With the End Of Life for Drupal 7 now in sight, the need to migrate to a new platform – whether Drupal 8 or WordPress, or another content management system – is becoming more pressing.
What is Drupal “End Of Life”?
End Of Life doesn’t mean your existing Drupal 7 website will cease to function over night: it means that official security updates will cease, making it riskier and riskier for your Drupal website to remain online.
“What should we do next?” and “What about Drupal 8?” are questions we have heard from our web design clients for quite some time now, and, as usual, the true answer is “it depends” – on your current website, future plans for it, and budget.
Your options for updating Drupal 7
As the owner of a Drupal 7 website, you have a few options for updating and migrating your website available to you:
- Migrate to Drupal 8 (or Drupal 9), which promises smoother upgrades in future, and maintains a “Drupal” feel to managing your content, which may be desirable if your website team is very familiar with the platform. Whilst it’s possible to migrate your content to newer versions of Drupal, you will find functionality and the design will need recreating from scratch in many cases. Drupal 8 continues to be open source, meaning it is free to use without a license fee for individual and corporate uses, and the Drupal community continues to be active around the world.
- Migrating to a proprietary or custom-built content management system (CMS). For complex websites this may be a good option in some circumstances, but can be costly both for the initial build of the website, and the ongoing maintenance of the website. Beware of being tied in to a specific web design agency with proprietary software – they can be difficult for other web developers to take over and manage on your behalf.
- Migrating to WordPress. WordPress is open source, like Drupal, so there are no license fees to pay, and its content management experience has improved greatly since we first started working with it in 2006. It is able to handle membership areas, ecommerce, and custom content types to help make the management of even large, complex websites easier.
As an agency who has worked with a huge range of content management and ecommerce management systems for websites, we feel WordPress now offers:
- the best combination of functionality
- easier (and thus cheaper) maintenance of the website
- a great community worldwide, meaning development costs can be lower as functionality can often be found and reused for our clients.
We are largely keen proponents of the latter option here: migrating to WordPress. Of course, every client is different, and WordPress is certainly not right for every website: it’s worth talking to our web consultants to see what’s right for you.
What a Drupal 7 to WordPress migration entails
Peacock Carter have been migrating Drupal 7 websites to WordPress and other content management platforms for quite some time now, and have expertise in handling:
- Content migration (pages and news posts)
- Redesigning – or recreating – your website in to a mobile-friendly WordPress theme reflecting your brand and offering visitors a smooth user experience
- Custom content migration (e.g., portfolio entries, case studies)
- Moving membership areas and membership lists
- Recreating old functionality and workflows from your Drupal website in WordPress
- Files (images, documents, etc) migration to WordPress
- Product / category / order / customer migrations for ecommerce websites
As you can see, there are many areas of migrating from Drupal 7 to WordPress, and the process requires a web development agency with experience and know-how to be smooth.
When dealing with new web design clients, one topic that crops up regularly is how we can migrate content from an old website system in to a new platform such as WordPress.
As with many web development tasks, there are many ways to address the challenge of moving all of your content, files and images to a new website platform – and potentially a new web server, too. We take a look at the options available to businesses wanting to move their website to WordPress – a process known as migration.
Why move to WordPress?
There are a number of good reasons to move your website to WordPress:
- Moving to WordPress can potentially reduce your ongoing website support costs by allowing you to manage a lot of your own website’s content
- Migrating can also save on potentially expensive license fees for proprietary content management systems – WordPress is free to use, open source software
- Your staff are already familiar with the WordPress platform
We love WordPress at Peacock Carter for providing a solid base for building all variety of websites, from simple brochure websites, to ecommerce websites and membership databases.
Of course, before we begin – if you’re attempting this yourself, please make sure you back up files and database of your previous website before attempting anything!
1. Migrate your website manually – copy and pasting!
This is one – very painstaking and slow – way to move your website to WordPress, and we wouldn’t recommend it! Copy-and-pasting your website’s content in to a new WordPress installation is one way to migrate your website, but it’s a potentially long and painful experience.
Copy-and-pasting your website is prone to introducing errors in to your content, and you may miss content that isn’t publicly visible (such as draft content which hasn’t been posted yet) doing it this way.
