A website migration process can be needed if you’re moving your website to a new domain, a new hosting provider, a new content management system (CMS), or if you’re doing a complete redesign. If you are a small business owner or non-profit manager, however, you may find yourself confused by the various options available to you. Should you build a new website from scratch? Change your hosting? Change your domain? Change to a new CMS?
In this post, we help you take some of the guesswork out of your website migration process.
What Does Your Average Website Migration Process Look Like?
The confusing thing about a website migration process is that there isn’t is a standardized process that everyone uses. This is because a website migration can happen for any number of reasons, including:
- You want to redesign your website
- You’re unhappy with your hosting and want to try a new provider
- You want someone else to take over management of your website and so need to do a domain registration transfer
- You want to change from one CMS (i.e. Drupal) to another (i.e. WordPress)
The first thing you need to do when considering doing any of the above things is to figure out a website migration process that will solve the specific problem you’re trying to solve. Below are some common things that can go wrong and some tips for avoiding them.
Thing #1: Hosting or Domain Problems
When you change your website hosting or domain registration, it can disrupt your website services in several ways. There are a variety of hosting options for websites, for example, and you want to make sure that the package you’re getting from your new host is the same as, or better than, the package you currently have. In particular, you want to make sure you have the same memory allocation with your new hosting and that your website is hosted at the same level. In general, there are three different levels of hosting: shared, virtual private server (VPS), and private server. Each type of hosting provides for a speedier, more efficient website, but also costs considerably more.
When transferring domain registrations, you might also experience an interruption in service. This is because the domain registration transfer process is clunky with most hosting providers. Essentially, you have to unlock your domains with your old host, put in a request that your domain be transferred, wait for the transfer to go through, and then change the settings in your new host to point to your new website. Failure to do any of these essential steps can result in a dead website.
Thing #2: Content Problems
When migrating your website from one host, domain, or CMS to another, or when redesigning your site completely, you also need to think about content. Everything from links to text to images on your current site needs to be accounted for and a plan needs to be created for what will happen to it during and after the migration. In general, the options are: archive, revise, or develop.
If you choose to archive old content, you should make sure it’s backed up to a secure location that you can easily access, such as a Google Drive or Dropbox account. That way you can easily find it later if you decide you need to add some of it back to your website. If you choose to revise, you need to go through existing content and make a decision about what content is outdated and how you will update it. Finally, you may need to develop new content for your website to match the current status of your business or non-profit.
For help doing a content audit on your old website, check out our article on this topic:
Thing #3: Design Problems
A third thing that can go wrong with your website migration process is the design of the website itself. In general, you want to migrate to a website that is better than your old one. So, this is a natural time to think about elements such as your logo, the layout of your website, its features, and how customer or donors will interact with your new site.
Most importantly: you need to vet mockups and prototypes of your website before the migration even starts to make sure you have a good idea of what your new website will look like and how it will function. The worst thing that can happen with a website migration process is that the process is nearly complete and you realize you want to go a different direction with your new website. The later you are in the migration process, the more costly changes will be from a design standpoint.
Solution: Figure Out Your Migration Strategy Before You Start
Like our feathered friends, it pays to have a plan in place before you start your website migration process. You need to answer a lot of questions about what your goals are before you ever start moving your website. Things will go a lot smoother for you if you know where you’re headed before you commit to anything.