A Guide to Website Migration With Duda

By Stephen Alemar

blog_cover_350x350-minIntroduction:

Keeping customers up-to-date with the latest and greatest technology is one of the most pressing challenges faced by both DIY and DIFM web solutions providers. This is particularly true when it comes to how an SMB website works and looks, as it is the backbone of a business’ online presence.

Some companies deal with this by creating their own site builder. But for many solutions providers, the simplest way to handle this reality is to partner with a website building platform. Either way, this technology can easily fall behind the curve, and the best solution for this issue is to migrate existing website customers off of an outdated platform and onto a dedicated website builder more in keeping with the latest trends and best practices.

Duda has migrated hundreds of thousands of websites off of legacy website builders, and authored this white paper to explain the various ways a web solutions provider can migrate off of an outdated platform and what considerations and upsell opportunities that action presents.

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Duda’s Migration Advantage:

One of the key elements of Duda is a focus on speed with our main advantage in migrations being our content import and conversion technology. We are passionate about ensuring that our partners can both effectively and efficiently provide websites to their SMB clients. During the migration process, this key advantage enables us to take existing web assets and transforms them into a new responsive website in a single click, or single API call.

During this process, Duda automatically imports and populates new websites with the following information:

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No other vendor can replicate this speed or efficiency in migrating assets and creating new sites, and this will be the foundation that Duda will build on top of to accomplish the migrations you and your customers require.

Considerations:

Website migration can be quite a large and complex undertaking, and, if you are considering it for your company, it is very important to do it with an organization that has a proven track record of doing it well. By nature, this process should be a team effort between your company and the platform you choose to add to your service. There should be an open and communicative relationship between both teams to ensure that the migration goes quickly and fluidly. There is also a fair chance your team will need to be trained on the new platform, and you will want to know you’ll be well supported as your team learns about their new website builder.  

Beyond a good relationship with your vendor, there are other considerations that must be taken into account. While migration onto a leading website building platform like Duda brings many benefits, such as consolidated and improved workflows, a singular vendor relationship and assurance that your customers will always have access to industry-leading technology, completing a migration project effectively requires a full understanding of its scope and goals before beginning the process.

Variables that must be taken into account include:

  • Timeline requirements and scale of migration
  • Functionality and design disparities between legacy platform and Duda
  • Upgrade path/communication strategy for customers being migrated off of legacy platform  

Timeline & Scale

Though the actual migration of websites onto the new platform can be quite quick, setting up the process can take time. Existing websites need to be analyzed, development work needs to be done and time should be allotted for QA. It is Duda’s experience that it generally takes around one to four months to finish any development needs for migration on our end. After this is accomplished the remaining timeline will be based on how many websites you wish to migrate and what resources you have to allocate to a QA process.

Functionality & Design

Not all website builders have the same functionality or create websites in the same manner. For example, your current builder may include a widget not found in Duda or your sites may be coded in a different way. At the beginning of the migration process, Duda will analyze all of the websites you wish to migrate and identify disparities between our system and your legacy platform. We will then provide our recommendations for how to best reconcile these differences.

We attempt to achieve as close as possible replication of the existing website; however, while certain strategies can provide a perfect pixel-to-pixel migration others will provide a very close replication.

Communication Strategy

How do you want to inform your customers about their websites being moved over to a new platform? Do you wish to make this an upsell opportunity, or simply provide your clients with new beautiful websites at no cost? When do you want your customers to know that you’ve switched to a new website builder? Do you want them to know at all? These are all questions that must be addressed prior to beginning a migration.

Here at Duda, we have seen a variety of strategies implemented to communicate a migration to website owners. It is our experience that placing an emphasis on the benefits that come with the new platform, for example Duda’s pagespeed advantages or website personalization tools, generally makes for a smooth transition.

Still, there are usually significant differences in strategy depending on whether your service is based on a DIY or DIFM model.  

