Methods and Best Practices for High Performance eCommerce

Great slideshow from Dmitriy Soroka (Magento Inc.) about Magento performance optimization. There are some nice benchmark results in there, especially interesting for shops with lots of products and/or lots of transactions.

I also added some of his tips to my list with 101 ways to speed up your Magento e-commerce website.


Aheadworks extensions cause inaccessible Magento admin

Is your Magento backend not working and are you using an extension from Aheadworks (a very popular Magento extension developer)? Then here’s your fix to the issue!

The issue: Aheadworks extensions check for updates on the Aheadworks servers when you use the Magento admin area. When the Aheadworks server are down (as they are right now) then that update mechanism can’t connect to the servers and crashes your Magento admin. This will resolve itself when the servers are back up, but it’s kinda lame (and not really good from Aheadworks) that your admin goes down when they go down.

Solution: Install the latest AW_All version

Upgrade to the latest version (2.1.3) which doesn’t have this problem. Just unzip and copy all files to the server, overwriting all older files.

Download AW_All 2.1.3 here. It’s the original file provided by Aheadworks, but since there sites are down you can’t download it there…

Don’t get me wrong: Aheadworks makes great Magento extensions. But this tiny update check causes a lot of trouble for many Magento admins worldwide and at the same time and shouldn’t been in there. Luckily they fixed in the latest version.


PS: If for some reason you don’t want to upgrade, here’s a fix for extension versions < 2.1.1:



Change to:


Ownership Bias

People value things more when they feel a sense of ownership.

Also know as the endowment effect or divestiture aversion.

Can you give people something that is theirs only on your website? A page with their own content or personal data? A public page for them to show what they are doing at your website? Create something that is theirs alone and they’ll value it more then it’s actually worth.
On the other hand: keep in mind that if you want people to switch from another system/ product/ competitor, keep in mind that they’ll value their current (and thus ‘safe’) choice more then they actually should, so be extra convincing in telling them you have the better product/ service.




We need triggers as reminders and to motivate us to take action.

Be where the people are and remind them of you, your company and/or your products or services. This can be on social networks, through advertising, newsletters, IM, SMS etc. People need to be reminded that your there and that you have a great product/service waiting for them. Don’t be obnoxious, just gentle reminders.



Time is relative

The way we perceive duration is subjective.

It’s inevitable: we’ll all have to wait for things sometime. When talking websites, this can mean loading or calculation times. Although you’ll probably do everything to get a fast website to prevent people from waiting, sometimes you can’t get around it. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make the waiting more pleasant, or at least less of a burden. What you do with that period of time effects how your visitors experience how long it actually takes.

Example: You probably know those preloader images that cycle around until everything is loaded onto your screen. Because we tend to count cycles (and not the actual time it takes), using slower/less cycles makes us perceive the loading as faster.
Another thing you can do with loading time is preloading relevant content or a fun distraction to keep people busy and not just waiting.



Lesson 2: Magento ecosystem

As a Magento Guru, you are the one people turn to when they want to ‘talk’ Magento. You don’t only need to be able to tell how Magento works, but also how it develops, what we can expect from Magento in the near future and what other companies do with Magento. In other words: know what’s hot and what is not!

This lesson is about getting you started with keeping up-to-date with the latest developments in the Magento country. I’d highly recommend using an RSS feed reeder (like Google Reader) to keep the news flowing to you instead of you needing to scan dozens of sites. It’ll save you lot’s of time.

Official resources

  • Magento Blog
    The official Magento blog, mainly containing updates to the software, showcase items and event information.
  • Magento Connect
    A stream of new Magento extensions. This feed is really busy with many extensions every day. This one isn’t high on your priority list, but scan through the list periodically to look for interesting addons.
  • Magento Uservoice
    This is where people can add and vote on suggestion for future Magento versions. Here you’ll find suggestions and feedback from the users of the system, which is very useful to keep yourself up-to-date with community issues.

3rd party companies

Personal Blogs

A general feed aggregator is where feeds of several websites are combined to create one big stream of Magento goodness.

Of course there are many more Magento resources but you’ll notice that most other blogs focus on technical Magento development (which is not the focus of this course). I’d also recommend looking for some feeds that are near your location, for instance a local Magento community and partner websites.

General e-commerce blogs

As a Magento Guru you’re not only responsible for knowing the ins and outs of Magento. You need to be aware that many people using Magento don’t care about Magento and just want to sell stuff online. Besides Magento, you’ll also need to be able to advice people about best practices in general e-commerce, usability, analytics, testing… You don’t need to (and can’t) be an expert in every field, but advising requires some interdisciplinary knowledge to give clients a complete overview (and to get one yourself). Therefore I’ve also got some general blogs for you that I follow, but make sure too pick the one that’ll interest you the most, there are many (many!) out there.

Tasks for this week:

  • Add the above links to your feedreader and start reading the blogs. Not just for this week, this is one you’ll need to keep doing.
  • Look for local Magento community and partner websites to keep yourself up-to-date with local developments. This will teach you the state of the local community, what their capabilities are and who you need to get in touch with when you’re in need of help. In a while, you should even consider joining a local community to spread your (upcoming) knowledge and wisdom. If there are any Magento events, go to them or even join the organizing team.



Feedback 1: A little Magento history

Feedback Magento Guru Course Lesson 1.

Having read the open software license, I decided that it is time to learn more about different editions of Magento (Community, Professional & Enterprise). The best edition I liked is the Community one, because I am not used to pay for software, and of course not for open source software. Although It is obvious that the companies have to pay for the Commercial License, Warranty and Payment Services.

In my opinion, the interface of Magento is very simple and user friendly. The sections in the program are also very well classified. My first Magento exercise was to write an instruction for a Magento customer about how to get started with Magento. In order to accomplish this task, I had to look around in the back-end in order to write the instruction in a good sequence. It took me about 6 hours to learn how to add a product in the back-end of Magento. The instruction included such items as how to add the categories, attribute sets, attributes & finally products. Having got the first lesson, I am looking forward to the second one, for which I will be waiting the whole weekend;)


Subliminal Stimulation

Presenting stimuli before they are consciously processed might influence peoples opinions.

The idea of Subliminal Stimulation is to use text or images (or even sound) that presents a message that is presented quickly enough to be registered by the sensory organs and the first brain areas, but too fast to be consciously recognized. This is something you could use on your site when you’re using a video message/ tutorial / promo to sell your company or product.

BIG note: This is really one for the category ‘fine-tuning’ or ‘how far can you go’, but I liked to mention it since there are many (ghost) stories about it’s effect. I quote:

The near-consensus among research psychologists is that subliminal messages do not produce a powerful, enduring effect on behavior; and that laboratory research reveals little effect beyond a subtle, fleeting effect on thinking. For example, priming thirsty people with a subliminal word may, for a brief period of time, make a thirst-quenching beverage advertisement more persuasive.

From: Psychology Wikia: Subliminal stimulation