What’s the difference between Magento 1 and 2 – (and do I need to upgrade?)

by: Leon Blair

on: 19th September, 2017


01952 897 444

As a Magento Angency, we’re often asked by people currently on, or potentially looking to use Magento, whether they should Magento 1 or Magento 2.

As well as what the difference between them is.

But before we get into that, what is Magento?

Magento is an open-source content management system (CMS), designed specifically as an eCommerce platform, that was first launched in 2008.

It is currently one of the leading eCommerce CMS used by many world renowned brands such as …..

But now, the Magento team have released a completely overhauled, Magento 2.

And now Magento 2 has emerged, you’re probably asking, just like you would when the new iPhone is released, ‘should I upgrade?’

There are a number of aspects to take into account.

What new features will I get?
Is it better than what I currently have?

But maybe above all
How much is it going to cost?

So let’s take a look at what the differences between Magento 1 and 2 are, whether it’s worth staying with Magento 1 or using Magento 2.

We’ll take a looks at what the differences are, why you’ll benefit from upgrading and some of the drawbacks there might be.

Improvements from Magento 1 to Magento 2

Magento 1.0+ Magento 2.0+
API Added Retroactively
Flexible Architecture
Open Source (CE)
No Front-end Library
Legacy PHP
No Support for HTML5/CSS3
RWD Theme Included
Weak Content Staging
Sub-Par Search (SOLR)
External PayPal
Secure Bridge
Minimal Video Features
Full Page Cache (EE)
Severe DB Locking Issues
Decent Automated Tests
JS – Prototype
Huge Extension Marketplace
Stale Admin Panel (Backoffice)
No Data Grid
Admin Non-Responsive
EE Pricing by License
5-12 Month Project Cycle
Legacy Checkout
Popular Payment & Shipping Methods
“Wild West” Extension Market
Connect Store
API is Core to the technology
New Architecture for Speed
Open Source (CE)
Ships with LESS
PHP5.6+ / 7.0
Native Support HTML5/CSS3
RWD Theme Included
Advanced Content Staging
Elastic Search (EE)
In-Site PayPal Experience
PCI Compliance Hosted Fields
Integrated Video (PDP)*
FPC (EE)/Varnish
Zero Table Locking (Checkout)
Better Automated Tests
JS – Jquery
Minimal Extensions for 2.0
Fresh New Design in Admin
Customizable Data Grid for Catalog
Responsive Admin Panel
EE Pricing by Order Volume
Claimed 4-8 Month Project Cycle*
Streamlined Checkout Process
Same Payment & Shipping Methods
Rigorous Extension Testing
New “Marketplace”


This is a list some of you may have seen before, but you may be saying to yourselves;

‘What does this all mean? What difference does this make?’

To put it a different way, Magento 2 will have these improvements:

Magento 2 front end improvements

Faster loading speeds – with browsers now expecting faster website’s, page load speeds making a difference to your bottom line. Having your CMS be less cumbersome and loading quicker will help increase on site engagement and sales.

Simplified checkout process – approximately 70% of eCommerce carts will be abandoned, so no checkout and no sale. Having a better, more streamlined checkout process will help lower cart abandonment rates and improve sales and customer retention.

Responsive design – With the mobile market still growing, the need to have a designated mobile website or responsive website is essential, especially to one that directly sells online. Magento 2 is built to be responsive, so you can rest assured that your website will be easily browseable, regardless of device.

Magento 2 back end improvements

Improved admin panel – the admin panel of the past is gone, a more intuitive layout that makes navigating to the different areas, much simpler.

Magento 1


Magento 2


More intuitive search/Find things easier – no matter if you’re looking to find a product or what that discount code you made the other week was, you now have more and better filter options to be able to search.

More secure code and improved CMS security – uses the latest PHP codebase, rather than the older versions that are less secure. There have been numerous security features added to the CMS, that won’t be in Magento 1.

Simpler product creation – this is now all on one page, as a continuous list, rather than flicking between. This will make adding products a simpler process, saving you time. See how easy it is to add a product to Magento 2.

As you’d expect from an upgrade, the Magento team have refined, improved and overall, built a better, leaner CMS.

It’s more responsive, more secure and built to help retain and engage customer.

You’ll still need a well designed website, that’s built to your target market, to be able to improve sales, but the CMS will be a solid foundation for it to be built on.

As well as this, any new features developed, will be for Magento 2.

Magento 1 will not be getting these new features, meaning it will fall behind.

So what are the downsides of Magento 2

So we can see that the new, upgraded Magento 2, is a leaner, tighter CMS than the first,

But what are the downsides?

The biggest one is probably migrating from Magento 1 to 2. The Magento team have a migration tool to help with transitioning from 1 to 2, but this isn’t the simplest of processes and does require some database and coding knowledge.

As well as this, you can only migrate your data over (products, orders, customer data), it does not, migrate:

Design – You’ll need your website to be designed and developed.
Current extensions – your extensions on Magento 1, may have to be purchased again when you upgrade.
Custom code – will need to be re-created.

This probably looks like it’s going to be an expensive project, that takes time to finish,.

However, it could be looked on as an opportunity to sort your website out.

Instead of trying to remake your current design, why not take this chance to have it updated? This could be your chance to relook at what you currently have, and make improvements that will help your Magento 2 store make more sales.

For your extensions, check what you have installed, then make a list of:

  • The one’s you use and need the same or similar one on a new Magento website.
  • The one’s you don’t use, which you then don’t need to get again.
  • The ones that you’re not sure if you use them, then have your Magento 2 specialists see what they do and then you can decide if you need them or not.

If you have any custom coded functionality, have your Magento team audit the code before it’s rebuilt. If there was ever a time to have any custom coded functionality improved, now is the time!

So which should you choose – Magento 1 or 2?

Currently, the Magento team have said they’re going to continue to support Magento 1 with no set end date, and they’ll give 18 months notice before they stop supporting and releasing essential security updates.

If you’re currently on Magento 1, there’s no desperate need to move over, however, planning ahead for the time is advised.

Having a strategy in place will stop a lot of last minute rushing to get moved over to the newer version, and will help you know what to expect.

If you need a fresh eCommerce website and you are looking at Magento, we’d advise skipping version 1, and going for the latest version of Magento 2.

This then stops you needing to upgrade from Magento 1 to Magento 2 at a later date and you get all the latest features Magento has to offer.

If you’re looking for Magento 2 design and development agency, you can drop us a line, and we’d be happy to help.

Industry news, tips and general updates.

Sign up to our newsletter, and get our content first.

We will never spam you. You can unsubscribe with one click.