If your business allows users to create and manage websites themselves, then there will need to be some communication to let your customers know. This is because, though your customers’ migrated sites will look nearly the same as the legacy versions, they will see a brand new editor when they log in. You may choose to communicate these changes at the beginning of the process after migrations are finished, or even roll out communications in phases.

For example, one successful Duda partner, a hosting company based in Europe that wished to completely shut down its legacy website builder, chose to send out two notifications before updating and locking their customers’ websites via “Fast Migration” (covered under Migration Options).

Their strategy:

  • Sent an announcement and invited customers to create a new website on the Duda platform as an upgrade
  • Sent a secondary email announcing the discontinuation of the legacy platform and encouraged users to create their new sites on Duda
  • After giving users sufficient time, all remaining websites were migrated and locked in their existing form using “Fast Migration”

The hosting company found this to be a very effective way to generate new revenue and sunset a legacy product.

If your company is set up in a do-it-for-me model, in which you handle all of the website creation and management yourself, it isn’t really mandatory to inform your users that you have switched platforms. After all, your customers’ sites will look and functional nearly the same as they did before the migration. In this case, the main reason for communicating the change to your clients would be that you wish to upsell them some of the new conversion-driving features inside Duda, such as a responsive design, website personalization tools, or better pagespeed.   

Migration Options:

The method employed to move websites off of a legacy platform and onto Duda, largely depends on your unique circumstances and the needs of your customers. Timeline requirements, cost, the end-user experience and ultimate goals of the migration, all must be taken into account while evaluating the different options for migration.

Based on our experience working with web solutions providers of all kinds and sizes, there are three tried-and-true migration strategies we would encourage you to consider.

Throughout this process, we will work in close collaboration with your team to provide our best input and guidance.  

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A manual migration is the most labor intensive of Duda’s three migration options and essentially creates an entirely new website; however, depending on your unique circumstances, it may prove to be the best available option.

In a manual migration, members of your team or a third-party service would have to take each individual existing website, transfer the content over to the new Duda site, and then make any design adjustments necessary to get the new site to look as close as possible to the old one.  

The advantages of a manual migration with Duda are:

  • Duda’s patented content import and conversion technology make it the fastest and most efficient platform in the industry for creating SMB websites.
  • Duda does not charge anything for you to migrate websites in this way.
  • Manual migration is a great reason to reach out to existing customers with an upgrade offer that can make you additional revenue.
  • You will be providing your clients with a fresh new design, packed with must-have features such as one-click SSL certificates, website personalization and more.
  • Duda’s white label preview features can be used to market and communicate to customers about their option to upgrade their website.

Plugin & Polish

It is easy to understand that for solutions providers with hundreds, thousands or millions of existing websites, manual migration is often not feasible. To address this issue, Duda can build and provide custom plugins for the various platforms that will be involved in the migration.

Duda learns, at a deep level, the structure, layout, and patterns of your legacy website builder, and then highly customizes our content import algorithm to work specifically with your legacy platform.

This involves mapping the existing layout into Duda’s row and column structure, replicating navigation and header styles and ensuring all legacy widgets have a corresponding native Duda widget that they will be migrated into.

However, newly migrated websites will still require a QA process and your team will likely need to make a few minor fixes to ensure each site looks as close as possible to its legacy platform version.

The types of work that may be needed on a per-site basis are as follows:

 

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Duda estimates the “Plugin & Polish” option reduces migration time to under 25 minutes per website.

In our experience, this migration’s plugin takes approximately four months for Duda to build.

Fast Migration

If your company needs to migrate a vast number of websites over to Duda, but does not wish to allocate the time and resources that would be required for either of the other above options, there is a third choice. It’s called, “Fast Migration.”

In this option, Duda will build a plugin that copies over the code of your existing desktop websites, exactly as it is today. This means that the websites are ported to Duda will look precisely the same with no design changes needed.

