Within the past few months we have been called in to help with a process of rescue and recovery for a worrying number of ecommerce website migrations that have gone seriously wrong.The scale of the problem appears to be getting worse. Given the half dozen examples we are aware of, the factors that have contributed are:1. Business owners being seduced by web-design company fancy graphics into agreeing to swap their ‘boring and tired old websites’ for some shiny new eye candy.2. Web design companies not having the depth and breadth of ecommerce knowledge and often outsourcing work overseas.3. Suppliers not fully understanding all the component parts of migration and having processes and systems in place to mitigate against performance downturns.
Website migration is made up of the following components:Hosting Migration: Because web design companies have favoured hosting suppliers, a change of website can include a complete change to the way an ecommerce website is hosted. A change of hosting can have significant impacts on how well a website is able to quickly serve-up content during both steady-state and spike situations. This in turn can have significant consequences for SEO rankings or performance overseas. The type of CDN has important implications for security and, possibly for PCI compliance. A business owner may well take a primary focus on headline costs without fully understanding the full set of consequences involved in a change of hosting. Just one example we have recently had to deal with is with is the new Magento Enterprise Cloud Edition hosting which requires websites to be coded in a different way to being served from a traditional Magento hosting solution.Software Migration: This often involves a change of CMS. Moving from Magento 1 to Magento 2 involves a totally different CMS which in turn may require different business processes and training support. Different platforms will make use of different plugin add-ons and extensions as well as a possible change of language and functionality. Connecting to third party services that undertake activities such as price optimisation or supply chain operations may no longer work in the same way. All of these things can have significant consequences for the business.Domain Migration: We have had to help two companies that, as part of getting a shiny new website decided to swap the .co.uk extension to a .com extension following third party advice that this would help with their internationalisation. In each case their SEO completely collapsed. On top of that, nobody had properly checked to investigate any blacklisting for the new domain. In one case, the new domain had been used as part of an adult content network which meant that some of the broadband service providers had disallowed access. Around 10% of their potential customers could not even see the website because it was blocked by the ISPs.Template Migration: When web agencies have had to compete on price for work this will inevitably mean that they will be making use of an off-the-shelf template. While this may be the only way that they can meet the budget requirements, this can often mean that there is a mismatch between the business requirements of the customer and the functionality of the template. While the agencies salesperson may be happy to gloss over some of these details in order to win the project, the full scope of the mismatch may only become clear at around launch time.Content Migration: Because of the inevitability of using templates, these can impose constraints on the way site content is categorised. Probably the easiest to understand is in the ways that a menu operates. To meet the requirements of responsive design, menuing systems invariably impose constraints on the depth and breadth of the content tree which defines the site structure. To fit in with these constraints, web designers will change content structures without fully working through the full business or technical consequences that result.Design Migration: The majority of ecommerce customers really care very little for the aesthetic appearance of a website. What they look for is evidence of trust, top-class usability so they can quickly and easily find and buy what they want and clear answers to any questions they may have along the way. While a business owner may think their old design to be boring and tired, that same design to a customer comes across as familiar and hence trusted. Rather than argue the point, anyone who disagrees may do well to just take a look at sites like Amazon or eBay. However beautiful a new concept design might be for these sites, the inevitable result would always be reduced sales performance.SEO Migration: (see here). For us, this has been one of the most migration components that we have had to deal with. Following a migration, many ecommerce businesses have had to cope with SEO collapses of between 20% and 60%. One very unfortunate recent Scottish example is likely to put the company out of business. What’s most worrying is that the business advisors that often work alongside the client do not have the technical experience to ensure that these disasters are avoided.INDEZ is in the process of launching a new Ecommerce Rescue, Recovery and Turnaround service. The service is aimed at those businesses that have suffered business damage resulting from poor website migrations. The key to correction is early intervention. Speedy remedial action can halt a slide in SEO losses or loss of site conversion resulting from a usability issue.