When Access wanted a more flexible website that could keep pace with the company’s growth rate, it turned to Moriyama to create a secure, scalable and futureproof platform.
The Access Group supplies business management software to organisations of all shapes and sizes, providing multiple products across a wide range of different sectors. It’s seen huge growth in the last couple of years, both organically and through a number of acquisitions.
While this has been a great achievement for the company, it’s led to two major challenges.
First of all, there was a mismatch in content management systems (CMS). Access uses Umbraco, and was planning an upgrade version 7 to 8. But a lot of acquired sites had been built in WordPress. It made sense to move these straight to Umbraco 8, and the Group site needed to catch up.
Secondly, the range of page types and styles across the site made it complicated to edit. This did not suit the dynamic nature of the growing business or the team, who pride themselves on making things happen quickly.
It was clear that The Access Group needed to move every site to Umbraco 8 and create consistency across its digital ecosystem.
Access had already partnered with us on a number of projects, and we were in discussion with them about the right time to upgrade to Umbraco 8.
As Umbraco Gold Partners, we have a wealth of experience in both upgrades and web development on large Umbraco sites, putting us in the perfect position to support them with this migration.
A long time Umbraco Gold Partner, Contributing Partner, Cloud Powerhouse and centre for Umbraco excellence.
Secure and reliable CI/CD deployments using Azure DevOps and Moriyama Config Builder
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Moriyama Umbraco Data Migration Tool can migrate content between mis-matching Umbraco content types either on the same or different Umbraco site
Our first step was to build a platform. This was a baseline solution, which the team could use to either reproduce websites based on the same set-up or add acquired content to the existing code base.
We pulled together the best practices for Umbraco websites and built them into the platform. For simplicity and flexibility, we reduced the number of page templates and used a block-based approach for the designs so they could be easily replicated for new sections and sites.
We decided to build and launch different parts of the Access sites in a phased rollout, to make sure that we were delivering value early on in the project. theaccessgroup.com was the first site to migrate to the new platform.
To make sure that the user experience wasn’t affected, we kept the Umbraco 7 site running while simultaneously adding features and content to the Umbraco 8 site. This meant that Access could test the v8 version and raise bug reports before the whole site went live, plus users could see and use the new sections seamlessly, without being aware of the work that was going on behind the scenes. We worked closely with Access and its IT team to monitor site rankings and fluctuations and check there was no dip in performance.
We’re not the same as other enterprise businesses, where things take months to turn around. Here we make decisions quickly, we make it happen quickly and we’re all about pace. This consistency across our sites will make our lives easier, future proof us, and make sure we can scale at pace.
Jenni Stacey, Head of Web Experience at The Access Group
Our phased approach to upgrading sections of the site started with the blog. To do this efficiently and effectively, we created a powerful tool that allowed us to import the content from the old v7 site, transform the data so it was structured cleanly and consistently, then import it into the new v8 CMS whilst maintaining the same content tree structure and URLs.
Doing it this way gave the Access Group team the opportunity to assess and update the content, share previews with stakeholders, and phase the rollout across regions, while keeping the site fully up and running, so there was no disruption to visitors.
Running Umbraco 7 and 8 concurrently was a great success, especially combined with the phased rollout. It meant we could complete any fixes before the upgraded sections went live, and the team could train their colleagues on the new system and show them what was happening and why, all without disrupting the end user experience.
Our pioneering way to migrate content has delivered a site that feels like a new build, while still supporting the existing design. By starting with a clean database, building block-based templates, then importing the content, we’ve tidied up old pages, created consistency across sites, and improved the editing experience.
It’s faster now, and takes less management. Whereas previously, the IT team had to be involved in the process, we can now make changes directly and react quickly to things like Priority 1 tickets, freeing up the IT team. And it will be simple to scale up as the business continues to grow, with a modern deployment pipeline and CI/CD and scalable resources.
We’ve provided a stable foundation for all of the activity that goes on with the Access Group. We’re supporting the team with Umbraco in the long term, and we’ve got them ready for a .NET Core platform in the future. They’re poised and ready to bring new acquisitions into the group at pace.
I always really enjoy working with Paul, he is such a safe pair of hands and I really trust his abilities and opinion. The types of questions that he comes back to us with are really great: just to be able to have those types of conversations and that expertise to lean on is really helpful. The whole team has become a great extension of my team.
Jenni Stacey, Head of Web Experience at The Access Group
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