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A Success Story - One Month After Moving to Xenforo

Discussion in 'XenForo Pre-Sales Questions' started by Andy.N, Mar 18, 2011.

  1. Andy.N

    Andy.N Well-Known Member

    I have seen prospective customers asking for some stats from people who have migrated to XF from another forum software. It's been more than a month since we moved to Xenforo, I decide it's time to share the following numbers just to show my appreciation to many members here who have made the whole process possible and painless.

    Some background:
    I have been a member here since the early days of Xenforo. As an owner of VB since 2006, I discovered XF via twitter like many members here. Closely following the journey of Xenforo, moving to this platform is a foregone conclusion. However, I couldn't make the move until all the custom mods are made for my site, XF is tested with a new server that we planned to move into.

    Fast forward to Feb. Several custom addons made, tested and gone through some testing on a XF beta installation on my live board (still running VB 3.8).

    On D Day, Feb 13, around noon EST, I shut down my forum and made the migration to XF RC3. The whole thing took about 1 hour. The rest of the day, I have to dealt with an influx of email from my members who no longer have the proper permission. Though I did test permission, it does not prepare for all the kinks. I have about 2 dozen private forums and many users who have access to some of these. Once I figured out how to deal with the permission system, it's a quick ride back to normalcy. By the next day, everyone is back and happy.

    About 3 weeks later, we moved our site to Rackspace running nginx which result in very noticeable speed improvement as confirmed by many of our users. The next step for us is a brand new style and design for our site with a branded mobile app by Forum Runner.

    I also like to take this chance to thank Blandt, DarkImmortal, xfrocks, Brogan, Mike and Kier for helping me with the server, making custom mods for our site and helping with all questions I throw at them. They continue to play an incredible role in the success of our transition to a new platform.

    About my site
    Quantnet is a community by and for quantitative finance professionals who is responsible for creating and running trading models on Wall Street. In short, we are a very niche site for males and technical folks. My audience is mostly people with a graduate degree in technical fields and currently studying and working in finance.

    We have been around since 2003 but only open to the public in mid 2006 and experience great growth since then.

    Site link www.quantnet.com
    Forum www.quantnet.com/forum/

    Prior to the move, I purged our member list from 20+K members to 8K to get rid of users who have not visited for over a year and have 0 post.
    As we stand, the site have about 9K members and close to 50K posts. We run Wordpress as our CMS.

    And here are the stats that you have been waiting for. Remember the Feb 13 as the date we move to Xenforo.

    Thanks to our spanking new servers, caching and modern software, our forum is now loaded in under 2 seconds

    Proof http://www.indeep76.com/checks/quantnet.com/28619/

    We can cut it down to about 1 second flat if we remove all the 3rd party javascripts (Quantcast, viglinks, Apture bar, etc)

    These are pictures taken directly from Google Analytics comparing the period after the move to Xenforo with the same duration prior. What jumps right out of this is that the bounce rate is down, time on site is up by almost 1 whole minute, the page views and visits are up considerably.

    Dashboard - Google Analytics.png

    A lot of people have been asking: would my Google organic search traffic suffer? Look at this and the answer should be NO. I simply just use friendly URL, and the redirect script by Kier.

    Search Engines - Google Analytics.png

    While I'm a number guy by profession and I love to watch the stats, the most important question I ask myself is : did the new software make people want to contribute more? Does the software make posting, finding information more fun and easier?

    The answer is a sounding yes. Since XF does not have a builtin stats system yet, I have to run SQL queries to find that out (thanks to Jake Bunce). What I found is very interesting.

    Our forum is very niche so it does not have lot of chit chat/general discussion and one word replies like "LOLz" are really frown upon. On average, the number of post per day is about 70-80 and 100 is on a good day. After we move to Xenforo, the number of post jumps dramatically, sometimes even 3 folds. Just look at this table. I would contribute this to many factors, but the Alert system and how fun it is to use Xenforo is very high on my list.


    How well will Google index our site?

    This is a picture taken from Google Webmasters. We use Jaxel's Xenutiles that generates a sitemap. You can see Google love the new sitemap and a week or two after the move, it crawled and index most of our content.

    Webmaster Tools - Sitemaps.png
    One problem I had with Vbulletin is that Google complained a lot about duplicate contents. You know, the dreaded showthread.php?t and showpst.php?p

    I literally have thousands upon thousands of those complains in Google Webmasters HTML suggestion.

    How about now in Xenforo? Much much better job, isn't it?

    Webmaster Tools - HTML suggestions.png

    Page speed from Google Webmasters.
    The latest snapshot is on March 16. Prior to this, Google took a snapshot on Feb 25 when we still on the old server. We move to the new server in early March.

