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XenForo conversion review - 6 Months on.

Slavik

XenForo moderator
Staff member
#1
So it's coming up to the 6 Month mark since P8ntballer switched over to XenForo. Whilst we were not one of the earliest to switch over (as we carefully reviewed XenForo to make sure the switch was right to do) we were one of the early "larger" boards at the time.

So, this is my review on the transfer 6 months on. Exact figures will not be made available, but maybe my methodologies or actions done may help others.

Any questions? Just ask.

1) Lack of features / loss of functionality
Honestly speaking, this has been a very small issue. Blogs, Albaums, Groups, Tags etc etc.... not missed. Smaller things such as members being able to edit their own titles were however missed (and still needed for 1.2). Some core items are definately needed, such as post edit histories and template comparisons.

2) Member interaction
Up across the board, people are more active and posting, PC's also up, new user registrations up. I think the whole user interation experience is greatly improved from vB4 and it shows. Enhanced search is working great and people are finding what they want much more easily.

3) Traffic
Our protocol for the redirections was as follows.
Installed XF in our root (previously VB was in /vb/) did the transfer and placed the vb4 redirection script in the vb directory. At the end of the first month we used webmaster tools to force updates on the reamining cached /vb/ urls. At the end of the 3rd month we removed the contents of the vb folder entirely apart from the redirection scripts..

The results? Well we took a hammering in pure numbers. Simple as that. Whist we retained our google ranks and relevency in results, our pure numbers visitor numbers / pageviews got hammered. In the last few weeks they have started to climb back up, but still not to what they were before. Our returning visitor, pages per visit and time on the site are all up. So people are sticking around, but not as many are coming through the gates. Hopefully in 12 months this will have resolved out.

Update: The actual numbers wernt as bad as we feared, with a 12% change in Ajax loads over pure pageviews, the drop was only minimal, and when calculating figures based on the Ajax loads, our trafic over the 6-12 month period is up overall.


4) Addons
Fortunately due to a great relationship with Robbo our custom addon requirements have been replaced with his great service. We still lack a few smaller addons / functionalities but they are nothing noticed. Overall the quality of addons here at XenForo (aside from a select few) seem to be of higher quality than those at VB. I think the general feeling is many of the users of XenForo and addon creators arn't your "regular off the self websites" and are people with a bit more knowledgeable background, and this shows in the quality, functionality and features of the addons. The design of XenForo to work with addons probably helps a little also ;)

Conclusion
Was it worth it? In one word yes. We took our time analysing XenForo for our requirements (almost a year) and when we took the change we felt confident it was the right choice. Even now, when comparing it to VB4 we agree the change was right.

The Future
For the near future XenForo will remain my top choice of reccomendation. We were early takers of VB4 and got burned on it. XenForo has delivered what was promised. I hope we start to see 1.2 updates soon to help plan for the future, but equally, we know that even if we have to wait for 1.2, XenForo 1.1 is a great platform we can evolve from.
 

TheBigK

Well-known member
#2
Excellent! Thank you for sharing your experience. We converted to XF from vB+vBSEO in December 2011 and as expected suffered a lot because of loss of traffic and pageviews (directly affected our revenues). But I see that the numbers are going up now and people are talking more. But the most important thing is - I don't have to worry about broken styles, properties and upgrades every 3 weeks. I can now focus on interacting with people and building solid discussions.

We're now venturing into expanding our site and add new exciting things. Can't wait for the mobile style :D
 

Jarod

Active member
#3
We converted to XF from vB+vBSEO in December 2011 and as expected suffered a lot because of loss of traffic and pageviews (directly affected our revenues).
We're now venturing into expanding our site and add new exciting things. Can't wait for the mobile style

Hello,

few questions please
- Did you enable redirecting from old redirects to new or not ? (thread, forums, pagination, members ..)
- Can you share stats with us ? before conversion and now ... 6 moths later

Thanks
 

TheBigK

Well-known member
#4
Hello,

few questions please
- Did you enable redirecting from old redirects to new or not ? (thread, forums, pagination, members ..)
- Can you share stats with us ? before conversion and now ... 6 moths later

Thanks
- Yes, we did set 301 redirects only for threads. We changed our location from /forum/ to /community/
- Will dig into the analytics. Overall, the traffic went down by about 60%.
 

digitalpoint

Well-known member
#5
Why would you disable the old redirects? Doing so negates the value of any/all links you got over the years (as far as search engines are concerned).
 

DRE

Well-known member
#7
Good review Slavik. I wish I had your experience on the addon department though.

My 6 months in when converting from vB4 to xF was in March.

March 2012

1) Lack of features / loss of functionality
The lack of some basic features on not only the admin side but user side is annoying as hell but most members like enough of the new features to over-ride their feelings over the loss.

2) Member interaction
I think it's down but only because I added the chatbox and arrowchat, which actually takes away from both forum posting and private messages.

3) Traffic
My traffic's higher now than it ever was on vBulletin so I'm happy about that. Xenforo really is good for SEO.
Why would you disable the old redirects? Doing so negates the value of any/all links you got over the years (as far as search engines are concerned).
Unless your actual links were posted on a lot of boards and those links were a lot, I don't think it matters after Google re-indexes your site. I think Slavik should've waited a couple months longer though.

