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Convert Website to Drupal Ubercart

Convert website to Drupal

This week we have undergone another task involving conversion of an established ecommerce website from Creloaded (Oscommerce) to Drupal 7.12 with Ubercart 3.0. I'm taking this opportunity to introduce you to the three systems and very briefly share with you the migration process, the detailed conversion steps will be put in a separate article in future.

Update: As promised, the PHP script for migrating the users to Drupal and Ubercart can be found on this page.

Drupal is known to be one of the best content management systems (CMS), and when combined with Ubercart, an advanced e-commerce solution, this shopping cart utilizes Drupal's powerful features to deliver a reliable, secure and comprehensive CMS with an advanced e-commerce solution. You can find out why we choose this software and read more about Drupal.

Creloaded, on the other hand, is an advanced shopping cart based on Oscommerce and it was very popular in the past. However its outdated content manager is very basic and rigid. That is why the client decided to convert the website to Drupal.

Setup Drupal and Ubercart - The conversion process

A Drupal site was set up, with Uber Cart, on a development server in minutes. But to migrate the website to Drupal was not a small job. These were the main steps (challenges):

  1. The Drupal Taxonomies were set up similar to the categories in the Oscommerce store. In our case, the client agreed our suggestion to reduce the shop categories from 11 to 5, for SEO purposes, and to adjust the category names to target busy keywords. Also, a one-tier structure was accomplished with the use of filters instead of sub-categories, thus bringing the products pages closer to the homepage (just one click away).
  2. The necessary content types were set up for discounted products, products reviews, albums, guestbook and the downloads & links sections.
  3. Featured products, products variations and other filters were added to the 'product content types' as CCK fields with a 'select list'. For the products, we had to set up three different 'content types' thus making the product attributes system more flexible and enhancing the URL structure. The URLs were improved further by adding a slash to the end, in the category pages.
  4. Some personalisation and theming were made to the featured products pages, discounted and clearance pages, and the contributed security re-captcha image was added to secure the forms.
  5. A ‘similar items’ view was set up in order to link products in the same categories together.
  6. A 'downloads section' was introduced utilizing Taxonomies, Views and Webform. The downloadable files were entered manually, there were a few.
  7. A 'links section' was introduced, similar to the one on the Oscommerce site, using Drupal's Taxonomy and Views with a custom Content Type, and the linking partners' profiles, content and images were imported.
  8. For the guestbook, we used the contributed EntitiyForms module, this way we avoided node creation of guestbook entries. All the entries were imported from the old site into the new Drupal website.
  9. A 'product review system' was added to increase customer confidence and to give more on-page SEO by linking each testimonial to its product(s). We have archived the imported guestbook entries which are still accessible.
  10. The products data including titles, descriptions, meta-descriptions, images, weights and stock levels were imported programmatically, using fopen(), arraymap() and fputcsv() functions. The product images were imported and placed in a folder in Drupal's files directory, and only clean images names were left on the CSV file. The products descriptions were cleaned by removing the unwanted HTML code created by the OScommerce HTML editor, leaving pure text.
  11. A Ubercart profile was set up, and the user information & purchases history were imported programmatically.
  12. PHPList was set up as the main mass email system, we could have used the contributed 'simple news manager' which is equally reliable.
  13. Requests were speeded up with the support of the contributed Memcache module in order to improve performance.
  14. The URLs of the old pages indexed in search engines were re-directed to new friendly URLs, so that the traffic and rank are not interrupted.
  15. A custom HTML5 theme was built for the new website with mobile browser support.
  16. The new Drupal-Ubercart website was moved from the development stage to a production server.
  17. We ensured there were no orphan pages or broken links, and ensured everything was working.
  18. All registered users were invited to login to the new website with a new password.
  19. An SSL certificate was configured (for security), and 'Google checkout' was added next to Paypal.
  20. The reporting system was improved and 'Google analytics for e-commerce' was implemented.
  21. Feedback and survey forms were introduced using the contributed Webform module. We also advised the client to move to a UK server, since the domain is a .co.uk.
  22. Ubercart manual was sent to the client together with explanation of how to use the administration area, how to add contents and add additional features (drupal modules) through the administration interface.
  23. The client provided additional content introducing categories and important pages for SEO enhancement. Limited keyword search was conducted during the website development.

What did the client benefit from the website conversion?

Of course it is unfair to compare Drupal or Ubercart to Creloaded. Here are just a few of the benefits of this move:

  • Much cleaner code and improved performance, thanks to Drupals 7 built-in cache system and Memcache.
  • Improved Security and better product presentation.
  • Improved structure and more organised website which is now search engine friendly.
  • Comprehensive reporting, analytic and advanced sales reporting system.
  • State-of-the-art news manager, our client no longer needs to use third party services for his mass emails.
  • Mobile website has better browser support with a responsive theme built on HTML5 and CSS3!
  • Better opportunity to catch up and go with the fast moving trend.

The migration challenges and difficulties

  • It is not possible to use the encrypted user passwords created by Oscommerce and they cannot be reversed
  • Usernames, used by Drupal, must be unique
  • Dates must be converted to timestamp format
  • Mapping of purchase history can be confusing
  • Mapping and matching country codes was not easy
  • Oscommerce does not record zone types, Drupal does

The whole process of planning, development, data and content migration, server settings, theming, and some SEO improvements took about 80 hours. For sure, the converted website has a cleaner code and better performance, and its Ubercart-based online shop serves its clients far better than the old system, and gives products more exposure in search engines.

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I suggest to all SEO guys to create your own personal blog and do submission inside directories. This is what gives the company a voice, and will increase the interest of your users.

is it easy to convert my website to drupal? it is evident drupal can give many benefits over oscommerce andI’m encouraged to change my website after reading your article.

I like the benefits of converting to drupal and I'm sure that the people visiting this blog will take a lot from your content and points of view.

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