Migrating your website to a new agency can be a daunting and challenging process. You need reassurance that your newly selected partner has both the experience and processes in place to work collaboratively with your incumbent agency to support your site migration.
With over 20 years’ experience in the creation of web solutions, we’ve inherited many established websites from other web agencies, continually refining our migration processes. Throughout this blog, we will share with you the steps we take to ensure a pain-free transition for our clients, helping you prepare for what to expect when switching agencies and migrating your website.
“Fail to plan, plan to fail” - a well-known expression that’s never truer than for a website migration. A successful site handover relies on effective working between you, and both your new and legacy web agency. Following a well-defined migration process is fundamental in setting your partnership up for long term success.
At this stage in your migration project, expectations will be set, migration plans will be shared, specific actions will be documented, and other specific deliverables could well be defined.
Through a comprehensive onboarding process, you should expect your web agency to get ‘under the hood’ of your website, ensuring a strong, technologically sound foundation from which to work. It’s highly likely that findings from this site audit phase will form immediate actions and future recommendations for your website. For us, gaining insight that feeds into the development a long-term, iterative improvement strategy really does begin from day one.
The Technical Site Audit
An extremely important part of your site migration, the technical site audit not only allows your new agency to really understand how your website is built, but a comprehensive audit completed by an experienced developer will also:
- Identify security flaws
- Identify major performance issues
- Check site stability
- Familiarise the development team with your website and code
- Uncover areas where best practice has changed or become inconsistent
- Discover opportunities and threats for future development
- Develop a plan that considers any technical debt
- Enable us to accurately quote and estimate for future enhancements
Covering each of these points in detail allows actions to be documented and prioritised. For example, it was through our technical audit that we identified security flaws and performance issues for a new client, Ongo. These findings then fed into prioritised recommendations, informing the migration plan and enabling us to migrate Ongo’s site without unknown issues arising to ensure a seamless transition.
Your website infrastructure and hosting could also be a cause for concern which could be solved as part of the migration itself. When we initially onboarded our client Circuit, they were suffering from an unstable website that was unable to cope with the influx of up to 20,000 new users per day that they experienced at the start of each academic year. Through our technical audit, we got to the bottom of Circuit’s stability and security issues, subsequently focusing our efforts on hosting, infrastructure, and load testing to ensure optimum performance of their newly migrated site.
Front-end code audit
Furthermore, the web development industry is moving fast towards website platforms that are highly tuned for SEO, fast loading times, Single Page Applications (SPAs) and Progressive Web Applications (PWAs). This means it has become increasingly important to look at the factors that help or hinder.
A common risk of a site migration is the impact on your online visibility. It’s important that your web agency has sufficient knowledge to protect your SEO rankings and traffic throughout the migration process.
Being part of idhl – the connected agency Group – we’re able to leverage the SEO expertise of our colleagues at WMG, mitigating SEO migration risk and ensuring every aspect of your site migration is looked after by specialists. Following a robust process, we consider the impact on your SEO pre, during and post-migration:
- Pre-Website Migration: Conducting SEO checks, our experts crawl your site, conduct redirect mapping and performance benchmarking to find any issues that need addressing.
- During Website Migration: During the site migration, they will continue to track and report on any changes, conducting further technical SEO auditing along the way. Search Console recommendations and redirect checks are also taken into account at this stage.
- Ongoing monitoring: Once the migration has been successfully completed, our specialists will review your rankings, monitor traffic and conduct index status checks to ensure your SEO performance doesn’t slip.
Google Analytics audit
The portal that provides visibility of exactly how your website is performing, it’s critical to ensure that your Google Analytics account is set up properly with accurate data reporting. Leaning on the support of the SEO specialists at WMG, we can also conduct a detailed Google Analytic account audit, covering a 60-point checklist focused on:
- Identifying potential misattribution in your traffic, goals and revenue
- Ensuring key data, including goals and revenue, are correctly tracked from your website
- Discovering potential issues within your Google Analytics settings
- Understanding how potential issues can be resolved to improve data accuracy
From the completed Analytics audit, we’re able to provide recommendations and fixes that can be split, where relevant, between ourselves and your digital team.
Brand and UX workshops
Technical elements are not the only thing we consider during onboarding. We take the time to really get to grips with not only your website, but your business and vision too. That’s why we recommend involving your key stakeholders in a brand and UX workshop, allowing your web development agency to truly immerse themselves in your brand. In our experience, this enables us to become that pivotal extension of your digital team and underpins a strong partnership from the off.
The objectives of this workshop are to:
- Allow your agency to facilitate a full introduction to your brand, understanding your history, the landscape you operate in and your digital and commercial objectives.
- Work together to further define your audience types, understanding what areas of the site are a priority for improvement and unearth new areas to inform future strategy.
Typically, our brand and UX workshops take around four to five hours, following a pre-agreed yet bespoke agenda and involving between six and twelve stakeholders (but this number really depends upon your business).
A brand and UX workshop is also very effective at bringing to light areas of your site which need improvement and that could subsequently form part of your retainer work.
Ready for long term success
Whatever your reason for moving agencies, the site migration is just the start of this budding new partnership. The findings from our technical audits and brand workshops often feed into the iterative development and an ongoing roadmap for your site which continues beyond migration. However, a smooth transition and successful migration create the best possible starting place before further investment in your website. Our experiences with Hodder Education, Ongo and Circuit are perfect examples of this.
Unhappy with the previous level of attention and the quality of support received from their agency, Hodder went out to the top UK Kentico partners, choosing us as their new agency after a lengthy selection process.
We have now been working with them for two years and in that time we’ve completed a reskin of their Rising Stars site, implemented on-site purchase of dynamic learning, upgraded major external APIs and integration points for GDPR, and we are now in the final stages of a full redesign of their main site.
After five years with their incumbent agency, Ongo were ready for a change. After searching for a proactive Umbraco web agency who could provide a long-term partnership, they chose us, and we successfully migrated their site.
Conducting a UX workshop and focus group to explore UX improvements, we discovered issues with Ongo’s accessibility which led to an accessibility audit and review of their search functionality. All of this valuable insight has fed into iterative site improvements and we have since started work on a second phase redesign which includes:
- Accessibility improvements to colours and fonts
- Rebuild of the header, footer and navigation based on the new designs
- Site restructure in line with the updated navigation system
Suffering from an unstable site prone to crashing, we were originally brought on to migrate Circuit’s website to Umbraco. Once this was complete, and with stability no longer an issue, they asked us to rebuild and redesign their whole site to clarify their offering, reduce queries and make their top-up system a straightforward process.
Since, we have proceeded to implement small enhancements to their reporting functionality, added data structures, undertaken Umbraco updates and implemented PayPal account changes. Circuit are currently undergoing a rebrand, with our design and UX team redesigning their existing site in line with this.
If you’ve made the decision to switch agency, whatever your reason may be, and have a website migration on the horizon, contact the team at NetConstruct and we’d be happy to provide guidance on how to take the next steps.
Working with you, we create a project migration plan that details each step of the process including deadlines, responsibilities and any site downtime. Taking this approach allows us to plan ahead and keep you in the loop so as to be as undisruptive as possible to your business.