackExchange for more technical conversations. For people that want to become an active part of the community, I’d recommend engaging on the stackexchange forum for Magento. You may ask questions you have, and also answer questions from others.

Cloudways: Meet Magento is the right platform to involve ourselves in the Magento community. Have you been a part of any Meet Magento? Or, in the future do you plan to attend Meet Magento or any other Magento related event?

Matthew: I’ve not attended any of the larger Magento events, but I will be in the future. I will also be at Imagine, of course.

Cloudways: Stepping away from Magento for a while, I have seen on your social media profiles that you like traveling. How many countries have you visited so far? Share some of the benefits of traveling with our readers. Do you like running? 

Matthew: My international travels are limited (non-existent), but this will change. I do enjoy traveling around the United States as it has a lot to offer in terms of variety and sites to see. The greatest benefit to travelling is meeting new people.
Regarding running, my commitment varies but I do enjoy staying active. This includes the occasional 5k or obstacle race like the Warriors Dash. I always look forward to races, but regret them about ¾ of the way through. The regret leaves after crossing the finish line. 🙂

Cloudways: We all have some influencers, who impress us with their work or their quotes. Name some people from the Magento community who have inspired you the most?

Matthew: I’ve really been influenced by Brent Peterson and his seemingly endless passion for all things Magento. Others that have influenced/inspired me include Ben Marks, Guido Jansen, and Phil Jackson (from Magetalk). Many of them are active in educating others. I am reminded of a quote attributed to Henry Adams: “A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.”

Cloudways: Cloudways offers 1-click Magento installation. You can launch an Amazon, Google or DigitalOcean server within minutes. What’s your opinion about our platform? What other things can be done to improve this platform?

Matthew: I’ve really had very little exposure to your solution, but love the easily navigated management interface, especially the number of items that can be managed. I have to admit that setting up a demo site (I choose the DigitalOcean hosting option) was fast and easy. I’ve reviewed with a few others and all seem pleasantly pleased with available features.


 

You can follow Matthew Harrington on Twitter.

 

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