How To Migrate From Business Catalyst and Find The Best Web Developer For Migration


RIP Business Catalyst

Businesses Scramble to Migrate From Business Catalyst

Many business owners large & small need to migrate their websites to a new platform as Business Catalyst shuts down March 26, 2020.

The closing of Catalyst gives business owners that are using Catalyst some serious problems. The most pressing issue is what to migrate to, and how to do it?  We look at the best solutions to moving forward and look at advice on finding the right digital partner for your migration.

Run away from people who said Catalyst was a good idea.

If you have worked with a company that said that Business Catalyst was a good idea, they are probably not a good bet to work with when looking to migrate away. Most web design firms specialise in one platform, and don’t have experience in proper coding and migration procedures. If they were preaching that Business Catalyst was ‘the best’, odds are that they don’t know much about WordPress, or any other CMS systems.

Work with people who have experience in actual programming across multiple platforms.

You want to work with a web design & development firm that has worked across multiple platforms across many years, and can integrate with a multitude of different APIs. At Rare Form, our in house developers aren’t just web programmers. They are proper software engineers who can make your website work exactly to your specifications without trying to stuff you into our ‘preferred’ CMS.

For example, we are currently working with a large scale charity. Their website is on Drupal (which is a dead platform like Catalyst). We are migrating it to a modern looking and better functioning CMS website that better meets their needs. It will seamlessly migrate their large amounts of data & streamline their donation system. We are saving them over £5000 a year in hosting fees alone (which they are thrilled about). If you have a proper web development team, they can not only make something look & work better, but they can also save you a lot of money (because we can do it faster and more efficiently).

Six point checklist to make sure you work with a reputable web design team to migrate you away from Catalyst:

 1.  Ask how many years they have actually been developing websites.

In Oxford alone there are many web design firms who claim they have been making websites for many years, when in fact they haven’t. These companies were direct marketing companies, internet providers, or a printers who switched more recently to doing web design. Rare Form have been making websites since day one, way back in 1998. Lying on the internet is common, just make sure your web designer isn’t lying to you. (If they lie about how long they have been designing websites, what else will they lie about?)

2. Have you promoted Business Catalyst in the past?

Rare Form has worked with Catalyst, but has never promoted it as it is one of the weakest CMS platforms available. We have always been on hand to do migrations and debugging, however. Ensure your migration partner has experience in migration to your new CMS platform.

3. Is your development all done in house or do you outsource?

A lot of web design firms sell the web design and then out source to have the website coded in a foreign country. The code that these sites are based on are generally not as clean. Make sure that your designer does all of their development in house, and that they have senior developers.

4. Does the top level management actually make the websites or do they just sell?

This may sound odd, but there are companies where the main directors don’t know how to design or program, they only do sales. Better websites happen when you cut out the sales people and work directly with the people who design and build your website. First because there is nothing lost in communication, but also brings down the cost of the project because there is less overhead.

5. Make sure they have high level programmers, not just web programmers.

Don’t get me wrong, web programmers are essential. But if you have a complex online shop or integration with other software, or need something custom made, a basic web programmer won’t be able to meet your needs. Ensure that the team has someone with true guru level status. (Our MD and technical lead had multiple patents under his belt and is a true programming guru…if you think it, we can code it).

5. Do they have solid marketing experience?

Web design without a framework in marketing is akin to printing a bunch of flyers but never sending them to anyone. You need to make sure that your web designers have experienced marketing people on board to be able to make sure that your website gets found on Google, and converts visitors into clients.


Business Catalyst shutting down is a big hit for those businesses who trusted their web designers and bought into the Catalyst model. That being said, migrating from Catalyst can be a simple and pain free experience if you choose the right web design team. Ask the questions above, and that will help you find the ideal migration partner.