There’s no denying the importance of having an effective and attractive website that provides an enjoyable and efficient user journey. But what happens when an SME with an ecommerce function finds itself with a website that’s no longer functional and can’t securely maintain and grow online sales? In these instances, it may be time to switch to a new site.
Here, Justin Bateman, Senior Product Manager at Fasthosts, explains some of the tell-tale signs that indicate it’s time to make the switch and how moving from an old to new website can be done as seamlessly as possible.
Time and time again, we come across ecommerce businesses where their website will have been running for many years and their business has grown but they haven’t updated their online presence to match this.
The thought of moving from an old to a new website can of course be daunting, but it’s really important that SMEs consider making the switch to a new site if their current website is outdated and no longer reflects the branding or messaging of the business.
So, when is it time to make the switch? Beyond reviewing your branding and messaging, a vital consideration should be reviewing how technology has moved on and whether the website is still actually compatible. A good example of this is a website that isn’t mobile responsive. Given that most online users are now accessing websites on their phones, it’s crucial that any business has the right set up for users to be able to access their products and services from any device.
What’s more, there are also certain features a customer will expect to see when they visit a website, so it’s important these are being considered. If it’s an ecommerce site, they would expect some sort of responsive content management system in place and social media integration, so if these features weren’t built into your website in the first place, the chances are you’re going to have to switch to a new site.
Of course, having a site that can perform in relation to the amount of traffic your site receives is also crucial. As a business grows, traffic can increase so it’s vital that a site is able to scale with the requirements and demand of the business. This is especially important because performance is a key factor when it comes to SEO, with slow loading sites ranking more poorly than faster loading sites.
When deciding to make the switch from an old to a new site, there are a few important steps to consider. This goes right from the early planning phase, where you should audit your site and map it out, through to the final testing stages, ensuring all links are correct and that the site is SEO friendly.
In terms of making the switch as smooth as possible, there are a few things SMEs should consider investing in to help them move websites stress free.
For example, if they’re a WordPress user, they could opt for a web hosting provider that offers free website migrations, many of which offer this on an unlimited basis. This ensures experts are in control of moving all the necessary and associated files and plugins over.
For SMEs on different platforms, it can be a little bit trickier. Say they’re an SME that’s set up a site just using standard web hosting and they want to go with something that’s a bit easier to use and more self-manageable, like a website builder product. In these cases, it’s definitely more of a manual transition to move across the content they want to use but they would almost be starting from scratch if they went from using an open source CMS like WordPress to a less flexible but easy to use website builder. However, many website builder products now offer the ability to migrate large sections, SEO tags, images and redirects with little hassle.
For those moving the other way around it’s slightly easier. While it’s not technically difficult, it can be time consuming, so often an SME in this situation will hire an IT expert to do this for them. It’s also worth noting that WordPress offers some automated migration plugins to help with this.
It’s also vital that when someone is moving from an old to new site they ensure it’s compatible. There are horror stories of people trying to move to newer PHP versions and they haven’t thought about the implications of their existing content and links on their old version resulting in lost access to their website. So, I would just reiterate that they should think about that first and contact their web hosting provider to make sure it’s all going to work before they take down their old site.
With this risk in mind, we’ve worked hard to look at ways to help make things as easy as possible for SMEs in this situation. Fasthosts offer unlimited free WordPress migrations from other providers and can even help transfer a full website from multiple different platforms on to the Fasthosts website builder. Meanwhile, new customers can also benefit from a domain transfer service to help them transfer over their existing domain with minimum stress.
There are of course other considerations. An instant turn-off for a customer is visiting a site that’s not secure, but it’s amazing how many sites are out there in this situation. Thankfully, all web hosts offer pretty decent packages now that come free with SSL certificates. Make sure your provider offers that service because it can be expensive if it’s not offered as part of the package.
Finally, SMEs will also want to consider opting for a provider that offers customer support that’s available 24/7, as well as uptime and performance guarantees of the package they’ve purchased. Depending on the size of their site, they need to be with a provider that can scale with them and help them grow. And this is the really important bit, because if they aren’t able to move up to a more performant package, the website will just get slower and slower and they could be stuck with it for a considerable amount of time. With that in mind, it’s all about planning, thinking ahead and ensuring your website is prioritised.