An Interview with a Multi-talented Magento extrovert – Fabian Schmengler

As promised, we’re back with another inspiring interview with Fabian Schmengler, a multi-talented Magento extrovert. He comes under the very first certified Magento developers. Fabian Schmengler is well-known for his tremendous contribution to Magento community.

Read on to get an interesting insight into the career journey of this Magento solution specialist and find out more regarding his Magento experience as Fabian shares about the difficulties faced by an average merchant, Magento-centric events, Magento 2, difference between Magento 1 & Magento 2 testing, Magento BI, Magento Order Management, Magento Cloud Edition, Magento B2B Edition, Magento testing tips and many other things. And, here we go!

Envision Ecommerce: Fabian, you are a well-known Magento Certified Developer (One of the first Magento Certified developers) and Solution Specialist. Now, you offer your services mainly in Magento development and Magento training. So why did you prefer to connect yourself only with Magento? What difficulties did you face when you started your career in Magento? Please share your career experiences with our readers.

Fabian Schmengler: It was mostly by chance. In 2011, I had a company with two partners and we had some capacities for new projects. An existing client wanted to migrate his home-grown os:commerce shop to Magento and after having contacted some agencies, he was not happy with the cost and asked us if we could do it. We said “no idea, but we are willing to learn”. Magento was in high demand at that time, it was not the first Magento related request, and we sensed an opportunity. They paid us by the hour, a relatively low price, but all learning time counted.

What I liked about Magento was that it was a relatively well-architected system, in comparison to other popular PHP applications of the time. Relatively… there were many things that I hated actually, and that now got better with Magento 2: Lack of interfaces, no dependency injection, global state everywhere, hard to test.

These were some of the technical difficulties. I had the advantage over early adopters, that in 2011 (Magento 1.5) there was already a huge amount of documentation by the community: Books, and blogs like those from Inchoo or Alan Storm, were very helpful to get started and to understand the framework.

If I’m looking back at my first two or three years with Magento, the biggest difficulty was not technical wise, but related to project management and communication: I did not have experience with big client projects, my biggest projects so far were not for clients. And eCommerce has special needs! So the difficulty was to understand what the customer actually needs (which is not always what they say), and also to focus on sensible solutions and not on technology.

Envision Ecommerce: We found that you are a writer, a blogger, speaker, consultant, educator, Magento solution specialist, web & script developer and a person fond of Software Development Process and Testing. You’re really talented in multiple areas. What do you enjoy the most? Did you always want to be what you are today?

Fabian Schmengler: Ha, I once wanted to become a graphic designer. But I was interested in programming since I was 12 years old, so the foundation for this career was laid early. Although I did not have eCommerce in mind for a long time.

What I’m enjoying the most today? In my day job, conception: Understanding a business problem, coming up with solutions at large scale, the software architecture part of development. I also enjoy a lot to travel around conferences, giving talks and training, and meet many people from all over the world. The community around Magento is so friendly and has lots of interesting people!

But I still code a lot and enjoy that too!

Envision Ecommerce: You have been an attendee of lots of Magento-centric events like Meet Magento DE, Developers Paradise, etc. As a Magento developer, what benefits do you get from such events? Our readers are eager to know some of your best moments from such events. What other Magento-based events are you going to attend in upcoming years?

Fabian Schmengler: As a developer I always come home with new inspiration for my job. You can learn a lot at developer centric conferences, but it’s always just an appetizer: I get ideas for topics where I want to learn more about or what I’d like to try out. At the event, the so called “hallway track” is often even more useful than the talks: the conversations in between, one on one or in small groups. Personally, my best moments are from the social events around the conferences. This is where business acquaintances can become friends! I’m thinking of the legendary parties from Developers Paradise 2016 in Croatia. And I love the venue of Mage Titans Manchester, an old cinema with a very special atmosphere.

I don’t plan ahead several years, but in 2017 you can still see me on stage at Mage Titans Manchester  (Nov. 10) and MageTestFest (Nov. 17). There’s one event where you will find me every year though: The MageUnconference. This is a conference without schedule, where the attendees decide what they want to talk about, what they want to hear, or what they want to discuss. If you’ve never been to an unconference or barcamp, I highly recommend it. The next date is Oct, 27th/28th 2018. Keep an eye on http://www.mageunconference.org/ to stay updated.

Envision Ecommerce: Being a certified Magento developer & Solution Specialist, how do you envision the future of Magento after the release of Magento 2? How do you think Magento 2 will impact the eCommerce industry and eCommerce merchants using Magento?

Fabian Schmengler: Magento is going to further increase its market share, not only because of Magento 2, but also because they are building a more holistic ecommerce toolset around Magento with their latest additions, like Magento BI, Magento Order Management, Magento Cloud Edition and last but not least, Magento B2B Edition.

But while winning big clients and B2B merchants, they will lose the small merchants on Magento CE 1.x, that simply cannot afford a migration to Magento 2 or even the increased maintenance costs. This will make place for other less enterprise solutions like Shopware or Shopify.

I’m very curious how the latest initiatives regarding progressive web apps and headless Magento turn out. With these, Magento might really have an impact on the industry, off traditional web shops, towards a new API powered shopping experience on completely different devices.

Envision Ecommerce: While talking about testing in Magento 2, how is it different from Magento 1? What tools do you prefer or use for your testing practices? What would you like to recommend to those who are new to testing in Magento?

Fabian Schmengler: In Magento 2, test suites are already part of the core and it is tested in different granularity: unit tests, integration tests and acceptance tests (functional tests and functional API tests). In Magento 1 this was unconceivable. Automated browser tests were possible, but you had to jump through several hoops to get useful lower level tests.

My main tool for testing is PHPUnit. In Magento 2 I’m writing unit and integration tests with it. For Magento 2 integration tests I am currently developing a fixture library, that makes it easier to set up test data https://github.com/tddwizard/magento2-fixtures.

For somebody new to testing I would recommend learning unit testing outside of Magento first, for example with a small internal or side project, or with exercises, so called code katas. I collected some on my blog earlier this year at https://www.schmengler-se.de/kata

For a quick win to start with Magento testing, I recommend a smoke test suite of functional tests. Smoke tests warn you if the site is completely broken: can you search? Open a product page? Add a product to the cart? Go through the checkout? These tests are relatively easy to create with tools like Codeception and provide huge value in return.

Envision Ecommerce: Being an active & well-reputed member of Stack exchange, what are the most common questions you encounter with developers as well as store owners? What are the common issues that cause quite a problem among developers and store owners lately?

Fabian Schmengler:Good question, nowadays I mostly look at the tags I subscribed to, so I might be biased. But questions that always recur are related to installation and updates: Issues with applying patches to Magento 1, issues with installing Magento 2, issues with minor version updates, or questions about data migration from Magento 1 to Magento 2. This shows that Magento is not a system that the average merchant can just install and maintain by themselves without developer expertise.

Envision Ecommerce: As a part of our interview process, we request you to share a picture of your workstation or the best moment that you have captured in any events. Please share with us.

Fabian Schmengler: This is my desktop, I share a room with one human colleague and Waschbär, our raccoon:

desktop

Envision Ecommerce: Now, we can see that you’re a great inspiration for many because of your first-hand knowledge and expertise, but where do you find your inspiration? Please share some names who have been your role model in your career?

Fabian Schmengler: In the Magento space I have to mention Vinai Kopp, first for his profound knowledge of Magento itself, nowadays for thinking-outside-the-box and overall for being a great and inspiring teacher.

I also follow a bunch of interesting people from the broader PHP and software engineering ecosystem (Twitter, Blogs). I can’t name anyone specifically as a role model but can recommend it to learn new things and not stay trapped inside the Magento bubble. This way I find inspiration and see things from different perspectives.

Envision Ecommerce: Everyone here knows that a developer’s life is too busy, so how do you maintain a balance between your personal and professional life? Besides your professional life, can you please share your personal interests with our audience?

