The Cheeky Monkey Media Blog
A few words from the apes, monkeys, and various primates that make up the Cheeky Monkey Super Squad.
What is a site migration? As an agency that provides website design, development, and marketing services & solutions to its clients, we like to define website migration as any event whereby a website undergoes substantial changes in areas that can significantly affect search engine visibility. This can include changes to the site’s location, platform, structure, content, design, or UX.
Migrations are never easy, neither is choosing the right agency. If you thought designing and building a website was difficult, migrating a website while trying to cull and reorganize existing content, adding features and functionality, while not losing search engine rankings, can be downright daunting. Cheeky Monkey Media takes migrations seriously and understands the process from start to finish, guiding you through the adventure at hand.
When you decide your website is going to be migrated, starting the process off on the right foot, with the right agency, will be the most important decision you will make during the entirety of this process. Agencies, such as ourselves, have seen migrations fail. The most common denominators for a failed migration start with a business choosing an agency that doesn’t align with their core wish list (key items), budget and timelines. This usually coincides with both parties not spending the very necessary and valuable time on strategic planning upfront.
As Monkeys, we love fun and games, but we can ensure you when it comes down to migrating your website, we take it very seriously. Here are our top 5 tips for success for making it through the Jungle!
1. Your Agency Partner
Partnering up with an agency that understands your needs as a business and the ultimate goals for your website is crucial. Working with an agency that grasps the risks involved, who have both failed and have been successful with migration projects, is definitely helpful. Migrations are complex and you will want to work with an agency that has taken all of your business goals/considerations into account before you begin any project.
Cheeky Monkey Media has done a multitude of migration projects for our clients over the last 12 years. From older versions of Drupal to each new Drupal version, from WordPress to Drupal, Drupal to WordPress, and various other CMS platforms to Drupal or WordPress, we understand the importance of employing the right core team to partner up with each unique client and/or business.
Pro-Tip: Regardless of who you decide to partner with, make sure they are on board with your business objectives/goals, culture, and voice. Like minds make the best partners.
2. Knowing Your Website
Once you have partnered with the right agency for you, it’s time for everyone involved to learn all that they can about your website and it’s goals. Our monkey troop recommends beginning with a complete site and/or content audit. This allows each team member to take a good look at your overall site health including content, links and SEO rankings.
A comprehensive look into your website’s inner workings will show us where user experience can be improved, where to begin with boosting your SEO rankings (think keywords, SEO-based information & relevant content/blogs) and how much of that content SHOULD be migrated (we don’t want to waste time and money on migrating broken links and useless content for example).
Consider the last time you moved and how much fun (or more accurately stressful) it was. Did you take everything and simply package it up and move it, or did you take stock of everything you have, including toys, clothes, tools, electronic equipment, etc. that you haven’t touched in 3 years and then execute a massive, strategic purge? We think yes. This approach should be considered in a website migration for the benefit of your users.
All content audits performed by Cheeky are truly collaborative. As the business/site owner, only you can truly decide what stays or goes here. We help by letting you know what your users think of your content by measuring traffic, engagement & interaction with each piece of content, then providing you with reports to help you identify what is or isn’t performing well.
Audits can also help us determine all of the unique aspects of your website, and the core areas we could and should focus on. You can read more about the benefits of a site/content audit from our previous blog ‘Be Audit You Can Be’.
Pro-Tip: Remember, no one knows more about your business and website purpose(s) better than you. Be passionately involved in each step along the way. Be loud, be proud, be heard.
03. Your money, Your time, Your wishes
Regardless of the size of your business, two factors never change with website migrations: Budget and timeline(s). These two factors play a large role with you selecting the right agency partner, one who listens to and understands your unique project needs. It is not uncommon for a business to discover that their original plan for their website migration does not align with their budget and timeline, or even the goals for the site. A dedicated agency partner should give you a realistic outline/quote regardless of what your budget and timeline are, and work with you to decide what can or cannot be achieved within those parameters.
A reliable partner will be a part of your team and use their professional skills to guide you through the migration process and help you understand all of the technical aspects of your site. This phase can take a lot of time and must be incorporated into your budget and timeframe, or you run the risk of derailing your migration. Your website generates revenue for your business and to help achieve the highest ROI, you will want to take your time, share your knowledge and site goals with all your team members, then map your journey thoroughly.
