Do I Need To Replatform my Website?
You’re losing traffic. Your conversions and bounce rate are off the roof. Is this an issue within your marketing team? Or is there something else going on? Is it time to replatform your website?
Sometimes, battle-tested hardcore digital marketers will not be able to make up for your website’s poor performance. No matter how good the content and promotion—if the user experience of your website sucks, you’re not going to get anywhere near the top of Google search results. To get there, you’re going to need proper technical support to back up your content.
In this article, we’re going to go over some symptoms which may indicate whether you need to replatform your website. There are two ways of replatforming we’re going to discuss: replatforming by migrating everything at once and incremental, step-by-step migration.
The goal of this article is to help you understand the process of replatforming closer so that you can communicate your needs to developers more efficiently.
Replatform Your Website If:
- Your conversion and sales are going down
- Your bounce rate is going up
- Your website takes more than 3 seconds to load
- You’re getting less traffic
- You’re getting fewer clicks
So, before you fire your marketing team, take a few minutes to read this piece. This might just be what your business needs!
What is Replatforming & Why Replatform Your Website?
Replatforming is migrating your data to a different CMS. In recent times, Jamstack development has been the top approach for replatforming. Mostly, because it’s awesome. Business-wise, Jamstack brings many great advantages like improved page speed, better SEO performance and Google ranking, as well as improved security. In short, your website is faster, safer, and more stable.
If you’re interested in learning more about Jamstack, consider checking this article (but only once you’ve finished this one!)
Moving on, there could be hundreds of reasons to migrate your data to a different platform. However, the most prevailing reasons are:
- a clunky website
- a need for higher website speed
- need to improve customer experience
- need to improve SEO
And, as technology keeps moving forward, the businesses that are unaware of the new software solutions are simply falling behind.
Many new projects start the same way: on WordPress. However, with time, your website might get—to say the least—a little outdated. And, whether you’re running an eCommerce business or any other type of online business, you’re probably looking to remain competitive.
Meanwhile, you might be losing a large portion of your potential customers due to the slow load time of your website.
Fixing an old, clunky website can be a lot of work. What’s more, very often it’s not possible to make it competitive without migrating. So, in order to tune up the customer experience, you might just have to replatform.
That said, replatforming is can be a very cost-efficient investment. Below is an example of migrating from an old, clunky WordPress website and building a performant Jamstack website using Next.js and Sanity.
RELATED CASE STUDY
Migrating from WordPress and building a blazing fast Jamstack websiteLearn More About the Study
Replatforming – How To Migrate Your Current Platform?
There are two most prominent ways of replatforming a website. One is taking the time and migrating the data all at once. The other is migrating the data step by step.
Replatforming All at Once
Replatforming everything at once is very straightforward in cases where your website isn’t overly complex and is not in terrible shape. If your website is workable and you’re just looking to update your CMS or tech stack in general, it’s a good way of doing it. The main issue with this approach is that you have to reconstruct your entire website before releasing it which can be time-consuming.
In cases of massive and complex websites, replatforming can turn into a very long process, which, in turn, creates more space for error and confusion. Furthermore, time pressure is very persistent throughout the whole process as you need to complete the entire site before you can release the end product.
In the case of an eCommerce site, it can be rather tricky, as you are forced to continue delivering a sub-optimal experience to your customers until your new platform is fully prepared.
Furthermore, the original website is still going to need maintenance and improvement while the new platform is being made. And the longer the process takes, the more doubling of costs you suffer.
Finally, with long-term processes such as this, your milestones are probably going to shift over time. Each time you set a release date, something new is going to pop up, forcing you to do another bunch of hotfixes.
That said, migrating everything at once allows you to build a new website, migrate all the data from the old website, and forget about it.
Step-By-Step Replatforming Process
Instead of migrating and re-constructing everything at once, you can release the new version of your website step-by-step. To do that, your devs are going to be re-writing HTTP and directing traffic through path-based routing. The biggest benefits of this approach:
- You get to deliver parts of the new website quicker
- You replace the old with the new incrementally
- Instead of constantly battling and stressing over the final deadline, you get to add new features step-by-step
- You’re able to get rid of the more problematic systems and infrastructure sooner by replacing them with new ones
- You deliver new functionalities to your customer earlier
The downside is that when migrating, if you build a new module, you have to migrate the data from the old website’s module to the new one, and then you need to still integrate the new module with the old ecosystem, which is where all the difficulty of this process lies.
And in the end, even if the step-by-step option sounds great, there is no saying which approach is better. As always, it depends on the situation you are in. If you have the time and want to introduce a new platform in a grand-opening kind of way, then sure, replatforming everything at once is going to make sense. However, if you’re simply looking to deliver an improved customer experience in the form of a new platform sooner rather than later, then you might want to consider the incremental, step-by-step approach. Either way, it’s always wise to speak to professionals before making a decision of this magnitude.
Replatforming Can Be Complicated
Keep in mind that whether you choose the step-by-step or the all-at-once method, without proper preparation, you’re still going to be running in the dark. It’s important to have the process figured out before you start. You don’t want to be changing and tweaking features in the midst of it. Believe me, this can get really costly.
Very often, not having a plan costs companies way more than it should. If you do not have a clear-cut path to reinventing your website, you should consider hiring professionals to help you. In the long run, you’ll save yourself a lot of nerves and money.