Fabian Schmengler: I have two kids and it’s most important to me to spend time with my family. Other than that, I like to play board games, pen and paper, role playing games, and to go to Heavy Metal concerts and festivals.

Envision Ecommerce: Is there anything we missed to ask you that you want to add here? 🙂

Fabian Schmengler: You could ask me, how many stickers there are on my laptop. The answer is 28 (and counting).

Or you could ask me about the progress of my “Test Driven Magento” book, which would be a great question but I’d have to admit that at the current pace a release this year is optimistic. But I’ll try to make more time for it and get it out sooner. Visit and subscribe to the newsletter to be informed early!

Envision eCommerce team would like to thank Fabian Schmengler for sharing Magento insights, tips and thoughts with us and our audience.

Rebecca Brocton in Conversation with Envision Ecommerce

This week we caught up with another Magento extrovert, Rebecca Brocton. As someone who has been in the Magento world for over five years, Rebecca is known for her unconditional love for Magento. With a Magento certified solution specialist certificate under her belt, she works as a Partner Manager at Ingenico ePayments. She is one of the most devoted, youngest and passionate members of Magento community.

Magento certified solution specialist, partner manager, blogger, music lover and more, we wanted to know this lovely lady better and try to present her love for Magento.

So, without any further ado, please welcome Rebecca Brocton!

Envision Ecommerce: Rebecca, let’s start with your career journey. How did you enter the Magento world? How you came to the role of Channel Manager at Ingenico ePayments, the biggest challenges you faced throughout, and how you tackled them?

Rebecca Brocton: I was introduced to the world of Magento through a role as a junior web developer back in 2012, it feels like it’s been a long and random journey since then.

Becoming Channel Manager was all thanks to Magento Live UK 2016 and a pair of Beats. Ingenico ePayments were sponsoring the event and had a competition to win the headphones which I entered and won! I connected with the Channel Manager there at the time and a few months later he reached out about them looking for a new hire to work with him. The rest, as they say, is history.

The biggest challenges I’ve faced have always been either with bugs or with the client (usually because of the bugs!). Patience, honesty and good ol’ fashioned elbow grease is how I get through all the challenges I face, both professionally and personally.

Envision Ecommerce: Being a Channel Manager at Ingenico ePayments, what are your job responsibilities?

Rebecca Brocton: I prefer to use the term Partner Manager, as Channel Manager can seem a bit aloof and obscure. As Partner Manager, It’s my job to help current and potential partners across the UK provide the best payment solution to their clients and to advise on Ingenico products, services and values.

I am passionate about being more than a third party and instead being a new member of their team that is just as invested in their success as they are. I’m here give them access to the high-quality products and fast-track support that they need to help their businesses grow and together, we can offer merchants the ePayments that will help them sell more, sell globally, and protect their business.

Envision Ecommerce: Is there something you’d like to do differently if you were to start again with your career journey?

Rebecca Brocton: I wouldn’t change a thing now, but if I were to go down a different route it would have been one of film & video editing. When I was at college I studied film and television production and absolutely loved it! If I could pick another job I would go for music video editing or perhaps film scoring, music is another passion of mine and combined with video can have incredible effects on the viewer. Watch something without music and you may think it’s sad, add music and you will be balling your eyes out!

So yes, I could spend hours and hours in editing software, which is one of the reasons I started my YouTube channel, so I could exercise that creative muscle whilst still making it relevant to my work.

Envision Ecommerce: Being a Magento Certified Solution Specialist, what are the benefits of having such certification in your career? It would be helpful for students and young developers who want to pursue a career in Magento?

Rebecca Brocton: I would definitely recommend getting this certification, if for nothing else but to prove to yourself and others that you know what you are talking about when it comes to Magento, eCommerce and helping merchants.

Envision Ecommerce: How do you envision the future of Magento 2? What really excites you about Magento 2?

Rebecca Brocton: Magento has a huge footprint in the world of eCommerce platforms and Magento 2 has the potential to follow in those steps and create an even bigger dent. What excites me about Magento 2 are the endless possibilities, especially with the new technologies and legislations that are coming out like AI, Virtual and Augmented Reality, Conversational Commerce, PSD2, GDPR etc. that will really push companies to reach their full potentials when developing new products and services.

Envision Ecommerce: When you get stuck in your Magento project, do you Google first or prefer community? Our blog readers are eagerly waiting to know about the Magento learning resources you usually follow. Please share a book, a website or some other helpful resources with our audience?

Rebecca Brocton: Whatever the issue is my first reaction is to Google is and see which resource appears first, often its either the Magento Community Forums, StackExchange, Magento Docs or a post from one of the many awesome community members. If all else fails, I turn to my Magento partners in crime, Andrew Pemberton and Tom Williams.

Envision Ecommerce: Rebecca, as a tradition of our interview process, could you please share an image of your workstation or the best moment that you have captured in any events?

Rebecca Brocton: Here is my current workstation, aboard a Virgin Pendolino crossing some lovely countryside on the way to London town! The Ingenico ePayments offices are based in Paddington and so I am down there a few times a week which I really enjoy. I love the city!

rebecca-workstation

Envision Ecommerce: As per your experience with Magento, what are the pros and cons of using Magento in development? How do you compare Magento with other popular eCommerce platforms?

Rebecca Brocton: At the minute Magento 2 is going through what Magento 1 did before 1.7(ish). Slightly unpredictable with heavy changes with each release. These changes are great and wouldn’t be there if they weren’t trying to make the platform better and stronger, but they do cause headaches for developers and users alike. I can’t really comment on its comparison with others as I have been a bit sheltered from them in my experiences so far. However, just looking at the market, even in its infancy Magento 2 outshines the others.

Envision Ecommerce: We got to know that you received “Swag Bag Haul” from Magento Live UK 2017. Please share your experience. How many such Magento-centric events have you attended till now? What are the benefits of attending such events?

Rebecca Brocton: That is a good question! I’ve not actually counted how many but this year I have been to more than ever before thanks to opportunities from Ingenico, which is AWESOME. I love connecting with the community face to face, you can build so much stronger bonds than over social media and it really helps solidify the passionate and friendly spirit behind the platform. It also helps you see that those Magento all stars are human, lovely and want to give and get support just as much as you.

Envision Ecommerce: Let’s get aside from work life and move to your personal interests. How you spend your time besides work? Tell our blog readers about your interests and hobbies.

Rebecca Brocton: THERE IS TIME BESIDES WORK TIME?! Haha. I spend my time with my beautiful wife, shooting arrows at targets and missing, travelling, listening to music, reading (or being read to thanks to Blinkist), and having as much fun as possible! I have also just taken to DIY, my most recent project being cutting down a banister in order to get a king size headboard upstairs.

Envision Ecommerce: Name some people who are the real cornerstones of your life and inspired you in your life?

Rebecca Brocton: My wife, family and friends that I have met through all walks of life, professionally and personally. Everyone in the Magento community have such good work ethic and passion that you cannot help but be inspired by them and there are too many to list! I’ve turned to Guido Jansen, Andra Lungu and, of course, our wonderful Community Manager Sherrie Rohde so many times for advice. I know I could go to anyone in our #Magento space and they would be happy and willing to help, just as I am there to help anyone else.

Envision Ecommerce: Who would you recommend being interviewed next on Envision Ecommerce? Could you please recommend some names of your colleagues, friends, or people who have a core love for Magento like you?

Rebecca Brocton: I like to hear from Magento employees about where they see the platform and their career going from the inside. Perhaps their latest hire, David Manners? He’s a great guy and has lots of interesting opinions and experiences!

Envision Ecommerce: As a closing remark, can you please share your future plan or lifetime goals (personal or business) with our audience?

Rebecca Brocton: My future plan is the same thing I do every night, Envision… TRY AND TAKE OVER THE WORLD.

cartoon

Envision Ecommerce team would like to thank you for this interview and wish you good luck in your career. As for the rest, we will keep coming up with other inspiring interviews from more experienced industry leaders and well-reputed thought leaders. So stay tuned..!

