Best Practices: Migrating Content to A New CMS

By Jillean Kearney on March 02, 2016

Best Practices: Migrating Content to a New CMS Retiring a content management system and moving to a new platform always requires the (sometimes tricky) process of content migration.

Content migration is the process of moving existing web content to a new platform. Every website's content migration is unique depending on how much content you take with you as you jump from one platform to the next, as well as a handful of other factors.

Content Migration Tools

Each content migration process will most likely need both automated software/scripts and good old-fashion manpower to get the job done. Common content migration tools are outlined below.

A Project Manager

A dedicated project manager makes all the difference in facilitating a smooth transition to a new CMS. A project manager will keep everything on track by breaking the entire content migration process into smaller phases and assigning out roles and responsibilities. They will also promote communication between all team members, including content editors, content managers and IT.

Project Tracking

Project tracking is the process of mapping out aspects and phases of content migration. Examples includes listing out an inventory of your content and the all the steps involved in the manual migration workflow (including editing and reviewing web pages). Excel spreadsheets are your best friend when it comes to project tracking.

Automated Tools

You can purchase software or create custom scripts that can take existing content from your legacy CMS and shift it over to the new one. These content migration tools are ideal for large databases, document and media libraries, etc.

Getting Started: Evaluating Your Content

To make the content migration process an easy one, a solid foundation must be laid. It all starts with an understanding of your content and how it will be handled.

Take Inventory

Taking inventory of your content means understanding what and how content is managed through your legacy CMS platform. This includes metadata, webpage hyperlinks, file types, etc. Before any migration can start, it's a best practice to create lists for every type of content on your website. Each list should include where/how it is kept and managed in your current setup, and how it will be handled during the migration to the new platform.

The creation of each list can be done automatically using a software package or by developing a custom script.

Create a Content Strategy

This is where the manual work comes in. The next step is taking your content inventory and creating a strategy for moving it to your new platform.

This step includes combing through and assessing content and deciding what to take with you and what to leave behind. If content isn't necessary, it can be deleted and excluded from the migration process.

Another aspect of your content strategy should outline how much cleanup and revision is necessary for migration. If content has any technical requirements, like custom coding, this should be hammered out during this phase.

Additionally, this is where you should decide whether content migration will be carried out in an automated process or manually. 

Tip: Moving to a new CMS platform can affect your content and how its handled and presented on your new website. For this step, it's a good idea to familiarize yourself with your new CMS and understand how the platform handles everything, including aspects like page titles, authors, etc.

Map Out Your Metadata

Categorizing and tagging content becomes a really important organizational tool during the content migration process. Using a spreadsheet to track how content relates to each other across different sections of the website and other variables using tags and categories.

The overarching goal of mapping out metadata is to make all of your content easy to search, sort and filter within the back-end and front-end.

The Migration

After taking inventory of your content, creating a content strategy and mapping out metadata, it's time to migrate. If you've decided to go with the automated route, then it's a matter of developing scripts, migrating content, cleaning it up and then testing everything.

For those that are going with manual migration, a workflow should be set up that breaks down every step required to take an existing piece of content and turning it into a new piece of content on your new platform. The workflow should include steps like entering metadata, page titles, etc.

Finally, we've arrived at the testing/reviewing stage of the content migration process. It's important to make sure that your content looks good and displays correctly in all browsers and on desktop, mobile and tablets.

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March 02, 2016
Categories:  Blog posts

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