Strategy

Content Migration

Planning for Effective Content Migration

Migrating to a new web content management system is never a simple and straightforward task. In most cases, marketers take this opportunity to build a new brand and messaging experience. That takes a lot of time and effort. But there's another critical task that is equally challenging – deciding what to do with all your existing content. 

Developing a Migration Strategy

Building a new website is similar to building a new home. From the outside, the new home may be beautiful and meets functional and aesthetic goals; but you cannot live in the home until you furnish it. The walls are bare. The rooms are empty. It is the same with a website. You need to furnish your website with articles, images, and other content to make it livable, to make it live.

Then there is the question of what content should be on the site. You may love that wagon wheel table and old brown couch in your old house, but does it fit the new house?

Migrating to a new web content management system is never a simple and straightforward task. In most cases, marketers take this opportunity to build a new brand and messaging experience. That takes a lot of time and effort. But there's another critical task that is equally challenging – deciding what to do with all your existing content.

There are some tried-and-true tactics you need to perform when moving to a new CMS, and many of them relate to the content. Let's look at your content migration plan and specifically, some things you need to consider when migrating to Ingeniux CMS.

The end goal? Ensuring you have the right plan in place to decide what to migrate and how to migrate it. Let's get to it.


Think Smart About Your New Content

Part of the decision to move to a new website and WCM is to improve your customers’ digital experience. The other part is to increase the efficiency of content creation and deployment through streamlined content management interfaces, features, and tools that enable authors to create content once, and deliver it to multiple channels and devices.

These improvements require you to rethink how you manage content today and look closely at how your existing content is not only written from a creative perspective but a re-use perspective.

If all you do is take the content in its existing form from your current CMS and drop it in your new CMS without taking the time to look at it, then you may be simply be putting garbage into your new CMS. The result of that "garbage in" is that you are going to continue to put "garbage out." In essence, you are wasting your time and money moving to a new CMS.

Just like you architected your website, you need to architect your content. This means defining new content types and modeling the content so it can be more easily reused across the website, or for new channels and applications.

For example, you decide to move all existing abstracts for your blog to the new website, but they are too long, and you can’t simply cut off the last few words. You may decide to move a subset of your current blog posts to the new website as is. However, many of them have links to web pages and other blogs that don’t exist on the new website. You may also have made changes to branding and messaging for a product, but migrated older whitepapers and associated product detail web pages that reference the old messaging.

You have to rethink your content and content management processes along with rethinking your creative.


Create a Content Inventory

A content inventory is your starting point for rethinking content. A content inventory is a list of the existing content on your website.  

Create the list so that it tells you: what you have, where it lives on your current website, who owns it, if it's current or outdated if you need to update or archive it, what it might be missing.  

Once you've looked at what you have, you can decide: 

  • What you can migrate to the new CMS in bulk. 
  • What you want to move, but need to edit when you move it. 
  • What you can remove completely (archive or delete) before you migrate. 
  • What you need to recreate completely. 
  • What is missing. 

You should prioritize your content, so the most important pages will be updated first. This triage approach will help deliver the best customer experience, and ensure that your content maps to your new website. There are several ways to decide which content is most important, but it is useful to view analytics to see what pages are most popular, what journey paths people are using to complete your key goals, and what pages people are landing on from search and other referrers.   

The content inventory also helps you understand who is responsible for the content on your website. These people will make up the authors, editors, reviews, and approvers for your new website. You may already give business users access to manage their content. Often, security is not kept up-to-date, and there may be people in the system who are no longer with the department or company or people who have more permissions than they should have.  

This step will provide the opportunity to figure out which users you need to set up in the new CMS and what roles and permissions they should have. 


Define a Content Strategy

With a content inventory completed, you can move on to the next step, defining a content strategy.

When you design a new website, you aren't likely to move your current home page or main level section pages. These web pages are typically redesigned from scratch to create a new experience. Part of the content strategy is to define the new pages to create and any templates these pages map to.

It's the third level pages where the meat of your content is located that you need to migrate. This includes content such as news, blogs, knowledge-base and technical support content, and other similar content.

For this content, you define a content strategy that lays out the content types, and associated metadata and how it will be used to display content on your website.

In some cases, your metadata strategy, such as taxonomy tagging and SEO, is set up separately from your page model. In other cases, the page model defines the metadata strategy. You may also use both approaches at the same time for different purposes.

A content architect is an important role in helping define the best content strategy for your organization. The content architect reviews the content you have and the content you need to create and recommends the best way to structure it so you can reuse it in a variety of ways, across channels and devices.

A content model defines the core structure of the content items including content types, topics, and metadata. It also defines any workflow or governance rules around that content and the business rules that define how you assemble the content.

The content architect also defines the page model for the new CMS and often plays a key role in the selection of the best CMS to support the content model.


Plan for Asset Migration

You spend a lot of time working on your content strategy for text-based content, but it's equally important to have a migration plan for your other digital assets, such as images, videos, and documents.