Interview with Magento Security & Mountaineering Expert Talesh Seeparsan

We’re back again with an interview from another Magento expert, Talesh Seeparsan. He is a Magento expert along with a knack for mountaineering. Since 2008 he has been working with Magento along with a keen interest in web security. He’s the founder of Bit79 (one of the first Canadian Magento eCommerce consulting firms), based in Toronto, Canada Area.

In his interview with Envision Ecommerce, he talks about his career journey, experience in the Magento world, Magento security, Magento 2 security, blogging secret, personal life and mountaineering experience. Let’s find out more about Talesh Seeparsan:

Envision Ecommerce: Just to start off we would love to know about your background and career journey that brought you to your current position of Bit 79’s Founder? What challenges did you tackle during your early days?

Talesh Seeparsan: I have been working with Magento for a long time and started my company shortly after working on my first Magento project. As you can imagine my big challenge back then was just working with Magento as there was zero to no information. Back then you had to learn by experimenting and breaking things. Granted if you overcame this challenge and became comfortable with the platform itself things got much easier.

Envision Ecommerce: Being a security guy and a consultant for so many years, focusing specifically on Magento, what effective tools and techniques would you recommend to eCommerce websites and merchants to defend their Magento sites?

Talesh Seeparsan: Ironically “tools” is the last thing you need to think about when you are stepping up the security of your website. You need to focus on two much more important (and possibly more difficult) things first before you even consider what tools to use. You need to focus on equipping your people with the knowledge to defend the sites and engendering a culture of security. After that, the next logical step is putting in (documented) practices in place to ensure that security is an ongoing concern and constantly revisited. Then only after that the tools that best fit your organization will come naturally.

Envision Ecommerce: What other important security tips do you recommend?

Talesh Seeparsan: Since you asked for tools and I didn’t give any specific examples in the last question. I would suggest at least starting with Magereport.com and the Magento Malware scanner which can be found on Magesec.org. Those are great starting points, however if you don’t have the people who understand how to use them or the importance of using them and especially the diligence for keeping up to date on them, then having access to these awesome free tools doesn’t help you.

Envision Ecommerce: Talesh, as a speaker, you have attended so many Magento Meetups, conferences and events, like Meet Magento Hrvatska 2017, Developer Paradise, MM15ES, etc. Please share your experience and what benefits do you get from such events? What has been your best event memory till now?

Talesh Seeparsan: My goal really is to step up the security maturity of the Magento world. I do a lot of tweeting but only a tiny percentage of the Magento world is on twitter, so reaching out to local communities working with Magento at these events has been key. It is hard to pick a best event memory, but I think my most cherished would be the first Magento Imagine in 2011 when I met Alan Storm and Ashley Schroder, and sat till wee hours of the night talking software and ethics with those two and realizing that Magento people was my people.

Envision Ecommerce: We know about your “MageDef – Building Defensible eCommerce”. What would you love to say about it?

Talesh Seeparsan: Magedef was originally started in 2015 because I realized in the Magento world there is this flurry of events in the latter half of the year, however in the beginning of the year there are few events leading up to Magento Imagine and I wanted to get information out to people on a more regular basis. So why not do a podcast? Unfortunately running a podcast is easy when you live in one place but shortly afterwards I started travelling which made it difficult to continue. Now that I am back in Canada, maybe it’s time to start it up again to bridge the gulf between the end of the year and Magento Imagine.

Envision Ecommerce: How do you see Magento 2 in terms of security compared to Magento 1?

Talesh Seeparsan: More care has been put into some areas of Magento 2 in providing the developer with better, or easier tools for extending the platform in a secure manner. However I think the most exciting part of the Magento 2 security maturity is that with the community engineering team in place and pull requests coming in from around the world we have even more people looking at the Magento 2 codebase critically.

Envision Ecommerce: As a part of our interview process, we request you to share a picture of your workstation or the best moment that you have captured in any events. Please share.

Talesh Seeparsan: Most of my favourite event photos are of people who we’ll need to start getting permissions before posting here. So instead I’ll share a photo of my old Linux workstation I ran my business from before leaving Canada to travel the world.

Talesh Seeparsan Workstation

Envision Ecommerce: Talesh, we know you have been blogging. So when did you start blogging? As you said, “Writing English isn’t my strong point” – in your recent blog post, so can you please share with our readers some of the secrets behind your blogging logic?

Talesh Seeparsan: My secret when it comes to blogging is to make friends with authors and ask their advice. Lately I’ve been reading a book called “Writing Tools” by Roy Peter Clark which was referred to me an author I know. It has helped a bit. Second secret is to get a keyboard you enjoy typing on. 😀

Envision Ecommerce: What would you say if you are asked to give a piece of guidance to those users who think their Magento site has been compromised?

Talesh Seeparsan: 1. Don’t panic.

2. Make non-destructive backups of everything right away.

3. Go to https://github.com/talesh/response for a response plan template to help guide you through the next steps. Ideally you would want to fill out the incident response plan for your own organization before getting compromised and then practicing it with your team (and modifying it accordingly) before you even get compromised. But that document provides some insight on next steps.

Envision Ecommerce: Could you please share your most memorable moments in your professional life till date?

Talesh Seeparsan: In my professional life I work as a consulting architect for companies that have big complex projects and need to get a handle on it and determine how Magento can be best modified to fit their needs. In that role I also end up training developers who have this thing called Magento shoved upon them, and always my most memorable moments are 3-4 months into a project when I need to tell developers who used to hate Magento that I trust their judgement now, there is no need to run their proposed solution by me. In short order they’re coming up with solutions that are even better than mine and it’s time for me to start looking for a new job because my work there is done.

Envision Ecommerce: As we all have some inspiring people in our lives, so who are the five most important individuals inspired you all through your career journey?

Talesh Seeparsan: I’ll choose from the Magento world so others can relate:

1. Vinai Kopp is simply one of the smartest, kindest and most helpful people I have ever met in my life. The vastness of complex information I have learned from him over the years is humbling.

2. Alan Storm is a sheer force of nature. There isn’t much else I can say.

3. I personally am awed by the critical deep thought Kristof Ringleff brings to any topic. I find myself noting down things in my phone after listening to him speak. His train of thought is sometimes more important than the actual content.

4. Andra Lungu really shows that you can be a kickass developer and still be an incredibly empathic person which I think is incredibly important that our community has grown so big. I’m really good at being a developer thing, but easily go into a caveman developer mode sometimes.

5. Interestingly the last person is Andra’s boss: Alessandro Ronchi. Again a very deep thinker and I am inspired every single time I have a conversation with him. You can tell he has looked at many ideas and concepts of running a business and without judgement or favouritism, distilled the best ones down into a science.

Envision Ecommerce: Besides your passion for raising the bar on security in the Magento community, how you spend your time besides work? Are you a family guy? 🙂

Talesh Seeparsan: There is a smiley face on this question because you know the answer to this one. 🙂 I fill my non-Magento, non-security time with hiking nature, photographing landscapes, climbing mountains and doing all sorts of crazy adventure things. So I’m not raising a family right now…. although if I were, I’d probably take them on crazy adventures anyway.

Envision Ecommerce: We know about your love for the Mountains. Please share your best mountaineering experience till date?

Talesh Seeparsan: There is this challenge in this little Canadian town of Canmore called the Canmore Triple Crown. Simply: you have to climb three mountains during the summer and you’ve achieved the Canmore Triple Crown. Last summer, I met a bunch of friends and we decided to climb all three in one day—and we did it. We even stopped in town for a lavish sit down breakfast in the middle yet still had enough time to make it to the final peak right at sunset. Getting to that summit is a memory I will never forget, however the suffering it took to achieve it, I’ve already forgotten.

An Interview with the Leading Digital Marketing Influencer and Author Tim Kitchen

Today, we are honored to have “Tim Kitchen” on board for our ongoing interview series. He is the leading digital marketing influencer and founder of Exposure Ninja (Currently, UK’s one of leading digital marketing agencies) who has written 5 books, covering the Europe’s Best selling SEO book with the title – “How to Get to the Top of Google”.

