Eight Steps to a Successful Content Migration

1.  Create a content inventory – a content inventory helps UX professionals assess the content that currently lives on a site. Typically, this essential information is documented in an Excel spreadsheet where names, URLs and media types are identified to simplify the content migration process.

2. Obtain an inventory of binary files (images, PDFs, CSS files, Office Docs, Flash etc) – You might be thinking “that sounds like an smart idea, but I’m never going to do it because it sounds so tedious.” However, if you keep an inventory of binary files, then it will likely save you or your content manager friend a lot of time and headache later on. To capture this data, you may need access to the content management system or at least gain a basic understanding of it before diving headlong into the project.

3. Find the missing pieces – This could include broken links in the content. Of course, in a perfect world, there wouldn’t be any broken links on the live site. Often times, when it’s time for a major site resdesign or content migration, the content strategists discover “the missing pieces” and take the initiative to inform the rest of the internal team. Do whatever you can to make their job easier, or else you may have to go and find a new content strategist and he/she isn’t exactly easy to come by.

4. Determine the menu structure – Menu structure is more commonly known as the site nav. or subnav, allowing users to discover content through logical categories which they can easily find. Content strategists and interaction designers should lead the decision-making as to how the content is organized on the site, because they often have the best understanding of how it’s all interconnected. 

5. Understand the parent/sibling connection so the links to content resources aren’t broken in the midst of the porting over process. Please don’t shudder at the thought of documenting hyperlinks, because it’s really the only way to stay sane in the midst of site migration. It’s a common practice to document all of the parent pages and sibling pages on a site before a major site migration so everyone can keep their wits about them.

6. Remove the Resources from the pages and store them into a database or file structure – This step if often overlooked and it’s very important that all resources are stories in a logical manner so you or other key team-members can find easily. Depending on your organization, a project manager, content manager or a digital asset manager may take the lead on this particular task.

7. Extract and organize  HTML content – If you have a basic understanding of HTML coding, then performing this task shouldn’t be too time consuming. However, you will probably have to navigate your way around the dreaded content management system in order to extract this information. Organizing HTML content logically might sight like a headache, just make sure that the developers and project managers are openly sharing information with you and this should streamline the process.

8. Upload the resources (assets, text, video files, images) to the new CMS – either by using the API or the web interface and store the new location in a Database or XML. This is when the project managers, content managers and developers become extremely integral to the overall content migration process. The content managers and developers should take responsibility for uploading the content to the new CMS, and project managers should ensure they have the proper training to navigate their way around the system.

Now that your content migration is complete, you can go outside, enjoy the warm weather and sip a margarita…you earned it. Of course, I’d imagine that the development team has an ungodly amount of QA testing to perform before pushing the content live. But just take my advice and as the wise woman Scarlett O’hara once said “think about that tomorrow.”



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