If you’re a Magento store owner, you may want to augment the functionality of your website by adding third-party integrations and extensions from the Magento Marketplace. But the sheer number of choices can be overwhelming – and make it confusing and difficult to find the extension that’s truly right for your store.
So how do you choose?
We’ve presented six tried and true tips to help you choose the right extension.
But before we jump into the tips, a brief discussion of the Magento Marketplace is called for.
The Magento Marketplace – Vetted, Checked, and Inspected for Quality
In the past, the Magento Marketplace had a reputation of being a bit like the “Wild West” of extension marketplaces.
Because Magento is an open source platform, many folks just uploaded extensions of all types – and varying quality – onto the marketplace.
While this gave Magento users a lot of choices, it also meant the store was filled with quite a few less-than-stellar extensions.
This is no longer the case.
Magento now vets and approves each extension, using a thorough approval process, which includes a code check and documentation review. Now, all extensions on the new Magento Marketplace are guaranteed to meet basic standards of quality, reliability, and functionality.
However, you still need to take the right steps to ensure you get the right extension for your store.
Here are six tips to help you…
1. Take the Time to Understand Your Needs
First things first.
You need to understand what your store needs in order to make sure you choose the right extension.
For example, if you’re looking to add a new payment extension, ask yourself these questions:
- Will this extension scale with my business?
- Is it a fee-based structure?
- Does it support all common online payment methods, including PayPal, Google Pay, and other payment methods?
- Does it have any features I may want in the future, such as the ability to finance large purchases?
- Can it be easily integrated with other extensions on my website and theme?
By taking the time to sit down and ask yourself the right questions, you can avoid wasting time and money on a “stop-gap” solution and find the extension that will truly be helpful for your business.
2. Compare Extensions
Next, narrow your choices down to a few extensions that offer similar functionality.
Doing so has a number of benefits:
- Narrowing down your choices helps you focus more on each individual extension and its functionality – it doesn’t feel overwhelming.
- You can compare the documentation, features, and marketing materials between each one, which is helpful for assessing the overall quality of a Magento extension.
- You’ll be able to take a deeper look at the features and functionality of each of your chosen extensions.
3. Research the Company that Built the Extension
After you’ve narrowed your choices down to a few extensions – or selected one you’re interested in – it’s time to dive a little deeper.
Looking at the company who developed the extension is a great way to gauge its credibility and reliability.
By looking at other extensions developed by the same company, you can get a sense of how consistent their extensions and other products are. For example, one extension may have great reviews – but if other products from the same developer are poorly-reviewed, you may want to look at a different extension.
4. Check How Frequently the Extension is Updated
Update frequency is a good indicator if support is being actively updated, managed, supported, and patched.
Using an extension that’s rarely updated has a variety of risks, including:
- A higher risk of security flaws that could cause a data breach, due to poor patching and maintenance.
- The extension may stop working with your website when the Magento platform is updated.
- Any systems that are integrated with the extension may stop working.
Because of these risks, you want to find an extension that’s frequently updated as quickly as possible, especially if you are looking for a payment extension or another extension that will be absolutely essential for the proper functioning of your website.
Take a look at the Release Notes of your chosen Magento extension to see if it’s updated frequently to resolve bugs, patch security issues, and similar issues.
5. Read Customer Reviews and the Q&A Section
Customer reviews are a good way to get a baseline understanding of the quality of an extension. Although they’re not always completely reliable, you can expect a Magento extension with a number of positive reviews to be a fairly good investment.
To read customer reviews, scroll to the Reviews section or click the stars to jump directly to them.
The Q&A section is also usually worth checking out. Ideally, you’ll want the developer to respond to every question – which indicates that they are actively managing and supporting their extension.
6. Contact the Developer for More Information
By now, you should probably have a pretty good idea of whether or not you’re interested in a Magento extension, and if it’s right for you. And if it’s an inexpensive or a less-than-critical extension, it may be time for you to buy it, and add it to your store.
But if it’s an expensive, subscription-based, or otherwise critical extension, you may want to do a bit more digging. If that’s the case, we recommend contacting the developer directly.
Select “Contact Seller” and you’ll be able to get in touch with the developer. This allows you to ask questions about:
- How quickly support requests are resolved?
- How quickly is the extension updated after a major Magento update?
- How are errors and bugs reported?
- How to receive a refund if you’re unhappy with the product?
If the developer can answer your questions, and they reply quickly, chances are you’re choosing a good extension. However, if they are completely uncommunicative – or take days to reply to a simple question – you may want to look for a different extension.
Choose the Right Extension. The First Time.
The Magento Marketplace is chock-full of helpful extensions – and if you follow these six tips, you’ll be in good shape to identify and invest into a great extension to enhance your store.