Besides his core love for digital marketing, he is a professional drummer and loves to go to the gym and watching cricket. To gain more insight into Tim Kitchen, his career journey, personal interests and his thoughts on digital marketing, let’s have a look at our recent conversation with Tim.

Envision Ecommerce: Tim, let’s begin with your career journey. How you en-tered into the Digital Marketing world? Please share your career journey with our audience.

Tim: I started digital marketing while I was a professional drummer, promoting my music online. Then I built a website for my next door neighbour, it changed his life and I was hooked! I built more websites, wrote a book and started Exposure Ninja.

Envision Ecommerce: Currently, you’re the head ninja at Exposure Ninja with more than 9 years of experience under your belt. Could you please share some biggest challenges you came across in digital marketing? How did you overcome such difficulties & challenges?

Tim: The biggest challenge is overcoming people’s scepticism with web develop-ment and digital marketing that stems from their previous poor experiences. Our industry is full of sharks, so we share everything we learn in our books, blog and podcast to demonstrate to people the effectiveness of our methods.

Envision Ecommerce: As the UK’s Bestselling SEO & Digital Marketing Author, how many online marketing books have you written till date? Which one is your favorite? And what inspires you to keep writing?

Tim: I’ve personally written 4, with a 5th one written by our team. The first one is my favourite – How to Get To The Top Of Google. People send in lovely emails about how it’s helped them increase their ranking and grow their business, and that’s really an addictive feeling.

Envision Ecommerce: Being a well-reputed SEO expert, how do you envision the future of SEO, PPC, digital PR and social media services?

Tim: Voice search will be interesting, VR will be interesting, but I think that mobile is just getting started and the speed of the transfer of attention to mobile means that most websites are built for a different audience to the one that is actually vis-iting. There’s huge opportunity there, and I think the whole area of mobile re-sponsiveness and mobile marketing is going to see a huge shake up.

Envision Ecommerce: Tim, in your opinion, what are the most common mistakes people making on their eCommerce websites that prevent them from ranking in the search engines?

Tim: Easy. Not enough text on product pages. They think that short generic prod-uct descriptions will be enough to sell their products, even to people who are un-familiar with their business. This is crazy – Amazon uses over 1,000 words on a page to sell a £1.99 ebook to an audience who is already familiar with them. Why? Because text helps to increase conversion rates and ranking, provided that it’s formatted in an attractive way, of course.

Envision Ecommerce: A lot of digital marketers can learn from you. So, according to you, what mistakes would like to indicate that, if avoided, would help emerging digital marketers?

Tim: Just regurgitating stuff they read online. Half of it is wrong and the other half is exaggerated.

Try things out for yourself, develop your own theories and test them.

Envision Ecommerce: What would you recommend to those who don’t have a big marketing budget but want to stand out among their huge competitors?

Tim: Make your site the most useful and helpful resource on your topic. You’ll pick up loads of ranking and it’s a great way to earn trust with potential custom-ers.

Envision Ecommerce: We found something interesting in one of your Facebook posts – “If you’re not blogging, you have some SERIOUS low-hanging fruit”. What would you like to say about this? And, what are the effective ways to use a blog to attract more visitors?

Tim: First write a list of all your customers’ top questions (you can find them on answerthepublic.com). Then, write blog posts answering each one in a lot of depth.

IF the posts are good, within 6 months you’ll be ranking on Google for these ques-tions. If you chose the right questions, the traffic will be qualified potential buyers and you’ll start picking up leads. It’s such a killer way to get traffic and it’s so easy.

Envision Ecommerce: Let’s move on to your personal interests besides your pro-fessional life. We know you love to play drums and won a French TV show. Please share your experience. What other things do you love to do in your spare time?

Tim: I play in a band in my spare time and the TV show was a competition to find the World’s best covers band. We were an unknown band going up against these huge YouTube stars, and the French people voted for their favourite. We didn’t understand what was going on because everything was in French, but they ush-ered us onto the stage and raised the curtain and handed us a trophy. We thought maybe it was a losers’ trophy, but it turns out that we had won!

Other than accidentally winning French TV contests, I love going to the gym and watching cricket (I live just over the road from iconic cricket venue Trent Bridge).

We at Envision Ecommerce would like to thank you for taking the time to have an interview with us. We wish you best of luck with your professional future en-deavors.

Envision Ecommerce Interviews Andrei Vashkevich, Amasty’s Founder & CEO

We’re back with another inspiring interview and this time it’s with the founder & CEO of Amasty, Andrei Vashkevich. Andrei started his journey as a developer. Currently he is managing the whole company as its CEO and only looks after the management and business relations. Besides his professional life, he enjoys the 20th century rock music and loves traveling. So without any further ado, let’s read more about him.

Envision Ecommerce: Andrei Vashkevich, our research shows that you are an experienced Magento Certified and Zend Certified developer and also the founder, CTO and CEO at Amasty. But by chance, if someone doesn’t know you well, could you please introduce yourself and shed some light on your career journey till date?

Andrei Vashkevich: Well, I started my journey as a developer in primary school, participated in programming competitions and created my first HTML site when I was twelve.

After that, I took interest in C++, Java, PHP, and other technologies. With time, I started to work as a developer, growing from a junior specialist to a senior developer and a department lead.

When Amasty was founded, I developed a lot of extensions myself and was managing the dev department, too. Now my focus is switched to business relations and managing the whole company as its CEO.

Envision Ecommerce: You have been working hard since your inception in the IT industry and then in Magento field, and that results in having a proficient team & company like Amasty. What kind of challenges did you face during your initial days? How did you overcome those problems and difficulties?

Andrei Vashkevich: When we started Amasty, there were only three of us – Alex Stelmakh, Val Grikian, and me. This kind of start means that nothing is easy!

We learned everything from scratch – from investigating the market needs to basic products promotion, from providing support for our first clients to hiring the very first colleagues, and we’re proud that some of them are still with us today.

We had only two steady things – our vast experience of web development and our determination to build great e-commerce products. And those helped us to overcome each and every challenge.

Envision Ecommerce: What inspired you to start using Magento as an eCommerce solution and to become a Magento Certified? What are the benefits of having such certifications in your career?

Andrei Vashkevich: Magento is a well-known, complex and innovative solution. Working with it means that your business becomes global, which, on the one hand, gives you more opportunities when it comes to company growth, and, on the other hand, it’s some serious competition and higher standards of products and services, which inevitably means you are to comply with them by expanding your knowledge and expertise.

Besides, the e-commerce domain was a very promising business field back in the days of Amasty birth, and now, after 8 years, it’s still growing.

Magento certification is another form of education. Of course, I was an experienced Magento developer when I got certified, but when you are preparing for the examination, you get to understand the structure of the system deeper. It’s more important than just a badge on your profile.

Envision Ecommerce: As we see Magento 2 is now updated with many fixes, what would you recommend to those merchants who are upgrading to Magento 2? Do you think that the time is right to adopt Magento 2 as a perfect eCommerce platform?

Andrei Vashkevich: Yes, I think that now it’s time to embrace Magento 2 fully. After a year of stabilization, it is now very usable, the market has been saturated with extensions, and there are people who started to work with M2 from its very beginning, and now they are true professionals.

In other words, now Magento 2 can provide a merchant with all the infrastructure needed for full-scale e-commerce performance.

Envision Ecommerce: You have attended many Magento-centric events. Do you remember something? The Meet Magento PL 2014! J And, you mentioned in one of your tweets – “The second #mm14pl day starts with presentation on automated dev environment. A bit nervous about my speech at 11:00”. How was your experience of speech?

Andrei Vashkevich Magento Speech

Andrei Vashkevich: That was great! I don’t often speak at events, and it was somewhat a new experience for me, although I’m not a newbie when it comes to sharing ideas with the community.

Speaking at events has some magic behind the curtains. It’s not enough to possess knowledge and even to be confident at what you’re broadcasting to the audience. It’s not like presenting your company to a potential partner or talking to a client.

