Move your website in 11 steps

Kerry A. Thompson blog: Is it time to move your website?

A fair number of my clients come to me already having websites on platforms like WordPress, GoDaddy, or 1and1. The websites are often very outdated and the business owner has no idea how to make changes because the website was created by someone else. Often the designer or developer who created the website is no longer in business or the cost to hire the designer to make easy changes is prohibitive. The frustration about not knowing how to update their sites to make important changes has these business owners looking around for other solutions.

If you find yourself in this situation, it may be time to move to Squarespace or Weebly. I chose to specialize in these platforms because they are the two easiest do-it-yourself website builders. I focus on helping business owners get their websites created on or moved to these platforms. Then I teach them how to make future updates themselves, as a kind of “learn to fish for yourself” cost-saving benefit.

Moving means redecorating

Moving a website to Squarespace or Weebly is a good time to redesign and modernize your website, add newer pictures and updated text, and organize the navigation and the pages in ways that help visitors find clear pathways to the information they’re looking for. I have never moved a website to have it look the same on Squarespace or Weebly; there have always been major updates. For that reason, the steps for moving a website are similar to creating one from scratch, but you can usually re-use some of the text and images you used on your original site. And, like changing your address with the post office, there are a few things to do after your website is moved to make sure customers can still find you.

This blog post explains the steps my clients and I take to go from our first talk to a successful move to Squarespace or Weebly. The end result gives a boost to my clients’ online presence and their business outlook.

Step 1: Free consultation

I call you for your free 30-minute consultation.

Step 2: Questionnaire

If you decide to work with me, you email me answers to a questionnaire I’ve sent you. Your answers help me understand your business goals, the features you may want to add to your new website, and the type of people you want to appeal to with your website. You also send me a link to your existing website so I can see what your online presence looks like now.

Step 3: Squarespace or Weebly

We start our work together with a phone call to talk about the two website builders I work with—Squarespace and Weebly—and we make a decision about which one is best for you.

Step 4: Design template

I email you a few choices of design templates and you choose one that you like.

Here are two blog posts that help with the decision:

The one trick that will narrow down your design choices for a new website

Choosing a design based on where the navigation text falls

Step 5: Text for your website

I collect all of the text from your current website into a text file and we talk about what is missing or out-of-date. We also talk in general terms about the navigation and organization and I make suggestions about improvements. Updates written by you or me will be completed by the time the first draft of the new website is ready in Step 7.

Here are some blog posts about writing the text for your website:

A good website has everything a local bakery has

Why the Home page is the most important page of your website

What about you? Writing an About page that does the job

The 5 questions your Services page should answer

Step 6: Website account

Through a phone call, we create an account for you on Squarespace or Weebly and add me as an administrator.

Step 7: Website first draft

I create a first draft of the website. I gather or create images. I edit text that was copied from your current website or that you have written or I write new text if needed. I design how the images and text go together on the website. Your current website continues to be active and accessible while we’re creating your new website. The new website that is being designed has a different domain name, a trial name assigned by Squarespace or Weebly, until we’re ready to complete the move.

Images on old websites are often too small to be of good quality for Weebly and Squarespace websites. I ask clients to provide me with the original high-quality images that were used to build their current sites. If those images no longer exist, we choose new images. I also need original logo artwork for the same reason.

At this point, I also make a note of all the URLs for the page names on your old site. We’ll need those for Step 10 to make sure that people who try to go to an obsolete page from your old site automatically see the appropriate page on your new site.

Step 8: Website review

You review the first draft of the website, letting me know through email or phone calls what you like and what you want changed, and we collaborate in that way until you’re happy with the design.

Step 9: Website is connected to a domain

I connect the domain you already have to your new website. The transition from old website to new one can take a few days, but your old website continues to be active until the transition is complete and your new website is public. After the domain is connected and the new website is working, we cancel the old hosting account that used to host your website. If your business email is connected to your domain name, that continues to work as it always did.

If you have more than one domain, you choose one domain as the primary domain. The other is called a secondary domain. People who type in that secondary domain name are automatically redirected to the primary domain. With a Squarespace website, you’re able to add a secondary domain. With a Weebly website, you don’t have the option of adding a secondary domain. Instead, you tell the domain provider to forward website traffic to your primary domain.

This blog post clarifies the difference between your domain and your website:

Your domain and your website are best friends, but they’re not inseparable

Step 10: Change-of-address wrap-up

Although the domain name remains the same after you move your website, individual pages on your new website are most likely not named the same as they were. People might find links to these obsolete pages through searches, on social media, or on other websites. For example, if you had a website page named “More Information” and now have a similar page called “Resources,” you’ll need to make sure people see the page “Resources” when they click a link for the old page named “More Information.”

When the new website domain transfer is completed, we add markers called “301 redirects” to your new website that equate obsolete page names with their equivalent new page names to prevent confusion.

Step 11: Website final steps

I finish other administrative and SEO setup tasks both on your website and on Google to help it to be found in search results. It’s important to set up Google search properties, submit a sitemap, and request indexing for any website, but it’s urgent to do so after a website move, so Google can find all the new page names on your site quickly and display updated search results.

Does this list make the process seem less intimidating? I work with you through email and phone calls for the most part. We can also arrange a video screen-sharing call if you want a demonstration of how to make updates on your website. The reason I chose to specialize in Squarespace and Weebly is because they are the two easiest website builders. I help with the heavy lifting getting a site moved, but the goal is that you can make simple updates later on your own (or you can always get in touch with me again for more complicated updates). If you’re ready to find out more, schedule your free consultation. I’ll look forward to learning more about what you have in mind.


Kerry A. Thompson Blog

I offer stress-free design and writing help to get your website launched or updated on Squarespace and Weebly. If you’re struggling to get your website going for your new business or passion project, see the Services page for the types of help I offer and then take me up on a free 30-minute no-obligation consultation. I’d love to hear from you. - Kerry