However, by doing so, we are bypassing Duda’s own markup and code, which limits the capabilities of our editor. We will not convert widgets or elements into Duda elements and this means that the editor can only be used to do things like replace images or text in the exact spot it is currently. If further changes are required you will need to use Duda’s “Developer Mode” to access the code and make changes in the HTML and CSS.

Fast Migration is ideal for quickly moving your customer to a new platform while sunsetting your legacy site builder platform; however, if you’re clients had access to edit their own websites before the migration, this may not be the best option as many will lack the technical ability to make any edits to their sites.

In our experience, this migration’s plugin takes approximately one month from start to finish.

Evaluation & Migration Process with Plugins:

Evaluation

If you choose to migrate your websites to Duda using either the “Plugin & Polish” or “Fast Migration” method, we will go through a process of “mapping” your websites to create the most effective migration process and workflows.

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Mapping your sites consists of Duda’s development team writing code that looks for every widget in your platform to indicate what can be auto-replaced by a native Duda widget. It is essential that Duda spends this time completing a detailed evaluation of the structure of your websites. This allows us to account for any discrepancies between your legacy site builder(s) and the Duda platform.

Here are a few examples of other things we will be evaluating:

  • Number of pages per website
  • Different tiers of websites provided by legacy platform
  • Common attributes among your existing websites
  • CSS & HTML
  • Feature set as it compares to Duda

It’s important to note that Duda websites are built in a structure of rows and columns and adheres to standard HTML practices that may be different from your legacy platform. This process allows us to figure out how we migrate your legacy websites into Duda’s column and row structure.

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Building the Plugin

Following a comprehensive analysis and mapping of your existing websites, Duda will begin creating any plugins that are required for the migration. This is primarily handled by Duda’s expert development team and will take approximately one to three months to complete. We have a long history of running migrations for our partners and will use our best judgment to create a custom plugin that will make your migration onto Duda as quick and efficient as possible.

User Acceptance Testing

Once the necessary plugins have been built, we will deliver them to you for User Acceptance Testing (UAT). At this point in the process, we feel the plugin is far enough along to start testing website builds off with it.

During UAT, we work with you to improve the plugin over the last month of development. This process consists of running test migrations of real websites. We fully build these sites to make sure all is well, and analyze, document and prioritize any issues to resolve them quickly and improve the plugin. This helps cut down on the manual work that needs to be done to each website during the QA process.

User Acceptance Testing takes one month or less to complete.

Migration & QA

The final stage of this process is, of course, migrating and taking the new websites live on the Duda platform. If you have used the “Plugin & Polish” option, each migrated site will need to go through a QA process to ensure it closely resembles the pre-existing website. This may include making minor updates and changes; however, this process should take under 25 minutes per site. If you have used the “Fast Migration” option to migrate your websites, this QA process will be much faster and may not be necessary at all.

In Summary:

Improved and consolidated workflows for your team, a simpler single-vendor relationship, and the assurance that your customers will always have access to the best technology on the market are just a few of the many benefits of migration onto a trusted, cutting-edge website building platform for all types of web solutions providers. But, as has been shown, website migration can be a very involved and complex process that requires a lot of planning.

If you’re thinking of integrating with a new website builder, and want to migrate your existing sites off of the legacy platform, you’ll want to make sure you are partnered with a company that has a deep understanding of, and experience with, migrations. Duda is just such a company.

We have helped migrate hundreds of thousands of websites off of legacy platforms and onto our award-winning responsive website builder, and we’d be happy to help you as well.

For more information on Duda and how we can move you over to the fastest and most user-friendly website builder available, email partners@dudamobile.com or visit www.dudamobile.com.

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About Stephen Alemar

Stephen Alemar is the Content Marketing Manager and Chief Morale Officer at Duda. Stephen generally splits his time between writing for Duda and agonizing over the proper use of commas. He once brought in donuts for the office, and it is still considered a landmark day at Duda. His favorite Big Lebowski character is one of the bowling balls.
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