Consequences of switching a website over to Wix or Squarespace?
April 19, 2016 2:50 PM   Subscribe

After redesigning a successful Wordpress site with Wix or Squarespace, will there be a negative effect on online searches from perspective new clients? Also, if worried about malicious attacks from computer savvy people with an axe to grind, what would be the safest option?

My friend Casey has run a successful niche contracting business for over a decade. They've had the same domain name for a long time, and over half of their clients arrive as a result of online searches.

Unfortunately, Casey also has a jerk of an family member with a background in computer stuff. As I understand it, various issues have recently popped up on Casey's Wordpress site, with reason to believe that the family member may have had a hand in it. I don't know enough about websites to diagnose the actual issue.

Casey was already starting to redesign his website, and is wondering if a transition to Wix or Squarespace would make the site safer than staying with a modified Wordpress theme. I'm concerned that switching to Wix or Squarespace will screw up site rankings, which might deal a considerable blow to Casey's new client acquisition.

As far as website needs; overall they're fairly basic (pages, slideshow), but Casey will need an online payment capability.

Thoughts? I'd hate for Casey to be in the middle of working on a new site through Wix before discovering these things; he's willing to hire a person to work on the new site, but wants to be able to make small changes himself down the road, which is why Wix or Squarespace sounded like a good idea.
posted by brisquette to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It may have gotten better, but Wix's JavaScript heavy design has been known to cause SEO problems. There was a big issue just last fall.

If Casey does migrate to a new system, carefully mapping all of the existing URIs (at least the ones that get decent traffic) to the new ones via 301 HTTP redirects will help maintain pagerank.

if worried about malicious attacks from computer savvy people with an axe to grind, what would be the safest option?

Outsource running the server and administering things like Wordpress patches to a site or company that provides all-in-one services. I have no experience with providers for Wordpress, but articles like this will give you a starting point.

Beyond that, they need to be sure that they're using strong passwords that are completely unguessable. Regardless of what platform they end up on, turning off all unnecessary functionality will reduce the attack surface.

If they rarely need to do updates, they could see about switching to something like Jekyll for everything other than the payment system. Because it's just programatically generated HTML files, it's basically unhackable, but would take a certain amount of computer knowledge and/or a consultant to handle updates.
posted by Candleman at 3:16 PM on April 19, 2016

If Casey has admin access to Wordpress he can simply change his password and delete any other accounts with publishing rights. Problem solved, no need to move. Change the server password too if that is an issue.

Moving doesn't have to screw up SEO, but as mentioned above you do need to be diligent about URL maintenance.

Personally, I'm a fan of the flat file systems like Jekyll, or Pelican. But they do require some junior level developer ability to theme and use.
posted by COD at 3:19 PM on April 19, 2016

In addition to changing usernames & passwords (both the server/FTP password and WordPress username/password), I recommend installing the Wordfence Security plugin. There are options to get an email notification every time someone logs in, block access from certain IP addresses, lock out people trying to use invalid usernames, etc.

Beyond that, my recommendations would vary depending on the type of "issues" showing up on the site. Content being altered/deleted from within the dashboard is one thing and malware injections are another. Your friend might want to rebuild the site from scratch on a separate server and install fresh copies of plugins/themes, just to be sure the relative hasn't uploaded malicious plugins or inserted code into the database.
posted by belladonna at 3:30 PM on April 19, 2016 [2 favorites]

The biggest issue here will be in preserving all of the old URLs and preventing dead links.
posted by rhizome at 3:30 PM on April 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'd migrate the Wordpress install to something like wpengine and keep going with the same link structure. It's been a great move for us (formerly on "hardened" VPS with security plugins, read-only folders, etc.) Basically, you get an account, then install their migration plugin, make sure everything's good structure/content/link-wise, have Wpengine do a deep clean of your site (we migrated one over with latent pharma hack issues and it caught a ton of stuff Wordfence and AIOWS wasn't catching), and change the DNS to start serving the same site from the new server.

Neither Squarespace nor Wix do a great job getting indexed and ranking, in my opinion. The redirects might help.

I'd also make some changes in case the family member knows how to access Casey's logins etc. Migrating won't help if it's more of a social attack on the site.
posted by michaelh at 3:47 PM on April 19, 2016 [2 favorites]

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