Taking the stage is scary for everybody, from junior specialists to CEOs. So, to perform successfully, you have to do the enormous job: to work on the topic, to prepare a presentation, to practice in front of your colleagues, and finally to have your courage and not to forget everything you worked for on that stage, in front of the crowd.

So apart from the joy of contributing to the community, it’s a great way to upgrade your social skills and to learn stress and anxiety management before important occasions.

Envision Ecommerce: Please share the importance of attending these types of Magento-centric events. What are the benefits of such events for the Magento developers, new participants and the Magento community?

Andrei Vashkevich: I might sound a bit boring here, but communication is everything when it comes to entities like the Magento family. We know it from our own experience, because we have organized two Meet Magento events in Belarus.

Our department heads and co-founders, including myself, often visit Magento events to find new business opportunities and to support relationships we have already built with companies all over the world.

For developers, it’s always helpful to listen to their skilled colleagues on technical tracks, to ask questions about new topics and to continue talking about them after the presentations – I mean, these steaming hot discussions in the hallways and on after parties are a living proof.

For merchants, conferences are a good source of new ideas, from more effective use of Magento to e-commerce marketing tips, and you can also get to know new products and services, both for Magento and for cross-platform environments.

The Sharing is caring saying wasn’t born out of nowhere. Right now we’re getting ready for visiting Magento Live UK, and we’re also a Magento Live UK Networking Breakfast Sponsor.

Envision Ecommerce: Since you have leadership, management, public speaking and blogging skills as well, what other skills you required to be the successful Founder and CEO of an extension development agency like Amasty?

Andrei Vashkevich: Well, it’s hard to point out something here, because my everyday activities require a complex combination of absolutely various hard and soft skills. But I’ll try to highlight some of the skills I’ve been working on recently.

First of all, my strong experience of web development plays an enormous role in the process of managing the company. I’m happy I can talk to Amasty developers, understand their issues, challenges and thoughts and help them on their journey of building Magento extensions. The same goes to Amasty Co-Founder Alex.

Secondly, I have some strong beliefs about the essence of quality services or products, and I hope that my own attitude and approach to delivering those is an example for my team, because it’s more efficient than just talking about how it should be done.

Thirdly, I love what I do, and our mission as a company is not only developing products, but also creating a workplace where people enjoy coming to every day. I do hope we managed to create this atmosphere at Amasty.

Envision Ecommerce: As a part of our interview process, we request you to share a picture of your workstation or the best moment that you have captured in any events. Please share.

Andrei Vashkevich Work Station

Andrei Vashkevich: This is one of my working places.

Envision Ecommerce: Could you please explain the role you play in Magento 2 Amasty extension development process?

Andrei Vashkevich: Some time ago, when I was an Amasty CTO, I was involved into the process even more and participated in each and every step of building an extension, from collecting feedback and investigating the market to managing the dev department and helping the team to dig into the new platform, from working with the support department to solving issues we had when the first M2 releases were not very stable and changed drastically from version to version.

Now, as the company has grown, we hired more product managers, appointed a new dev department head and implemented Agile methodologies, so there’s no need for me to manage and help the team with small or routine tasks any more. I am still with my colleagues when it comes to big decisions, and I’m proud that they are capable of self-management. The result of the whole team’s work is that we became the first Premier Magento Extension Builder Partner.

Envision Ecommerce: There is a great role of motivators and influencers in everyone’s life. So where do you get your inspirations from?

Andrei Vashkevich: My family, of course. And the team – believe it or not, but Amasty lives thanks to my colleagues, which are in love with their work and are striving to achieve the shared aims.

Envision Ecommerce: We have asked a lot about Magento. Let’s deviate a little and move to your personal interests besides your professional life. What do you do in your free time? What are your personal interests and hobbies? How do you manage your family besides your professional life?
Andrei Vashkevich family

Andrei Vashkevich:  I travel a lot, and my special love is Spain, which I I’ve been discovering inside out and will never get tired of this wonderful country. Also, I enjoy the 20th century rock music. My work is a part of my life, as simple as that, so I don’t need to figure out how to separate church and state – it is deeply connected, which I enjoy very much.

Envision Ecommerce Interviews Amasty’s Co-Founder & CSO, Alexander Stelmakh

It is so heartwarming to have our next interview with Alexander Stelmakh. He is a Chief Strategy Officer (CSO), Co-founder at Amasty – a leading Magento extensions development company. In this interview, Alex gives us a peep into his past life on how he reached to the current position. He speaks at International Magento Meets and loves to offer consultancy to the Magento developers around the world.

Moreover, in his spare time, Alexander keeps himself relaxed as he believes that productive work needs fresh, full rest periods and likes to spend time with friends by playing squash, organizing bike trip or participating in a pub-quiz.

And here is one more interesting thing about Alex: he is an advanced scuba diver.

Yes, you heard that right! So without any further ado, let’s read his interview:

Envision Ecommerce: Alex, you are currently a Chief Strategy Officer (CSO), Co-Founder at Amasty. How did you kick-start your career and reach to this position? Was it all strategic (as you’re a strategic planner) or you just moved towards the career you most loved?

Alex: I actually did what I like and tried to earn some money with it. I fell in love with programming in my school years, so without any hesitation, I choose to study computer science at university.

You know, university years are full of temptations, but despite I combined lectures with some freelancing and hanging out, I managed to graduate with excellence. Not sure if I could repeat it again though 🙂 Nevertheless, it helped me significantly to apply for my first job, where I built a career from a junior developer to the head of the development department.

For the sake of building professional contacts and getting a different experience, I moved to another company to a similar position. Then, around the year 2008, I heard about Magento for the first time. And it was a turning point in my life. 16-hours working day in a small office with a few friends, blizzard-fast releases, quick market analysis, smoke testing and nights with coffee and support questions…

Nowadays in Amasty, I carry on multiple projects at the edge of marketing, product management and support, aiming to reach global strategic goals, like increasing market share and establishing mutually beneficial partnerships. Sounds a bit official, but it is a downright truth.

Envision Ecommerce: Being a Magento Certified Specialist, what are the benefits of having such certification in your career? It would be helpful for our readers to know the importance of Magento certifications.

Alex: Well, I do believe education is quite important in engineering, that is why I passed Magento certification and I’m proud that I was one of the first people in my country, Belarus, who did it. Then I organized internal courses in Amasty, and now we have eight certified Magento professionals in the development department and one in the support department. See https://u.magento.com/certification/directory/index/?q=amasty

Surprisingly enough, the most valuable part of the certification is … the preparation process, because it provokes you to dive deeper in the system, understand relations and internal logic, as well as new ways to handle routines.

It helps us a lot to build robust solutions in compliance with all official standards and internal Magento architecture. There are also evident benefits for our customers. They receive stable, upgrade-friendly and fast-working extensions. It’s true for our partners as well. As you know, we have plenty of partner companies all around the world, who assist us with custom development. See https://amasty.com/partners.html

Our partners appreciate code quality and standards compliance in our extensions, which means easy maintenance and customization.

Now we are looking forward to the new Magento 2 education program and hope to jump in as early as possible.

Envision Ecommerce: As a speaker, you have attended so many Magento Meetups, conferences and events, including Meet Magento Russia, Meet Magento Poland, Meet Magento Czech Republic, etc. What benefits do you get from such events?

Alex: Indeed, I did several presentations at various Magento events, mainly at Meet Magento in multiple countries, and attended the Developer Paradise, quite an outstanding event I have to admit. Amasty, as a company, was also a sponsor of many Meetups, including, the one in New York. As Magento Premier Partner https://blog.amasty.com/amasty-partners-magento/ we also plan to visit Magento Live in London this year.

Why am I engaged in all this stuff? Because it gives me a chance to get out of a comfort zone, learn something new, sort out my current knowledge and topic understanding, meet interesting people and make useful contacts.

amasty flag

Envision Ecommerce: Besides your Magento certification, what other certifications do you have?