4) Addons
We lost live topics, the best modification on vBulletin, a modification so awesome that Kier himself said he would work on one for Xenforo. So yeah, they miss that. I do too. Some peeps complained and just left, never came back. Oh well. We lost the casino and the points market system. My members loved those modifications and there is still no xenforo equivalent for em. That's really the only major disappointment about switching over. Nothing I can do about that. *shrugs*

Conclusion
Everything Slavik said in his conclusion applies to my own site as well.

The Future
Ain't thinking that far ahead. Don't care. I made my site for a friend who is no longer interested in it. So everything I do now is out of habit and genuine curiosity for discovering how stuff works and pimping it out like it was a car or something.
 

Slavik

XenForo moderator
Staff member
#8
Why would you disable the old redirects? Doing so negates the value of any/all links you got over the years (as far as search engines are concerned).
Sorry I should have put it more accurately. After the 3 months we removed the VB folder but left the redirection scripts in place, you had me panicing there thinking I had removed them :eek:
 

craigiri

Well-known member
#12
We moved a similar sized board 3 months ago, but this is our slow season so I am waiting a few more months before I post a report like yours.

However, I can report that our SEO did not suffer one bit and has, in fact, increased (more organic goog searches ending on our site!).....

Another key metric which seems to have increased in the percentage of NEW visitors. Both of those stats make me very happy.....

Page views are down quite a bit - BUT, that is because - IMHO - of good things! The search in XF is much better, so people find results quicker. SEO tends to send people directly to the proper page and area.

Also, the AJAX stuff means not as many "official" page loads -my old EE forums had lots of extra page loads when searching, posting, replying, etc.....

The only down side here is that I will have to explain to some of my vendors why they are getting fewer banner impressions.......but, as I said once before, those extra impressions were somewhat fake.
 

tafreehm

Well-known member
#13
I am also a big board owner and recently (a month ago) migrated from VB4+vbseo to XF. Everything is great except a lil lack of much needed feature(at least for me)
anyways, as far as traffic concern I actually received a (slight) rapid lift to my traffic stats and I was pretty shocked. However, my adsense is down a bit I think its because of the placement I gotta work on that. And I m also surprised that your traffic got hammered. All I did was to run import save a new table as log (as it gives you option to do so) and apply the 301 redirect script and ofcourse tell google webmaster tools(GWT) about url structure change. Oh and I also deleted all sitemaps from GWT and uploaded new ones. Thats it !!

Hopefully, you will see improvement soon !!
 

dihuta

Formerly Dinh Thanh
#14
I have 2 nodes free in my LB system after moving to XF. Pagerank is same, higher user activities. Some contents such as Blog, Album was lost, but we don't care them much. My members also like Xenforo.

Too much things to do with new system but I love these jobs. I become a very active member on Xenforo.com, here whenever I'm online with my laptop.
 
#15
Hey Slavik,

thanks for your great conclusion. You're making me feel much better. We (6 Mio. Posts / 70.000 Users) are switching from vB 3.8 to XF in two weeks and i'm getting a little bit nervous about it. ;) I will also post some updates and feedback how it worked out with us.
 

Jake Bunce

XenForo moderator
Staff member
#18
I am also a big board owner and recently (a month ago) migrated from VB4+vbseo to XF. Everything is great except a lil lack of much needed feature(at least for me)
anyways, as far as traffic concern I actually received a (slight) rapid lift to my traffic stats and I was pretty shocked. However, my adsense is down a bit I think its because of the placement I gotta work on that. And I m also surprised that your traffic got hammered. All I did was to run import save a new table as log (as it gives you option to do so) and apply the 301 redirect script and ofcourse tell google webmaster tools(GWT) about url structure change. Oh and I also deleted all sitemaps from GWT and uploaded new ones. Thats it !!

Hopefully, you will see improvement soon !!
A drop in page views according to some metrics (like analytics) is expected in most cases because XF uses a lot of AJAX to avoid entire page loads. That will reduce the number of page views which is actually a good thing.
 

petertdavis

Well-known member
#19
A drop in page views according to some metrics (like analytics) is expected in most cases because XF uses a lot of AJAX to avoid entire page loads. That will reduce the number of page views which is actually a good thing.
It's not always a good thing. Some forums' revenue may depend on delivering a certain number of ad views to a sponsor or ad network, and if less page loads puts them below the threshold of ad views they need to deliver it could be bad news.
 

craigiri

Well-known member
#20
It's not always a good thing. Some forums' revenue may depend on delivering a certain number of ad views to a sponsor or ad network, and if less page loads puts them below the threshold of ad views they need to deliver it could be bad news.
Correct - BUT, assuming that advertisers expect results, things would be the same or better. That is, one ad would stay on the page a slightly longer (relative) time and click through would increase......

All those extra ad displays would only count to advertisers who cared about the metric itself, rather than the reasoning. This would be akin to adding more banners to each page - for instance, two of them right next to each other, to make up the difference! There would be a point of diminishing returns.

Still, it is an issue that I will present to my advertisers on their next renewal. I will lower the promised number of banner displays.