Large-scale Migration to Joomla with Matomo tracking | 2019

HV Digital’s remarkable project involved migrating a 25-year-old paving website to Joomla, preserving SEO rankings, and implementing Matomo analytics. They overcame content challenges with Python and JavaScript, created a custom design, and satisfied a passionate client. The SEO-focused approach led to improved rankings and ad revenue. Tony McCormack, the website owner, praised HV Digital’s competence and professionalism in managing this complex transformation.

  • The Challenge

    After many years of managing a construction company, in 1997 Tony McCormack decided to share his extensive knowledge of paving with the world in the form of a website. In the 25 years that followed Tony wrote close to 1,000 pages of advice and guidance and achieved great popularity and cult status within the paving industry and community in the UK and beyond.

    In 2019, Tony tasked HV Digital with the migration of his static website to a CMS, the redesign of the logo/layout and the reorganisation and structuring of content. And all of this without compromising existing SEO rankings, which were exceptionally high.

    We were also asked by Tony to set up several customised website traffic reports. Since these were outside the scope of Google Analytics, this became the first large-scale project where we installed and customised Matomo analytics. There was also a sense of additional pressure accepting this project, knowing that two previous attempts to meet this challenge had failed, with those developers unable to find a scalable approach to structure the sheer volume of content and migrate the static HTML website to a CMS.

    About the client

    AJ McCormack & Son is the consulting company behind, a website dedicated to all forms of paving. The site has been a hugely influential web resource on this topic for 25 years, with over 125.000 unique monthly users.

    The Solution

    The first phase of the project involved a full review and documentation of the existing site, working together with Tony. The main deliverable of this phase – which took over a month to complete – was a detailed project plan including methods/goals for the reorganisation and presentation of content.

    Having reached this milestone we proceeded with the creation of a custom design and implementation of the interactive layout elements that were planned, including a multitude of forms, calculators, sliders, widgets and CTA variants.

    Perhaps the biggest challenge we faced was how to migrate the 1,000 content pages which had been created as static HTML. After some head-scratching, our developers Joe and Joe (yes, both of the developers are really called Joe) found a unique solution, using a script built with JavaScript and Python to automatically migrate the largely heterogeneous content into a database to be rendered as structured Joomla! Content.

    The Matomo installation required the creation of several custom reports to be prepared and sent to various shareholders at regular intervals. The main revenue stream of the website was on-site advertising and sponsored content, and several of the major investors required monthly reports. Previously these had been generated manually by Tony. In the future our custom Matomo solution would avoid the need for any manual time investment.

    Our co-owner Michael took charge of the SEO aspect of the project, which involved careful preparation, lots of guidance for our developers during implementation and then post-launch several more periodical SEO scans. All of this ensured the site remained well-ranked in Google.

    Lessons learned

    It was a great pleasure to work with Tony, however, working with such a passionate enthusiast was challenging at times, particularly when it came to reaching compromises,  which are a necessary part of such an extensive project. 

    While Tony was keen to overhaul the look and feel of the website, he felt a strong emotional connection to the way it had looked for 20 years, and so the process of redesign was one which demanded compassion and patience from all involved.

    RIP Tony, who passed away in early 2023.
    It was a pleasure and a privilege working with you.

    Notable features

    Content Migration

    Using Python and JavaScript we leveraged automatic scraping techniques to avoid (almost) all need for manual editing or adjustment of content, which saved a great deal of time.

    Content Editing

    We improved the user experience by stretching the capabilities of JCE and adding many out of the box features to enable quicker writing/editing and with shortcodes for custom elements.

    Table of Contents

    For a better reading UX, we implemented a responsive and dynamic TOC (table of contents) generated automatically on the basis of existing page headers.

    Measuring project success

    Great effort was made to safeguard the SEO ranking of the website, and during migration we analysed and reproduced several critical elements from the original website using. We also performed before/after SEO audits to ensure ranking integrity. As a result, thanks to our efforts, over the year following the relaunch the site’s rankings actually improved, favourably impacting both general traffic and on-site ad revenue.

    Client quote

    “It’s impossible to overstate just how impressive has been the effort from HV Digital in taking a sprawling, disorganised, and ramshackle caterpillar of a site that had accumulated over two decades, and metamorphosing it into the amazing, well structured, visually delightful and stunningly functional butterfly of a site that it is today.

    I doubt anyone other than myself, as sole developer and creator of the pavingexpert website, had any real understanding of the true scale, coverage and extent of the hundreds and hundreds of pages added to the site since its first incarnation in 1998. Corralling all that content had previously proven to be a task too much for other web developers. I’d spent two years and wasted thousands of pounds on developers that couldn’t cope with the scale of the task before I found HV Digital.

    At last! Someone able to propose a viable plan, explain how the work would be undertaken, provide the pool of talent necessary for such a large re-development, and then carry out the entire project with a level of competence and professionalism that I’d begun to believe couldn’t possibly exist.

    HV Digital rose to and conquered every challenge, they dealt with every problem, large, small, and unforeseen, and they did the impossible – turning the untameable, nebulous sprawl of an ever-growing website into a manageable and simplified thing of wonder. Their analysts created the outline plan, they appointed a full-time personal project manager to oversee the whole task and then they used in-house talent to develop the look, style and feel. From the outset, they relied on their own SEO specialist to ensure the site would perform for the essential search engines, and, once the new site went live, the SEO team monitored it all for the first month, making every necessary modification, adjustment and tweak to deliver the ideal website.

    Running my own business means I always put in a minimum of 100% and I expect nothing less when I employ external contractors. I regard myself as a ‘difficult customer’ with firm ideas and high expectations. And as such, I have no hesitation in commending HV Digital in the highest possible terms. They delivered.”

    Tony McCormack, Owner
    AJ McCormack & Son