Need to change your platform?
The Process of replatforming your website in a step-by-step manner
This section has tips you can share with your development team.
Understanding developers can be helpful. Lots of experts who are incredibly fluent at what they do may not be thinking in terms of what is better for your business. You’ll say that you need a new website, and you’re going to get it. However, by knowing more about the replatforming process you’re going to be able to discuss the topic with the development team and decide on the best way of doing things. You might also want to share this section with your developers for inspiration, as the step-by-step approach is not entirely common.
HTML Rewriting & Path-Based Routing
You start by breaking your website up into chunks that are based on URL paths. That way, you can bring all of the improvements to the customer while continuing to work on the rest of the website in the back.
Replatforming in Chunks
Depending on what sort of website we’re talking about, you’re going to break up your platform in a different way. Either way, you would have to break up each subpage into multiple sections. This is where a replatforming checklist could come in handy. Generally, you would start with the most important pieces of your website that bring you the most conversions.
For example, arguably the most logical way to approach replatforming is to do so in sections. For example, when replatforming your help page, you might see the following routing:
In this scenario, you can update each of the above paths separately so that the traffic is directed towards the new, completed pages. Meanwhile, the rest of the traffic is still managed by the old site until updated.
This process allows you to make your website more and more functional every day instead of waiting for the whole thing to be completed.
Difficulties to Consider When Replatforming Step-By-Step
Since replatforming means you’re switching to a different tech, running two sites that run on different stacks side by side means additional expenses. This means more maintenance and increased costs until the migration is complete.
Another difficulty to consider is how to keep customers oblivious to the fact that the site is being changed. You generally don’t want customers to go from one layout to another on the same website. You have to make sure that going from cart to purchase is done in the same user interface.
Ensuring that everything goes smoothly: An example replatforming checklist
Below you’ll find a list of suggestions you can make to have your developers do just what is needed to carry out the replatforming process properly. Don’t worry if you don’t fully understand some of the technicalities—they will!
Keeping the Layout Consistent Throughout the Replatforming Process
When replatforming your website, chances are you’re looking to create and launch an entirely new website. More often than not, this means switching to a new content management system.
Having everything in one CMS makes it fairly easy to keep your front end consistent throughout the website. However, when switching to a new CMS while continuing to work on the old one can cause confusion for you and your users.
First of all, the page content, the header, and the footer all have to be consistent throughout your pages. To keep both the old and the new sites consistent you may consider either updating the old version with the new design or copying the design of the old version and applying it to the new one until the project is finished.
Keep in mind the small stuff like error pages and favicons. These might seem irrelevant, but they’re necessary to keep your website for your website’s consistent.
Providing a Single Shared Session for the Entire Site
To ensure a consistent experience, we don’t want to make our customers log onto their accounts each time we re-route them from the old to the new version of the website. If you’re a marketer, you already know why—the customer journey should remain as smooth as possible.
In order to achieve this, we must apply a single shared session for the entire platform. It’s incredibly important as we would not want our customers to lose their carts when, for example, moving from the cart section to the transaction section. This small issue could cost us a lot of money. So, before you make the call to get things going, make sure to give your developers a heads-up.
Keeping Third-Party Scripts and Tags in Check
Whether you’ve been using WordPress, Wix, or anything else as your content management system, you probably have used some 3rd party tools by now. Very often, analytics tools, such as Google Pixel, and other tools for ad tracking and site verification are installed in both the <head> and <body> parts of your websites.
So, to keep things consistent, you have to make sure these get either transferred or replaced by new toolings so that your site can keep on collecting the necessary data. You don’t want to lose your analytics tools during the replatforming process!
One Cookie Consent Is More Than Enough
As you already know, your users generally would rather not accept cookies at all. For example, Elon Musk fears that one time, accepting cookies might open a portal to hell. He might not be your regular user, but it’s no secret that people generally find accepting cookies annoying. That said, there’s no avoiding cookies. But since they do have to accept it once already, we’d rather avoid forcing them to do this again each time your website switches from the old version to the new one.
Including the New Site’s Pages in the Sitemap
A sitemap is an .XML file that holds information about different elements like pages, images, videos, and all the other files on your website. Crucially, it also includes information about all of the relationships between the above-mentioned.
So, to ensure the proper functionality of your new site, your developers have to remember to include all the pages from the new site in the sitemap. To do that, they can create an index file with sitemaps from both the new and the old versions of your website. They’ll know what to do.
Summary: Do I need to Migrate My Online Store?
Replatforming is often something that a lot of people seem to postpone indefinitely. However, by postponing it, the problem will not disappear all by itself. As much as you might be tempted to invest in paid ads and promotions, these will not bring you the benefits you’re looking for if your website is not up to the task.
Whether it’s an online store or a new ecommerce platform, the crucial part is to recognize whether your website is not slowing your business down. Then, once you’ve recognized the problem, you can make an educated choice of deciding to go all out and migrate all of the data at once or do so through the step-by-step method.
If you have identified that you’re indeed losing clients at checkout and your commerce continues to flop, you might want to reach out for professional help. If your eCommerce platform is your main source of income, replatforming and maintenance costs will be nothing compared to what you are bound to lose in the long run if your existing website lacks in performance.
Need help with replatforming?