The plan should take into consideration things such as:

  • Where you are storing your assets
  • Metadata strategy (included in your Content Strategy above)
  • Any image resizing or processing that needs to take place during migration
  • Any video format adjustments that need to take place during migration
  • Weeding out old, or duplicate assets
  • Collaboration rules


Define Your Content Lifecyle & Redirect Strategy

You have spent a great deal of time on your existing SEO strategy and have earned a solid position. You don't want to lose your standing when you move to a new CMS and website, but this could very well happen.

Your migration plan should address issues such as maintaining or improving search traffic and rank, links (inbound and internal) and user experience and content quality.

A content lifecycle redirect strategy outlines how you will deal with changes with:

  • URLs: Develop your 301 Redirect strategy which informs search engines how your old URLs map to new URLs.
  • Navigation
  • Content: You've likely made significant changes to your content, especially your homepage and main section pages, so it's important to ensure the quality of that content and that your SEO strategy is appropriately applied. You may also need to identify duplicate content and missing content or web pages in the new design. Think about custom 404 pages, an updated XML sitemap, and leveraging Google Webmaster Tools to identify other potential problems that could affect SEO standing.
  • Inbound and internal links: Identify where your site or pages are linked externally and map those links to the new URL in your new website. Also, run an internal broken link report to find any broken links so that you can fix them as soon as possible.

Note that some of the activities in your content lifecycle redirect strategy happen after your website is built and live. It's the planning that you need to identify early on, so you can address issues as soon as possible when you do go live.


Develop a Test Plan

Once you define your migration strategy and know what content to migrate via a migration utility, you'll want to test your migration tool to ensure everything works as expected.

Identify a seed model that works with a defined set of content and metadata and run some tests to determine if the migration is successful once you have the new environment set up.

Migrating a seed model helps you identify any potential problems before you migrate the entire set of content and your full content model, saving time and effort. For example, you might find out that your content model isn’t set up exactly as you need. By testing it against a seed model, you can find and fix issues before you migrate the entire content set from the CMS.

Migration should also be coordinated hand-in-hand with a quality test plan to ensure the website is working as expected before you do an official launch.

You cannot ignore the importance of testing. Many website migrations have failed because they weren't tested adequately before going live. Customers received bad experiences that range from missing pages, incorrect linking, and ineffective searching for content. The purpose of a new website is to improve customer experience, not make it worse.


Import Your Content: Ingeniux Site Import Utility, Manually, or All of the Above?

The Ingeniux Site Import Utility is designed to help people easily migrate content from an existing website or CMS to Ingeniux CMS.

This tool can work in a few ways:

  • Query content from the current database
  • Import content from a structured feed such as XML
  • String parse HTML (e.g., it can map an H1 HTML text to a Title field in Ingeniux CMS)

Of course, there's more to migrating content than simply bringing over the content in the database. The structure of your new website is likely very different, so it's not a straight content import. You need to define templates and page types and map that new content model to the existing one and then migrate the content to map to the new model.

If you don't have a huge website to migrate, then using tools like the Site Import Utility usually isn't worth the effort. Manual migration makes sense in some instances, especially when you don't have a lot of pages or content to move.

Most migration projects use a variety of import approaches. Key content may be created new, but defined content, such as a news archive or blog posts will be imported programmatically. Content that needs to be adapted, is unique or does not follow a pattern may be imported manually.


Ingeniux Site Migrator

Migration involves not only moving content from an old website to a new one. It may also include moving content from one Ingeniux CMS environment to another, such as from a development server to a primary CMS server.

The most common cross-site migration scenarios include:

  • Development to Production
  • From Development to UAT for user acceptance testing
  • On-premise to Cloud

Your migration plan should outline how you intend to migrate your website environment and content between environments as you move from development to testing to production. Migration between the current environment often requires a different approach and can use migration utilities specific to the new content management system.

In some cases, you may be moving from an on-premises version of your Ingeniux CMS to the Managed Cloud version.

Ingeniux provides a cross-site migration utility that helps you move your website and content from one installation to others. It's similar to cloning, packaging content, and moving it between installations.


The Time to Plan a Migration is Now

Don't wait until you are halfway through a redesign process or at the beginning of your migration to the new CMS to define your migration strategy. It's critical to understand what you currently have and how (or if) you plan to move it to the new website and CMS.

A new website and web CMS is a perfect opportunity to clean up your content, refreshing stale content, updating with new information, and getting rid of content no longer required. Figuring what you want to take beforehand saves a lot of time and effort.

Defining your content model after you have performed a content inventory helps you understand how the new website will be structured, how you match existing content, including digital assets, to the new structure, and how you will manage the SEO implications of a new website and CMS.


Solution Guide to Content Migration

The Solution Guide to Content Migration

Without a proper content migration strategy, you run the risk of significantly slowing down your project cycle, meaning your users won't have the information they need to engage with your organization. In this guide, we'll walk you through a few proven content migration strategies and considerations when migrating to a new CMS.

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