2. Use a WordPress migration plugin
WordPress is open source software and is also free to use, and supported by a huge worldwide community who contribute extra features you can add to your website, known as “plugins”.
Some plugins are definitely better than others, but we highly recommend the WP All Import plugin if you’re going to attempt it yourself – it makes it about as easy as it can be to migrate even larger websites to WordPress. No plugin can deal with every content import situtation, though, so you may find limitations in even the premium plugins which call for a little help from a WordPress developer.
3. Ask the WordPress experts
Peacock Carter have migrated countless websites to WordPress since we started in 2006, from custom built content management systems, to Drupal, Weebly, Wix and Shopify. Each platform comes with its own challenges when migrating to WordPress, and as experienced web developers, we can work with you to solve them.
Web design projects can go awry for many reasons. Perhaps the agency you’ve employed misunderstood your brief; the specification was wrong; the agency didn’t have the skills it claimed to have; the project is more complicated than anticipated; the agency has lost a key member of staff.
Whatever the reason web design projects going wrong can be very stressful – it can delay product launches, marketing campaigns, and disappoint your customers. So, what can you do when a web design project goes wrong?
As a web design agency who have been around for over 10 years, we see a lot of “web design rescue” projects coming in. This article is aimed to help you detect the “bad smells” of a project going wrong, and how to rescue the project, based on our experiences.
Bad web design project smells
The first trick in your arsenal is to detect a bad – or potentially bad – project. One or two of the below indicators may occur in any given web design project, but if you nod your head at the majority of the below, your web design project may be in trouble:
- Long times between contact: are you struggling to contact your assigned project manager? Do team members take a long time to reply to emails? We’re all busy, but if you’ve lost your communication lines with the team working on your website, your project may be turning sour.
- A lot of what you were promised in initial meetings with the agency is now “unachievable” in the budget. Web design agencies can be guilty of over-selling, and once you have committed may try and reduce the features and scope of the project to keep the project sustainable for them. There are many genuine technical reasons an agency may decline a particular feature, however.
- Deadlines pass without contact – projects can overrun, but you should be informed ahead of a deadline if it won’t be made.
- Work presented is hugely different from the specification or project brief you had approved. Communication is a large factor in any project’s success, and it can cause huge misunderstandings in how your project develops. Bear in mind your web design agency may be working in a sector they’re not familiar with, which brings its whole new dictionary of jargon and acronyms; you may need to clarify how your industry works, and key processes within it.
- Poor quality control: if you’re receiving work of poor quality, it may be down to the agency’s quality control processes. Bugs are a natural part of any technical project, and no project is ever “bug free”, but agencies should be aiming to minimise the bugs in a system in a consistent process.
How to rescue your web design project
Every project is different, but there are many common factors in “bad” web design projects, as you’ve seen above. Below is a list of suggestions to help you rescue your web design project:
- Talk to your web design agency: this may seem obvious, but let your existing agency know you’re unhappy, and work with them to resolve it. Whilst transferring your project to a new web design agency may seem tempting, this can often over-complicate the issue and delay the project further. This is because the new agency will need to get up to speed on the project, and work out what is complete, and what is in need of rewriting or additional work. For simpler issues, therefore, it can be best to stick with your existing agency to complete the project.
- Mediate; if talking directly to your web design agency isn’t working, trying contacting a third party web design consultant who can help ascertain the state of the current project from a technical viewpoint, and where the issues lie.
- Consult other agencies: we offer website audits which can give you an idea of the state of the work that has been completed, and where you stand. These can be a great way of maintaining your relationship with the agency, and providing a guiding hand in ensuring you’re receiving work of a good quality to your requirements.
- Build on the existing project, or start it again? This is a question we’re asked frequently for “web design project rescue” scenarios – should you keep the work completed so far, and have another agency build on that, or start again?
- Most of all, try and remain calm – work with your agency, rather than – in all likelihood, they will want the project to succeed just as much as you do.
Need help to rescue your website project?
If you’d like to discuss how we can help you rescue your web design project, please do get in touch. Peacock Carter have over 10 years experience in mediation and auditing web design projects to help resolve issues between clients and agencies.
Peacock Carter have had a bumper year in 2016 thanks to some fantastic clients, and we look forward to working with you in 2017 and beyond.