Alex: I started my career as a developer, so I have several technology-based verified competences. Most notable is the Zend PHP Certificate,   which I got back in 2006.

Zend PHP Certificate

Zend, as you probably know, is the base framework for Magento, so this certificate was most useful.

Here’s an interesting side fact. Magento for a long time was a featured application on the Zend Framework website. As a matter of fact, this gave Magento platform an initial boost of popularity.

Although I was keen on developing and working with code, then I moved towards project and product management. Because it was required for a lead manager. At that time I got inspired by lean production and theory of constraints and thought about PMI certification in classic project management. But, as I said, I came across Magento, put out all theory, buckled down and started programming.

Right now the company counts over 40 employees and I’m in the process of achieving Scrum Master Certification, as we plan to split support and development teams in Amasty and use different approaches for the organization of work.

Envision Ecommerce: Our readers are eager to know about the Magento learning resources you usually follow. Can you please share a book or a website with our audience?

Alex: It’s a very important question taking into account how much low-quality content is available across the Internet these days.

Nonetheless, there are two websites I stick to and recommend to use anyone who works with Magento.

magento stackexchange

Envision Ecommerce: We found something about you, “Alex is a guru of questions to speakers” :). What would you say about this?

Alex: I would say you are flattering me 🙂

Nonetheless, as a speaker, I hate and love questions at the same time. Hate, because being asked a question is always a stressful situation. Love because it clearly shows your speech got a response and attracted attention.

When I listen to some presentation I usually ask a question. First of all to clarify some vague points, and, more importantly, to understand the author’s attitude to the subject. In any case, asking a smart question is a great way to build a rapport with the speaker, which allows you to continue the communication later. So I keep practicing this skill 🙂

Envision Ecommerce: What would you say if you are asked to give a piece of guidance to the Magento merchants who are upgrading their eCommerce stores to the latest version of Magento 2?

Alex: The thing is, so called “upgrade” is not required anymore.

Previously obvious question now becomes controversial having the latest breaking news from the Magento in mind. https://magento.com/blog/magento-news/ongoing-magento-1-support

As they have decided to continue M1 support, merchants receive more options.

I personally see no reason to move stable working Magento 1 store to a new Magento 2 platform right now.

The benefits, like slightly improved performance or better UX for the checkout process, are easily covered by 3rd party extensions. But the disadvantages a more complicated and less stable platform are all here.

Don’t get me wrong, however, if you are launching a brand new shop, Magento 2 is an excellent choice, but the upgrade is a different story.

Will love to see your counter arguments in the comments.

Envision Ecommerce: As for your experience in Magento, what are the pros and cons of using Magento in development? How do you compare Magento with other popular ecommerce platforms?

Alex: Being a die-hard supporter of Magento, it is quite difficult for me to provide an unbiased opinion, so I’d rather skip this question. The only remark is while Magento learning curve might be quite high, it’s not because the system is complicated. No, it’s because it has a lot of functions and it is really flexible.

Envision Ecommerce: As a part of our interview process, we request you to share a picture of your workstation or the best moment that you have captured in any events. Please share.

Alex: My working place is extremely minimalistic and it is done on purpose.

Alexander work place

I often work at home in the morning, as don’t want anything to disturb me in the most productive time of the day.

My motto is “focus on one task, do it and move to the next“. However, it is nearly impossible to maintain step by step mode during the whole day, so I separate important tasks that move me and Amasty towards long-term goals from communication, daily routines and small stuff.

Envision Ecommerce: Let’s get aside from work life and move to your personal interests. How do you spend your time besides work? Are you a family guy? Do you love playing sports, watching movies and hanging out with friends?

Alex: Yes, I’m a family guy! I very fortunately met the only women who could snatch me away from Magento 🙂 Now we live in Minsk and adore our 2-year-old welsh corgi Lucia.

Alexander with his wife

I honestly feel that productive work requires fresh, full rest periods, so I have never regretted the time spent with my friends, be it squash, a bike-trip or a pub-quiz.

Alexander with his co-workers

Unfortunately, with so many work-related tasks and outdoor activities, I have absolutely no time for TV, so I have missed most of the TV series and movies 🙁

Envision Ecommerce: Although now you have become the inspiration for many because of your expertise & firsthand knowledge, however, we would like to know about your inspirations. Let us know the names who have been the most influential mentors in your profession?

Alex: I had started my career before LinkedIn was founded, so my first mentors were books.

While younger people often find books boring, I personally value reading. Although books require bigger initial time “investing” in comparison with articles or podcasts, the “profit” is worth the efforts. Reading in my university years gave me a solid background I’ve been using till today.

This is because now and then I usually look not for modern technology only, but for the time-resistant general approaches and methodology as well.

As a result, Steven McConnell, Martin Fowler and Joel Spolsky have become neighbors on my bookshelf for a while.

And I always feel software development is something more than just writing code. Because there is so much interaction between people, starting from the initial requirements gathering and finishing with the presentation of the final program version. I do believe, under these circumstances, people are more important than processes. So, as you might already have guessed, I early adopted agile methodology ideas from Kent Beck and Ken Schwaber.

But if you let me set aside the professional sphere, where I may list more than enough names of the great leaders, I’d like to mention a name, maybe not so popular nowadays in Europe and USA, but, with no doubts an outstanding person. I’m speaking about Mahatma Gandhi, who has changed the world by his ideas, not by sheer force or a plethora of money.

Envision Ecommerce: Who would you recommend interviewing next on Envision Ecommerce? Could you please suggest some names of your colleagues, friends, or people who have a core love for Magento?

Alex: I’m proud to be familiar with some brilliant minds in the Magento world and definitely recommend to reach them out.

Among them are

Marius Strajeru – StackExchange guru, Magento community super star 🙂

Fooman’s founder Kristof Ringleff – a person behind plenty of superb Magento free extensions;

Viacheslav Kravchuk from Atwix, who always focused on customers’ success while providing Magento customizations services;

Ivan Chepurny – a former Magento core team developer and leader, well known for his handy unit testing framework;

Kuba Zwolinski – a top performing manager, sports guy and indispensable organizer of Magento events in Poland.

And of course, my best friend and colleague, Amasty’s CEO – Andrei Vashkevich. His main skill is getting things done and done at the best possible quality level.

I’m sure there are many more really influential people I don’t know in person and will love to see interviews with them and probably make professional connections.

Interview with 2017 Magento Top Contributor from India – Mohan Natarajan

We’re again here to carry on with our series of interviews with industry’s great leaders and influencers. Today, we are pleased to have Mohan Natarajan with us. He is a strong and a self-motivated programmer who is now the chief extension guy behind DCKAP. With more than 8 years of experience in Magento, Mohan Natarajan is one among few in Magento ecosystem to have all four Magento certifications (Developer, Developer Plus, Front End Developer and Solution Specialist). He is one of the TOP Magento Contributors from India in the recent Magento Live India 2017. Being a huge fan of the Magento Community, Mohan is glued to Twitter, Magento Forums and Magento Stack Exchange, plus organizing the local Magento meetups in Chennai, India.

Besides his love for Magento, Mohan likes to watch movies and hanging out with his friends in his personal life. Let’s know more about Mohan:

Envision Ecommerce: Mohan, currently you are working as a Magento Certified Solution Specialist at DCKAP. How long have you been working with Magento? Could you briefly shed some light on your career journey till date?

Mohan: I started my career in Innuendo Technology Solutions in 2009 and worked for various B2C clients across the globe and in 2011, I moved to DCKAP and worked as a Magento Developer and handled several B2C and B2B projects. Currently, I’m the Head of Extensions at DCKAP and managing a team to develop enriched Magento Extensions for the community.

Envision Ecommerce: As you have completed all Magento certifications (Developer, Developer Plus, Front End Developer and Solution Specialist), why did you prefer to connect yourself only with Magento? And, what are the benefits of having such certifications in your career? It would be helpful for our readers to know the importance of Magento certifications.

