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How to Smoothly Migrate Website to New CMS

In the early days of the internet, business websites were essentially sets of static pages that served more as digital brochures than audience engagement platforms. For most companies that was true, anyway. Why? Because updating and enhancing a web page once it was published was a complex process that businesses simply didn’t have the time or resources to handle. 

Websites took a tremendous leap forward with the development of the user-friendly content management systems (CMS). Today, anyone within an organization can use a CMS to quickly and easily add to, edit, or delete website content—no programming knowledge required!

And this ability to keep content fresh, interesting, and engaging has made websites much more useful to customers and prospective customers alike. As a result, they tend to return to a site again and again, which is great for business.  

Of course, while using a CMS is simple, migrating a website to a new CMS-driven platform takes some work, including a fair amount of upfront planning. Having a thoughtfully crafted strategy is especially important if you want the migration to go smoothly—and you definitely want the migration to go smoothly! 

The last thing you need is to get to your new platform only to find that your website is behaving erratically or crashing altogether and, as a result, alienating the very people you’re hoping your new-and-improved site will attract and impress.

Key Considerations for Migrating Your Website

If you’re going to invest the time and money to migrate to a new CMS-driven website platform like WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, Shopify, or BigCommerce, you want to be sure that your investment pays off. Below are some things to consider before you start your website migration.

How is your website being used today? 

Keep in mind that you may have multiple types of users, each with different wants and needs. For example, your website might be used by prospects for one purpose, existing customers for another, and your business partners for yet another purpose. Plus, your employees may use the site, as well. 

You need to understand what everyone is getting from your site today before you move forward. Intentionally or inadvertently taking away functionality that one or more groups rely on will result in you getting some very… let’s say “heated”… emails from irritated users!

What new or modified functionality are you wanting from your CMS-driven website? 

You want to be as specific as possible in identifying and documenting what you’re after. For example, it may be true that you want “better website performance” for your customers, but it’s more helpful to explain that you need your new site to generate quotes and process orders more quickly since some potential customers bail out of purchases on your existing site out of frustration. 

Also, your “wish list” should include website attributes that you need right away as well as features and functions that you can envision needing down the road. It can be a serious drain on your resources—not to mention deflating for your customers, prospects, and employees—to complete a migration and, in a year or two, be forced to migrate again to a new platform that will accommodate needs you hadn’t thought about previously. 

What website platform and CMS will best suit your operations and achieve your goals?

Several website platforms provide the kinds of features and functions that businesses tend to need. But which one best meets your requirements? It’s important to first develop a checklist for your ideal platform. It should include characteristics that cover the spectrum, from functionality to cost. Understanding modern digital technologies requires deep expertise. If you aren’t sure if your checklist addresses everything that it should, speaking to experts with these deep understandings is recommended.  

Once you have your checklist, you can use it to guide your research. It’s best to start by identifying the platforms that seem, at a high level, to be candidates. From there, you can get more selective to create your platform “shortlist.” At that point, it’s a good idea to schedule demos with all of the remaining providers. It’s one thing to read about a CMS, and another thing entirely to see it in action. 

How can assistance from website migration specialists make your life easier?

Even if you have an internal IT group with the expertise needed to migrate your website, it may be that their time is better spent on other business initiatives. If so, that’s not a problem, as you can get insights and assistance from a team at MarkedQuery that specializes in migrations. 

Because we’re continually immersed in re-platforming projects, we’re well-versed in the processes, technologies, and best practices required for hassle-free website migrations. Plus, we can do more than just streamline your transition. We also provide services like website development (to help you get the most from your new site), mobile development (iOS, Android, or hybrid solutions), and analytics and insight (to help you make the most of the data you gather).

Resisting the Urge to “Just Get There”

It’s not uncommon for an organization to reluctantly come to grips with the fact that their current website is no longer supporting their business the way it should and then suddenly feel the urgent need to migrate to a new platform. But if you find yourself in this situation, you must not act hastily. 

The goal of upgrading to a site that fully meets the needs of all your stakeholders is a good one—no question about it! But taking the approach that you’ll “just get there” and then fine-tune the site later can come back to haunt you. In many cases, a reckless migration is more damaging than not migrating at all. 

We strongly encourage our clients to take their time, develop a migration strategy using all of the resources at their disposal, and then move methodically through the migration process. That way, when the new site goes live, there is very little tweaking that needs to be done, and customers, prospects, business partners, and employees can immediately enjoy an enhanced and optimized user experience.

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