We’re winding down over the Christmas and New Year period to give our team a chance to have a break and come back refreshed in 2017. As such, our office will be closed during this period:
Our office closes: 15:00, Wednesday, 21st December 2016.
Our office reopens: 09:30, Wednesday 4th January 2017.
If you have a support contract with us, urgent issues will be dealt with as soon as we are able during this period; please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
What a great way to start the week: our copy of Introducing SEO arrived today!
Peacock Carter’s managing director Richard Carter acted as technical reviewer for the publication, overseeing that the content was technically correct and relevant to contemporary readers. Richard has worked on a long list of publications in the past decade and beyond, and has built a strong reputation as a specialist web consultant for work such as technical reviewing of web design and search engine marketing related content.
Published by specialist technology publisher Apress, Introducing SEO is aimed at readers who aren’t familiar with the fundamentals of search engine optimisation, and introduces key search engine concepts such as indexability, content optimisation and social media and its effect on SEO.
We look forward to working on future technical reviews of website design and ecommerce publications in coming months and years.
If you’re considering entering your business-to-business market with an ecommerce website, there are a number of key areas to consider.
As a long-established web design agency with our fair share of business-to-business ecommerce experience, here’s our introductory guide to B2B ecommerce.
1. Chose your platform – and B2B agency – carefully
There are many ecommerce platforms available to businesses entering the ecommerce arena, but they are not all made equal. Peacock Carter work a lot with Magento Commerce and its licensed sister version, Magento Enterprise. Both can be readily adapted for use as a business-to-business ecommerce system. Oro Commerce is also worth consideration as an open source ecommerce platform specifically aimed at the B2B market.
You may also want to consider services such as Shopify (a hosted ecommerce platform with a monthly fee) though we find these are not typically suited well to B2B use. WooCommerce, WordPress’ most popular ecommerce offering, is also available, though we find this platform lacks many of the features of more developed ecommerce offerings such as Magento.
Finding the right B2B agency for your organisation is also key: it could well be a long partnership, so finding a web design agency who have the right approach. Sector experience isn’t necessarily key if the agency has the right technical approaches and the ability to research and adapt to your industry.
2. Niche can work well
As with “offline” business, niche offerings can greatly enhance your appeal and selling power to customers in ecommerce.
If you’re looking to test the water in your B2B sector, selecting a small product range to launch with and test the water can be a good way to mitigate some of the risk. In particular, large product catalogues can take a great deal of time and money to digitise, as content designed for offline brochures and marketing collateral often doesn’t translate well for online use.
Once you have the formula for success with the initial range of products, you can try enlarging your product catalogue online.
3. Integrate ecommerce in to your business processes
A key point missed by many entering the B2B ecommerce market is integrating existing business systems with your ecommerce systems. For example, if you’re using a CRM such as Salesforce in your other sales operations, integrate Salesforce in to your ecommerce store.
Most popular ecommerce platforms have significantly well developed integrations with common accountancy packages such as Xero and Sage, too, and platforms such as Brightpearl can be used to centralise stock control between multiple warehouses, amongst other tasks. Integrating your ecommerce website with existing processes not only saves you time and reduces errors and redundant data, but can streamline your processes and provide your customers with a smoother experience all round, too.
4. Consider your ecommerce audience
It’s worth considering that the type of customer who you interact with in offline and other sales channels may not be your typical ecommerce customer. For example, whilst you may deal with CEOs, procurement officers and managing directors through offline sales channels, your online sales channel may attract a different role from within the company. This is partly because a B2B ecommerce offering allows the task of purchasing to be delegated to another department within the customer’s company, even for larger purchases such as specialist equipment and machinery.
As such, ensuring that any technical specification and industry jargon used is likely to be known by the audience is key.
5. Provide your ecommerce customers with the right information
Businesses can be reluctant to share information with their customers online for fear of revealing too much to competitors. Whilst this is understandable in a competitive industry, not providing your customers with the information they need to make a purchase decision could well cause your entry in to B2B ecommerce to fail before your website has even launched.
Sharing carefully selected insights in to your industry in the form of blog posts can be a great tactic for digital marketing, establishing your company as the industry leader.
If you would like to discuss your next B2B ecommerce project with Peacock Carter, please contact us for an initial consultation.