Replatforming this year?
New year, new platform?
With the tinsel packed away for another year, our thoughts naturally turn to self-improvement projects – professional as well as personal. For online retailers whose creaking legacy systems can’t be cured by a bit of peripheral tinkering (or a quick trip to the gym), a well-planned migration to a new platform might well be the only way to drive substantive performance improvements.
It’s worth pausing to consider some of the factors that make a platform migration your logical next step. If you have a cumbersome system that’s difficult to update, or maybe one that just doesn’t cut the mustard in terms of its ability to scale, re-platforming isn’t just advisable, it’s essential. Similarly, if it’s become a mish-mash of add-ons that resembles a rickety house that’s been extended too many times, it could be time for a fresh start.
Consider your long-term goals
From a cost perspective alone, a hosted or fully managed platform might make the best long-term business sense – especially if it means you can avail yourself of the plethora of third-party plug-ins that remove the endless rounds of development work required to integrate new features. At the most fundamental level, your business goals may also have moved on – which could end up being the strongest driver for change. Re-platforming will incur upfront costs, but it could deliver a return on investment that far outweighs your migration budget.
It’s important to find a re-platforming partner that’s a good fit for your organisation. The best starting point is to nail down your spec with as much clarity as you can muster; the clearer you are about your requirements (now and in the future), the more likely you are to get what you want from your chosen supplier. This review period is also a great opportunity to reflect on your current business processes, allowing you to ditch old and inefficient methodologies and acquire potentially more productive habits!
Re-platforming testing tips
- Factor web testing into your re-platforming budget from the get-go so it doesn’t get relegated to ‘only if we can afford it’ status
- Test early and test often – during staging and again when you go live
- Monitor performance both on the legacy platform and on the new one so you can compare statistics
Re-platforming can transform online retail businesses – but it can also spark technical issues that may adversely impact web visitors. By instituting a thorough programme of testing and monitoring, you can not only minimise the risk to your bottom line by intercepting glitches before they affect the customer, but you can also give your brand a boost – and optimise conversions – by delivering the kind of experience customers demand.
Testing is key to a smooth transition
The only way to know that your new site is ready to roll is via a scheduled programme of testing – load testing to ensure it can stand up to the rigours of real-world demand and performance testing to check the user experience is flawless. Include pre-launch monitoring to iron out any last-minute wrinkles before the site goes live, as well as further monitoring designed to measure the impact of migration on performance.
Don’t think of testing as an optional extra. Your re-platforming project should provide immediate business benefits, but if errors occur it’s crucial that they’re picked up by specialist monitoring, rather than by frustrated customers who won’t hesitate to share their dissatisfaction with their peers on social media. Remember, while analytics tools are useful, they can’t deliver the deep insights that are part and parcel of real-time web monitoring.
Think of synthetic web monitoring as a team of virtual mystery shoppers, replicating the online shopping experience hundreds of times over using scripts that make random choices in the same way that real customers do and exposing any glitches along the way.
Ready for the next stage?
thinkTribe provides a cloud-based, managed service precisely tailored to each client’s business and designed to optimise web performance. You can read more about how to avoid platform migration mistakes and browse our platform migration checklist at the thinkTribes website. Why not download our platform migration planning ebook for a more in-depth look at re-platforming?