In the end, taking your time while maximizing your budget with a thoughtful approach, will not only save your sanity (and the marbles of your stakeholders), it will help you save money by not wasting precious resources and hours on tasks that are unnecessary or redundant.
Pro-Tip: Accept the fact that this project will never go as quickly as you would like. Good things come to those who take the time to do it right, the first time. Measure twice, cut once.
04. Mapping your journey
Having a well thought out and structured plan is easily one of the most important tasks for setting up a successful migration. Taking the time to map out what the process is going to look like from start to finish is key. Everything from discovery to migration to launch (and every stage in between), should be properly scoped out on a technical roadmap. It is important to note that your agency partner should also be setting up a post-launch plan as well, as your website will need to be regularly maintained to stay healthy, relevant and continuously improved throughout its lifespan. We recommend over communicating every step of the way. Clarity is so important during each and every phase of your project.
In Cheeky’s Discovery Phase, we assess the current site and all of its attributes. We then collaborate with your business and determine which attributes can be handled within Drupal or WordPress, which are unused, redundant or can be merged, along with any modules/plugins that need to be customized or built custom. We’ll then work with you to determine exactly what will be migrated over and where it will reside on the new site(s).
We always provide our clients with a documented plan as part of the deliverables of a migration project. This includes a summary of what is being migrated where and why, as well as what is being purged. Not only that, if a redesign of your website is part of the scope, we also include a document showcasing your new Information Architecture (content & functional requirements), and wireframes. After we work through the discovery and put together the initial and crucial documents, we finalize the budget and timeframe. When all documentation is reviewed, and approved, it’s go time.
Cheeky Monkey Media uses what we call an “additive development approach” within our production phases in order to migrate only the necessary content types, modules/plugins, taxonomy/category, etc, to a new Drupal or WordPress platform. By understanding what Drupal 8 or WordPress provides “out-of-the-box” and only adding what’s absolutely necessary, CMM will deliver sites that are as lightweight and fast, and secure and stable as possible, while maximizing user-experience for success on this objective.
As we start to progress, each stage is reviewed thoroughly by Cheeky Monkey, then presented to you for feedback and approval. With a joint QA process and a 30 day post launch warranty on all of our code, you can be assured of your site performing at its optimal levels.
Pro-Tip: There is no such thing as a stupid question here. Give honest feedback throughout the planning and scope process. Over communicate to stay on track with your entire team.
05. The Migration and beyond…
After all of the proper phases of your migration have been successfully executed, your site will be ready to enter cyberspace. With your launch date’s arrival, it will be important that a post launch plan is in place with your agency partner. This will allow you to sit back and fully enjoy your website’s launch.
Reporting at this stage is very important so all team members understand what is working better/faster while closely monitoring conversion rates. This is where all of the exhaustive planning should bear fruit, but testing, testing and then more testing will be necessary. Your agency will monitor your site’s traffic to ensure that your website is functioning as intended, including reporting on user experience. After all, it is likely that one of the main reasons you have done a migration is to enhance performance.
With active monthly monitoring, maintenance and security updates (Cheeky Monkey has 3 flexible options available), you can be rest assured knowing you and your business are doing all you can for optimizing your website’s health and keeping up to date on new functionality.
Pro-Tip: Your website should be exactly like getting your car tuned up. Regular, preventative site maintenance just makes “cents”. Stay secure, up to date and relevant by sticking with a monthly plan. Work smarter, not harder.
Let’s face it, no two migrations are ever the same. Just as you and your business are unique, so are the objectives, budget, and timeline of each website upgrade.
But…with proper planning and an agency who understands you and your project goals, a successful migration journey (regardless of the platform) becomes a lot more realistic. Clear communication throughout the entire process is absolutely key for the smoothest transition of your website from version to version.
Plan for success right from the start. Yes, it is a lot of upfront work, but you will not regret the time or money invested in enhancing your website to the best possible version that it can be.
Have a migration project pending? We would be happy to work alongside you and your team and help you successfully navigate the online jungle.
Pro -Tip: Remember, this is a very time consuming process, so don’t wait too long to get rolling! If you are on Drupal or thinking of Drupal, you can read our blog post on the importance of migrating to Drupal 8 before 9!