Mohan: Very Interesting question – “Why did I prefer to connect myself only with Magento?” Even I’ve asked myself the same question many times. Initially, I worked in few ‘Joomla’ and ‘WordPress’ projects, but later I didn’t get much chance to explore different CMS/Frameworks. Certifications help me to realize where I am and it encourages me to learn more. Magento Certification is a matter of pride and it stands out as a proof of my expertise and encourages me to learn more. In general, certifications demonstrate our dedication, motivation and technical knowledge on a specific platform.

Envision Ecommerce: Being a Magento Certified Solution Specialist you have a sound knowledge regarding the ins and outs of Magento. So what would you say if you are asked to give a piece of guidance to the Magento merchants who are upgrading their eCommerce stores to the latest version of Magento 2?

Mohan: Very good question. Following will be my guidance. This is the right time to start migrating the project from M1 to M2. Document all your existing features and compare with Magento2 native module. Prepare a checklist with the list of third party modules needed for your store and check those modules in Magento Marketplace or wherever you find the Magento Extensions. Because we don’t want to spend too much time to develop the module from the scratch. Please work on the data migration first and see what are the bottlenecks on the data migrations and solve the issue.

Envision Ecommerce: Share your most memorable moments, awards and achievements in your professional life till date?

Mohan: First, when I completed my Magento Solutions Specialist, I felt very happy because by then, I had completed all 4 Magento Certifications and secondly, when I got an opportunity to speak in Magento Imagine 2017, I felt very recognized.

And lastly, when I saw my name listed in ‘Top Contributors’ Magento Live India, 2017, I was overjoyed.

Envision Ecommerce: You have attended Magento Imagine2017 as a speaker. Was this your life’s first Magento-centric event where you contributed as a speaker? Please share your experience with our audience and what benefits did you get from this role?

Mohan: Yes, Magento Imagine 2017 is my first venture as a speaker. This is one of the most memorable moments in my career. I actually got a chance to interact with many people in Magento. After my session, I got to have good interaction with people. I discussed with various B2B merchants and how we DCKAP as a team, helps them to build/improve their store.

Envision Ecommerce: What did you feel when you saw your name among TOP Magento Contributors of India in Magento Live India 2017? Were you expecting that? Or what else were you expecting?

Mohan: I was very very happy when I looked my name in ‘Top Magento contributors’ list of India. That was something beyond my imaginations and all I expected was just some speaking opportunity. It was a great pleasure to be the one among ‘Top Contributors’.

Envision Ecommerce: Mohan, how do you envision the future of Magento after the release of Magento 2? How do you think Magento 2 will impact the eCommerce industry?

Mohan: Magento2 is getting more and more stable nowadays. We can expect a big move in next 2 quarters. Already many of the customers working on moving from Magento1.x to 2.x for better scalability and features. Especially, for B2B, Magento has lot more features. We can expect the move of more B2B customers to Magento from other different platforms.

Envision Ecommerce: As a part of our interview process, we request you to share a picture of your workstation or the best moment that you have captured in any events. Please share.

Mohan:Working table

Envision Ecommerce: Currently, you are the head of extensions at DCKAP? So, what is your advice for others who need to develop a new extension for Magento 2.0? Can you please name 5 of the most important problem-solving extensions that you recommend using with every Magento website?

Mohan: If you are exploring options to build new extensions, instead of brainstorming ideas, we need to first find the problem, then it is very easy to find the solution. We need to check if the extensions are already available in the market. Or else we’ll land up building the same extension which is already available. If we really think a particular idea will add value to the existing extension, we can redesign it. I don’t wish to mention any specific vendor for most common problem-solving extensions. Below I’ve listed the five most problem-solving extensions which I recommend based on my knowledge and experience.

1. Improved search – Cloud based
2. Layered Navigation
3. One step checkout
4. Quick order
5. Product FAQ

Envision Ecommerce: We know you have organized several Magento Meetups in Chennai, India and attended many Magento Meetups around the world. How many Magento events have you attended and organized till date? In your opinion, what are the advantages of attending such Magento-centric events?

Mohan: We actually started Chennai Magento Meetup in 2014 and so far we’ve organized 6 Magento Meetups. We are one of the largest Magento meetup group with 392 members as of today. I’m attending Magento Imagine from 2014 and I’ve attended few local meetups in the US as well. I attended Los Angeles Magento Meetup in Magento office at Culver City, LA, US. Recently I attended Magento Live India @Bangalore. Meetups help to learn and share your knowledge with each other and also you will get connected with some great people.

Envision Ecommerce: Mohan, we know you have been blogging and contributing to Magento community. So, when did you start blogging? What is your motivation for this?

Mohan: I started blogging 6 years back. I always wish to share my thoughts and feelings to my community. I believe it will help me to position myself in this industry and technology. My blog helps me to share my current passion online. When I started my career, I referred so many blogs and forums, but after then I realized to own a blog and share the knowledge to my community. Knowledge sharing generates fresh ideas and it will deepen our knowledge.

Envision Ecommerce: Besides your multi-faceted personality in your professional life, how do you spend your time besides work? Are you a family guy? 🙂 Do you love to play sports, watching movies and hanging out with friends?

Mohan: I’m single 🙂 and I’m with my parents. I often spend time watching movies and hanging out with my friends. I read Quora when bored. I visit Shopping Malls on the weekend and spend time with relatives as well. Regarding Sports, I don’t play outdoor games. In the office, I hangout with my friends to play table tennis and refresh myself.

Envision Ecommerce: You have become the inspiration for many because of your expertise & firsthand knowledge, however, we would like to know about your inspirations. So, name any 3 people who have been your most influential mentors or role models in your profession?

Mohan: Very good question. Thank you so much for asking this specific question. I’m glad that I got an opportunity to introduce the below people:

Gowtham Rajendran– Gowtham and I are friends since college and we share the same passion towards technology. He is my great inspiration.

Karthik Chidambaram & DCKAP Team– Karthik is the Founder and CEO of DCKAP and he gave me a lot of opportunities to excel and grow professionally, I’m always thankful to him and DCKAP team.

Last but not the least, Gopal Masilamani– Gopal is my Ex- Manager and he helped me shape my career and guided me whenever needed. I learned a lot from him and he was a great Mentor. He is a great well-wisher of mine and he reaches me first with his wishes for my success.

Thanks for this opportunity and it was a pleasure answering all your questions.

We also thank you for this interview and wish you & your entire DCKAP team many more years of continued success!

Envision Ecommerce Interviews Marius Strajeru – 2 x Magento Master & 1 x Magento Pioneer

Envision Ecommerce has just kicked off a ‘Blog Interview Series’ with the industry’s leading influencers and well-reputed thought leaders. Here is our first interview with the dynamic Magento Expert: Marius Strajeru.

Meet 2 x Magento Master and 1 x Magento pioneer winner, Marius Strajeru, who ranks number 1 contributor on Magento Stack Exchange. He is a person who doesn’t need any introduction in Magento world. Being a Magento addict for the past 9 years, he is consistently making notable contributions in Magento forums & communities. He loves to change ideas and conclusions to solve Magento related problems – both his own or others’.

Talking aside Magento, Marius revealed that he loves to spend most of the spare time with his Family and also loves to play tennis and football. Speaking about the Ultimate module creator tool, Marius said,” I’ve just released the beta version of the module”

Let’s start the interview and get to know more about Marius:

Envision Ecommerce: Marius, we know your C# lab teacher was your first inspiration who made you consider a career as a developer. Later, at your new job, your team lead forced you to work on a Magento based e-shop project. We will not repeat the same questions here 🙂 ! But we are eager to know how you delivered that project as you said “No” to this question of your team lead – “Do you know Magento?” What Magento learning resources did you follow (any specific book, tutorials, blogs, etc.) or you’re still following? Your answer would be an inspiration for newcomers who don’t know much about Magento but want to connect with it.

