Avoiding Technical Headaches – Tips for Migrating to a New Website

Migrating your website can be a real hassle. And if it is done poorly, the result can reflect poorly on your company. In addition to migrating to a new site, you may also be migrating to a new hosting provider. Migrating a DNS can also lead to other problems like email issues and breaking of internal processes.

So how do you plan to make sure it goes smoothly? Make sure you ask the right questions, have a solid migration plan, and triple check everything. Here are some things to help you evaluate and interview new firms to ensure a smooth transition.

Understand the Technology

Current site:

  • Do you have access to the current site’s files?
  • Your current site is built on a technology platform. Do you own the platform?
  • Is it portable?
  • Can you extract your content out of it for use in the new system?

Proposed Site:

  • What platform will be used?
  • Is the technology platform standard or is it a rarely used platform that only that vendor can support?
  • Is it proprietary?
  • Will it scale to suit your future needs?
  • How much maintenance will it need and who will provide the maintenance?
  • Where is it hosted? Is it in a secure facility with redundant connectivity?
  • What is the backup policy and cost?

Design and Development Process

Another big issue is the design and development process. Again, know what questions to ask is half of the battle.

Site Design and Development:

  • How many revisions are included in the design quote?
  • Is it an hourly or a project bid? How will scope changes be handle?
  • What documentation will be provided?
  • Who will be your project manager?
  • Where will the work be done? Does the firm use outsourced development?
  • What will the vendor need from you?
  • What are the phases and milestones of the project?
  • How will the site be tested? Will there be stress testing done (for higher traffic sites)?

Ongoing Support

How will the vendor support the site after it is built?

  • Is there a support contract? What does it include?
  • What types of changes are considered support requests and what are considered new development projects?
  • What type of response time will there be in fixing problems?
  • Is there a training provided for the site (content management systems or other site technology)?
  • Who will be the lead contact for support?

Beta and Test Sites

Generally, there will be a “beta” period where the client can review the site and the developer will make adjustment and fix bugs. Some vendors will provide testing sites for the client to view before the site goes live. This is very important to ensure a quality site will be launched. Make sure the site is tested on multiple browsers and also on mobile devices.

Launch!

A clean launch is the most important task in migrating to a new site. Again, planning for this day is the key to a successful launch.

[note class=”info”]The project should have a launch date and the site should be launched during off peak times if possible. It’s not good practice to launch a site right before the weekend or a holiday because it may be difficult to get the right developer involved if there are issues with the site during off peak hours.[/note]

DNS – To switch to a new hosting environment, there will need to be DNS changes. This should be planned in advance and discussed because this part can cause other issues in your environment with things like email and internal processes. Keep in mind that it takes time for DNS changes to propagate throughout the internet and both sites will probably need to be active for some period of time. I recommend putting up a maintenance message on the old site first if you have to migrate a database. Having two active sites feeding into a database can cause problems with users caught in between the migration.

The biggest tip is planning. Making sure you know the entire process and it covers all of the bases can keep you from having a major migration headache.