Backpacker Planet was started in 2003 where it back then was created as a Social Media for travellers in Denmark. During the years the website has become the leading website for backpackers in Denmark, but unfortunately we hadn’t changed much un the website since 2003, but this has changed now!!!
Choosing a solution
Backpacker Planet has always been a sparetime project for me and the two co founders, and we therefore haven’t got that much time to put into the project. Therefore a great solution for us would be to convert the webpage to a standard system. Another reason for converting it to a standardsystem is to make it possible for the two co-founders to create more new stuff on the website. The old version of the webpage was programmed by me, and I am the only programmer on the team. Therefore I needed to be involved every time a minor expansion was needed.
The fact that many standard CMS systems comes with lots of functionality and is regulary updated has been a great factor for choosing a CMS system. We have checked the many CMS systems out there and came to the conclusion fairly fast that WordPress would be a really great system to convert to. We all had experience with WordPress and there is a wide range of plugins for the system that could support our plans. Another reason why WordPress is a preferable solution is that it is fairly easy and cheap to find programmers who can fix/develope the stuff we might need for the CMS system
Removing the grease
After the decision was made, we all three spend some time discussion which parts of the old site should stay and which shouldn’t. During the years we have had new competitors on the market like Facebook, which is an unbeatable competitor, this has caused that some of the section on our website is no longer popular. There was also other sections on the website which simply didn’t give the user experience we had hoped for etc.
All these thoughts and analyses ended up in a conclusion of which sections should be eliminated, and frankly I think it has been a great process. In every company and every website there will be “grease” which needs to be cut off. When the grease is cut off it is much easier to navigate because what you have left is the core of your business an you only have left what matters.
One big concern that we all had on Backpacker Planet was the SEO. The old website had a really good position in Google, and we wouldn’t want to lose that. Therefore we needed to create a really good plan for not loosing our rankings on Google. Fortunately both me and Kenneth (co-founder) has been working a lot with SEO during the last 6 years, and new a lot about best practice, and what to look for. We made a large scaled plan where text, images, technic on the webpage was in focus. We also made a plan for creation of about 18.000 redirects.
This has actually been a large part of the conversion – it takes a lot of time to analyse an old website, and it also takes a lot of time to create a plan on what to do about SEO.
We have converted the website from classic ASP programming where I had created all of the programming and all of the database, to a standard wordpress solution. This has been a big task because I needed to create a lot of database scripts, programming etc. to convert data to fit into the WordPress solution. My guess is that I have used at least 2 month of work for creation of scripts, sql etc. I chose to create all scripts and code self, because it would take a lot of time to explain the old structure to a freelance programmer, and because it would also cost a lot of money to do so.
What have I learned?
I have learned a lot in this proces, first of all it takes much more time to convert an old complex website than I had expected. I have learned that when you do your analyses and planning the right way, it will benefit you greatly afterwards.
I also learned that even when you think you have remembered everything, there is still stuff you missed. The after match on a conversion of a complex conversion takes a lot of time too.
But damn – it feels great that it has been done – and I am proud of what we managed to do.