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So you’ve decided to move from Ektron to Episerver

I like to call it the perfect storm. You know, when the universe or a supreme deity or whatever decides to throw a bunch of stuff at you all at once to see if you’ll break?

What did we possibly do to deserve this?

A.K.A The problem

  • Guess what? One side of the company is relaunching under a completely new name and brand!
  • Hey guys, with the new site we need to simplify the online experience, make it responsive, and integrate our multiple microsites.
  • Holy crap, our CMS just got acquired. It’s been a while, maybe we should check out what else is out there and see what the current landscape looks like!
  • You know, our hosting solution hasn’t been meeting our needs and our contract is coming up for renewal. We should try hosting in the cloud.
  • Oh, did we mention that rebrand? We’re going to announce it in like 90 days. The new site has to be ready!

So after sitting through several vendor presentations we decided to leverage our investment in Ektron and go all-in with Episerver. Some of the benefits of Episerver are, it is natively responsive, it uses the MVC architecture, is built on the .Net framework, and has an established community. It came highly recommended and Episerver offered a like-for-like transition path for current Ektron customers.

That deadline is crazy; who can we get to help?

A.K.A Identify a partner

So we’ve got to build the new site in Episerver and shortly thereafter we need to migrate all of our websites to the platform. We knew there would be a learning curve because our experience with Ektron was only with WebForms and that Episerver would be using the more flexible MVC. With so little runway we knew we were going to need to bring in some help. We talked to several worthwhile Episerver partners but we wanted someone who understands both Ektron and Episerver if we needed to reuse any existing custom functionality. We chose WSOL due to their experience with both platforms and their willingness to adapt to our requirements. As the brand hadn’t yet been finalized we got started working on the look and feel and they got started working on the back-end coding.

Oh so many questions!

A.K.A Determine your content

So we’re rebranding one site and rebuilding everything on a new platform, this brings up several questions.

  • What content do we need to write from scratch?
  • What content needs to be moved?
  • What can we just drop?
  • What needs to be completely rewritten?
  • We want responsive engaging graphics; will any of our current photography work?
  • What audience are we writing for?

We held sessions with our primary stakeholders as well as brought in outside consultants to determine who we were targeting and what we were trying to convey. With the new site we decided that less is more and really whittled down our content. Most of the content is represented with cards based on Google’s material design specs.

We don’t have enough time to include everything that’s been asked for!

A.K.A Prioritize

I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to work with your stakeholders to prioritize the website features and content. By ranking and assigning level of effort to each feature we were able to determine what absolutely had to be in place at launch and what could be added soon thereafter. This also allowed us to structure different sprints with WSOL. We knew when they had to have layout and branding from us and we knew when we would have a base we could start loading content into.

Where are we going to put this thing?

A.K.A Determine your hosting needs

Episerver offers the option of either licensing the software for on-premises installation or cloud hosting with Epi. After talking to our account manager and exploring the options, we decided to go with on-premises licensing and to use that licensing to host in Microsoft’s Azure platform. We’d been trying out Azure Virtual Machines and database service for development and loved how we could quickly spin up a new server or make a copy of an existing one. Azure makes it easy to scale up your server’s resources if the need arises. It didn’t hurt that we cut our hosting bill to about a quarter of the previous level.

Did we learn anything in all this?

A.K.A. Advice to current Ektron customers

To summarize, there are several things to keep in mind if you decide to move from Ektron to Episerver.

  • Working with an Episerver partner is a great way to meet tight deadlines, adopt best practices, and handle complexity.
  • Audit your content, determine what content you are going to want in your new site, and who you are writing for. More importantly this is an ideal time to remove useless content.
  • Prioritize your content and features, it can be added over time. Meet with your stakeholders and keep them informed as the project progresses.
  • Decide whether to have Episerver provide hosting or host it yourself. They can handle maintenance and infrastructure for you or maybe you require more control.

Probably the best thing you can do is talk to your account manager and start asking questions. They’re the best resource for evaluating what you’ve already got and what you’re going to need.

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