Marius: Ah. I see you’ve been stalking me 🙂 . I was lucky on my first Magento project for 2 reasons. The first was that for the first month I didn’t have to produce anything. I had 20 days for learning. And I started looking for resources online like any developer does. I didn’t have much luck with that since Magento was just starting and the official forum was kind of slim, the Magento related blogs were not that many. These resources helped up to one point but not very much. The second reason I was lucky, and the most important… I had a project manager that was (still is) a Java and .NET guru, Adrian. He didn’t know any PHP but he helped me a lot to reverse engineer Magento. He helped me understand the design patterns and the ORM concepts in general and he took the pressure of interacting with the client. And I filled in the blanks with hours of work and digging down into the core. Just for the record, yes, I did screw up the core on my first try and had to manually update everything from Magento 1.0 to 1.1.

And one more comment. My TL did not force me to work on the Magento project. I had the option to say no. But I was young and crazy so I didn’t pass the chance of a challenge.

Envision Ecommerce: Is there something you’d like to do differently if you were to start again with your career journey?

Marius: I never thought about this. I honestly don’t know. Could I have earned more money? Probably. Could I have learned more things? Definitely yes. Am I happy with my current work and achievements? Yes. I don’t know how to tip the balance. One thing is clear. I regret nothing.

Envision Ecommerce: Currently, you are working at Arnia Software as a PHP Developer for 4+ years, what major challenges did you face in this time frame? How did you overcome such difficulties and what memorable moments and achievements you achieved there till date?

Marius: Arnia Software is the longest job I had so far, and it is still going because I am surrounded by a group of great people that I call my friends. Arnia is my family away from my family.

I think the biggest or stressful challenge I had was about 2 years ago when for almost 6 months I had to juggle 6 projects at the same time that were in maintenance. This took it out of me because every client was working on Monday and Tuesday to get a new list of changes or bugs and I they communicated it on Wednesday. And On Wednesday, all throughout the day, I hate to talk to each one of them to understand what they mean, to explain when the changes will be done and to convince them why it not a good idea to do some of the changes. Then, until the next list came in, I had to develop everything. I managed to do it, with ups and downs obviously, but I’m glad that period is over.

Envision Ecommerce: Being an active member of Magento Forums & Magento communities, what are the most common questions you encounter with Magento developers and store owners? Means what kind of common issues cause quite a problem among developers and store owners lately?

Marius: For store owners/managers is simple. Most of them struggle to understand how the configurable and bundle products are set up in Magento 1. I saw this on Magento Stack Exchange and in real life. 100% of the clients I’ve worked with had this problem.

For Developers is not that easy. I would say that a lot of questions are related to checkout customization, product prices and doing all kind of frontend tricks, but you can find a lot of questions related to anything.

Envision Ecommerce: As a 2 x Magento Master, how do you envision the future of Magento after the release of Magento 2? How do you think Magento 2 will impact the eCommerce industry?

Marius: I don’t like to make predictions. I just go with the flow. One thing is certain. The release of Magento 2 spawned some controversial opinions in the community. Some people embrace it, others dismissed it. I’m sure that Magento 2 will impact the e-commerce industry but overall I’m not sure if for the best or not. I’m hoping for the best of course.

Envision Ecommerce: We noticed your last Ultimate module creator with a Version 1.9.6.0 – October 27th, 2015 (from your blog), do you still write Magento Modules? What is your suggestion to all those who write Magento Modules?

Marius: I have been working on Magento modules. I put together a sample CRUD module for Magento2 (that might be outdated now, not sure). And I’m continuing the work on the UMC for Magento 2. With a different approach and a different architecture. I’ve just released the beta version of the module. It does not do yet what the Magento 1 version does. It only generates the files needed for the backend to work. I hope I have the time to work on the additional modules that will generate the API, frontend files, catalog entities relations. Don’t hold your breath.

As for advice for the extension developers, nothing fancy, just the usual. Follow the Magento standards, don’t reinvent the wheel and keep it simple.

Envision Ecommerce: Share your most memorable awards and achievements in your professional life till date?

Marius: The Masters awards are by far the ones that give me the warmest feeling. It means a lot to me that my work and my spare time invested into the community is recognized. Other than that, I haven’t received any award since high-school. But these are far away. I can barely remember.

Envision Ecommerce: As a part of our interview process, we request you to share a picture of your workstation or the best moment that you have captured in any events. Please share.

Marius: Here is how my desk looks like. Very tidy, right?

Let me explain the items in there.

• Laptop, extra monitor, mouse and headset. These are obvious. I will not explain further.

• Some tea in case I’m thirsty or get a cold.

• A tennis ball from Acquia that I got at Imagine 2017 hoping I will get it signed by Serena Williams. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out as I wanted it.

• A picture frame saying “Sarcasm Loading… Please wait”. A present from one of my colleagues. I don’t understand why 🙂

• A ping-pong paddle. We have a ping-pong table at the office. I use it occasionally.

• On the right side near the monitor, there is a stack of papers and a pen. No, I don’t take notes on them. Other than Magento.stackexchange I like to take a look from time to time on https://puzzling.stackexchange.com/ (don’t click if you don’t want to get addicted) where I try to solve various puzzles. Most of them math related.

Work station

Envision Ecommerce: As a well-reputed member of Magento Stackexchange for more than 4 years, what are some of the most significant benefits of using Stackexchange? And how do you compare Stackexchange with other Magento forums and communities?

Marius: Stackoverflow (including the StackExchange network) is a developer tool. You are a developer you go there for answers.

The benefits are obvious. There is a high chance that you are not the first that has a certain problem. If you don’t find a solution you can at least get a hint from StackOverflow.

The difference from blogs or forums is the gamification. You help other people by solving their problems or by asking good questions and you get badges and fake internet points. This gives you a feeling of satisfaction but it also makes you addicted.

Envision Ecommerce: Marius, we know you have been blogging. So when did you start blogging? As you said, “I think I’m better with code than with words” – in one of your blogs, so can you please share with our readers some of the secrets behind your blogging logic?

Marius: There is no secret and no logic. I started that blog a few years ago when someone accidentally deleted 300 of my posts on the old Magento forum. The blog was supposed to be a backup for my forum posts. After my posts got deleted I thought that each time I offer a solution to a problem and post it on the forum I would post a copy of it on my blog. But since magento.stackexchange.com came along I kind of neglected my blog. I added 2 posts lately that are not tech related. I did that after I saw that a lot of people blog about their experiences at Imagine 2017 so I decided to share mine. You should not follow the blog, it does not have much future.

Envision Ecommerce: You have attended many Magento-centric events, like Meet Magento, Magento Imagine, Meet Magento Romania, MageTitans Italy, etc. Which Magento-centric event have you attended lately? Please share your experience and what are the benefits of attending such event?

Marius: Last one was Magento Imagine 2017 in April and before that, it was Meet Magento Romania 2015 in October. These are my favorite events. By far the biggest benefit of such an event is the networking part. I get to meet the friends and chat with them on the internet. And, you get to meet the Magento team members. You get to see that they are regular people and quite friendly.

The fact that you can see awesome presentations is just the side-effect 🙂

Envision Ecommerce: After talking a lot about your professional life, let’s move on to your personal interests, how you spend your time besides work?

Marius: I spend most of my spare time with my family. My wife and my 4-year-old son. We play a lot of board games because my son enjoys them very much.

Starting mid-July I will start saying “with my wife and my sons”.

Other than that, I play tennis once a week and from time to time football.

I also enjoy reading, but I don’t have much time to do it, so I just do it on my way to and back from work in the subway.

Envision Ecommerce: We found something about you, “Always Be Yourself! Unless You Can Be Marius Then Always Be Marius!” 🙂 – What would you like to say about this?

Marius: Yeah. That. I was hoping people forgot about it. I all started as a joke made by my friend David Manners on Twitter and then Sander Mangel continued it suggesting that should be on a t-shirt. Someone, Fabian Blechschmidt took it seriously and made a t-shirt. With friends like them, who needs enemies?

So, this is what exactly we get to know about Marius Strajeru. We at Envision Ecommerce hope that this conversation is sufficient to inspire all the Magento developers & newbies out there to attain such great heights like Marius.