by Emilie Toll
An online food ordering service provider managed 96 restaurant websites - all in major need of a makeover. The restaurant sites, with their antiquated designs (i.e. really old and ugly), were managed with an outdated, proprietary content management system; and none were responsive or mobile-friendly. They were in desperate need of a change before their contract renewed for another year.
The new content management platform would be easy to use for non-technical editors, offer complete design flexibility, and be fully managed by offering automatic updates, uptime monitoring, backups, and more. The client selected Marketpath CMS and kicked off the project immediately.
As any large, time-sensitive project goes, there were some great lessons learned. This blog post breaks down our process into three key parts and highlights the strategies we employed and how we were able to migrate 96 sites in only two months.
A project kickoff meeting is imperative to align expectations, define goals and outcomes, and discover requirements and risks. We uncovered many key requirements during this initial meeting.
Restaurant owners and employees (non-technical users) will update the restaurant menus, specials, images, and other frequently changing content. Therefore, the user experience for content editors will be of utmost importance.
The client provides tier-1 technical support to their restaurant customers. Issues will be escalated to Marketpath if the client cannot resolve them.
The client will play the role of account manager and retain all communication with their restaurant customers. They’ll also determine if the new site fits the restaurant’s needs.
Restaurants own their domains and each domain, including sub-domains, will point to Marketpath CMS servers. The client will handle all DNS updates on behalf of their restaurant customers.
Website visitors can sign up to receive text messages containing specials from a restaurant. The client’s system manages the messaging service. Since the client’s messaging service does not provide embedded subscription forms, Marketpath will build a connector to send new subscriptions to the messaging service through a REST API.
The migration of 96 websites consisted of modifying themes, migrating existing content, receiving client approval, and taking the new sites live. Given the two-month deadline, project organization and risk mitigation were crucial. Internally, the team brainstormed risks and process improvements, which included:
Sites with more than the quoted pages or unexpected functionality will be quoted and approved by the client separately.
Content migrations will be outsourced to non-technical editors. These contractors will use a special Migration Details Document (like this one) for each site, which will include site color scheme, sitemap, unique functionality, and other specifications.
We will maintain a master site list with a Google Sheet that includes: restaurant domain, selected theme, food menu option, online ordering URL, contractor name, project phase, primary and secondary website colors, and any notes. As sites were implemented the spreadsheet was updated. This source of truth was shared with the client to detail progress.
The themes will be imported into Marketpath CMS for each site. The importing process will have to be error-free. Building new pages and changing content will need to be flawless.
To manage client approvals, an email will be sent each day outlining the sites ready for approval. The client will reply to the thread with changes or approval.
Two existing themes were used, modified to be more adaptable, and would include the following restaurant-specific features:
The biggest margin of error lay with migrating site content to Marketpath CMS. The Google Sheet, iterations, and the CMS’ built-in search engine optimization fields were pivotal.
The restaurant’s name, city, and state were entered in the “Default Browser Title Suffix” field in Site Properties. The Browser Title is created using the H1 and data from this field.
For example, if the restaurant was “Daisy’s Shake Shack” in Moosic, PA, the Browser Title for the About Us page would be “About Us | Daisy’s Shake Shack | Moosic, Pennsylvania”.
Images from the live site were manually downloaded and supplemented with a variety of resized and compressed images housed in a Google Drive folder. Images used on pages were programmatically optimized using image presets.
The food menus were set up using the customer’s preferred menu method - PDF, WYSIWYG, or Marketpath CMS Datastore.
2. Migrate another site using each theme, then modify for improvements.
3. Create sites in CMS with the correct theme, and assign to the contractor
4. Sites were generated using the selected theme. An email was sent to the contractor with the site name, Migration Details Document, and the migration deadline - three days. The contractor’s email address was added to the site using the CMS’ permissions settings.
Recalling that the editors were not technical, the following measures were taken to ensure the success for all editors:
Bookmarks were created to pages and menu items so users could easily find and quickly edit what they needed to.
Only one training video was needed because the two themes were developed so they could be managed in the same way. The video is hosted on YouTube and is accessible to all users.
Restaurant users don’t have to worry when something goes wrong. Marketpath CMS is fully managed, which means it includes availability, backups, monitoring, load balancing. By the time users, or their visitors, notice a problem, it is most likely already being addressed.
Per the maintenance agreement, the client handles technical support with the ability to contact Marketpath’s support team. Conversely, our support team would forward any misdirected requests to the client’s support team.
You get what you put into any project - website migration or not. Many hours were spent planning the project and aligning our team of developers, designers, project managers, client stakeholders, and contractors. The themes and the improvements implemented during this project are now the foundation for Marketpath’s primary migration process.
Related Tags: Agile Marketing, Client Website, Agencies, Development, Marketing, CMS Features, Lessons Learned, Website Design, Website Speed Optimization, Website Development, Website Tips & Best Practices, Content Management System (CMS) for Restaurants
Emilie serves as the Marketing Project Manager for Marketpath. She obtained an M.B.A. in Marketing and International Business from the University of Indianapolis. She enjoys every aspect of marketing, and finds the analytics just as fascinating. As a former restaurant owner, the entrepreneurial spirit lives on in her, and she wants to help others establish their ideal online presence.