    Webmaster Tools - Site performance.png
    Vicki, R_A, AnthonyT and 28 others like this.
  2. Saeed

    Saeed Well-Known Member

    Thank you for sharing this with us all, Andy.N. :)
  3. SchmitzIT

    SchmitzIT Well-Known Member

    Great news. I'm more and more tempted to just switch myself. As someone said on another thread, do I really need all the extras like a Galleryor an Arcade? The more I think about it, the more I'm inclined to say I actually don't.
    Peggy likes this.
  4. Andy.N

    Andy.N Well-Known Member

    I wished my members got to play with the new software sooner. At the same time, it's hard to be patient so you can develop mods that are critical to the success of your site.
    We have an addon developed for our site that played an incredible role in helping more and more people to sign up and contribute

    We have a similar one custom built in VB and now we ported/improved them in XF so it's several times better than its VB counterpart. As a result, people use this feature almost daily to keep track of their college application and to check out other people timelines.

    I'm looking at moving to XF as a chance to get rid of about 2 dozens addons I had in VB and start anew ;)
  5. SchmitzIT

    SchmitzIT Well-Known Member

    We also run a few custom thingies, and there one or two I actually consider important enough. One is being developed as we speak, the other I'm trying to find a coder for. But yeah, the more I think about it, the more I am convinced the Gallery and Arcade will probably not be missed as much as I feared.

    Thanks for the thread, though. Really makes me want to migrate myself.
  6. Saeed

    Saeed Well-Known Member

    I agree with EntropiaPlanets. I can't wait to port over the moment I find an alternative to the DownloadsII addon I'm currently using.
  7. Andy.N

    Andy.N Well-Known Member

    We had DownloadsII as well and it was a big hit for new visitors singing up to download PDF research papers.

    Guess what?
    We removed the link, move on and there were 1,2 people have asked about it.

    Sometimes, you overestimate the importance of some mods. If they don't see it, they won't see it.
    gordy and Markos like this.
  8. Saeed

    Saeed Well-Known Member

    I agree with you partly, but it wouldn't really apply if the material you have hosted / uploaded is the reason your members sign up. :)
  9. Brogan

    Brogan XenForo Moderator Staff Member

    Great stuff Andy.

    I too decided to move sooner rather than later, and have seen very similar results with regards to Google Analytics and post counts.

    Using XenForo is just engaging, and as Andy said, the alerts system plays a huge part in that.
    Andy.N likes this.
  10. adchased

    adchased Member

    This is really interesting as you are running Wordpress as CMS, too. Did you ever think about connecting Wordpress with your forum? I thought it would be nice if forum members could comment the articles on the frontpage and have conversations directly integrated in the forum. We thought about using vBulletin CMS because of this, but I would love to switch that plattform over to Xenforo instead of vB. Unfortunately there's no Xenforo CMS yet which is comparable to Wordpress regarding functions, etc.
  11. Andy.N

    Andy.N Well-Known Member

    Have I thought about it?
    I always think about it. It's a constantly on my mind to integrate more between the two platforms. I used to have a WP-VB bridge but it introduced more problems than benefits and it was abandon.
    I'm aware there is a WP-XF bridge here that I can use to let XF users share comments on WP but I don't believe i can promote a XF thread to front page or vice versa yet.

    At some point in the future, a better solution will emerge and I will reconsider then.
  12. ArnyVee

    ArnyVee Well-Known Member

    Great information Andy! :)

    Thank you for sharing!
  13. John

    John Well-Known Member

    Very nice results Andy! Looking forward to seeing that new design in action as well :D
    Andy.N likes this.
  14. Andy.N

    Andy.N Well-Known Member

    I must be more excited than you about that new design, John ;)
  15. Andy.N

    Andy.N Well-Known Member

  16. TNCclubman

    TNCclubman Well-Known Member

    Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh! Im so tempted to jump before the user albums eventually get launched. Reading this just makes me pull more hair out! lol
  17. lazer

    lazer Well-Known Member

    Me too but with the way we currently use vB, we need pre-fixes before we can make the change.

    Great info Andy.N, thanks for sharing!
  18. Wuebit

    Wuebit Well-Known Member

    If you have time there is this gallery :)
    Works fine (3rd party tho)
    Nice one Andy thanks for the info good luck with more (y)
  19. Andy.N

    Andy.N Well-Known Member

    This got a LOL from me.
    Do you know how hard it was for me to resist the temptation to jump right away? I installed every single XF release on a beta section of my live site the first day it came out.
    Had it not for Blandt and nginx not working with early version of XF (beta 4 solved it) as well as the development of our Tracker mod, I would have done this much sooner.

    I originally planned to have the move to XF coincide with a new design for Wordpress theme and a matching XF style but those things prove to be much more time consuming. We also like to get feedback from our users about XF so we can get a custom theme that benefit from those inputs.

    Money wans't a problem. We invested over $1,000 to write our custom addons. I was able to find all the help from the nice and talented people around here.
    Our situation may not apply to majority of forums around here as our website/forum is a business that brings in revenue so every decision was based on our strategic growth. We install mods or build mods that are designed to make it easier for people who come to our site for.

    We didn't install a chatbox, gameroom, gallery or any of those nice features but really underutilized. If those features are driving majority of your site's traffic and activity, then it's wise to wait.
  20. Andy.N

    Andy.N Well-Known Member

    I uploaded 2 new images from Google Webmasters showing our sitemap performance and duplicate issue solved after moving to Xenforo.

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