Jake Intel

Mark Wahl

How to Plan a Website Content Migration

Quick, what’s the most important part of a website? We’d have a hard time arguing with you if you said ‘content’.

Whether made up of blog posts, image galleries, product listings, research reports or plain old text on web pages, content is the meat and potatoes of any website. Your goal may be to drive conversions of one sort or another, but your content is what makes those conversions possible.

One of the key aspects of a website redesign project is planning how all of that content is going to be moved from your old interface to the new one. Content migration is replete with both challenges and opportunities, and as such is a key aspect of any project we undertake. Here are just some of the tips and procedures we use when planning content migration.

Content Migration Tips and Procedures

Start Early

Make content migration a key part of the website redesign process, and start thinking about it from the very beginning. This will not only help with execution of the migration itself, but also with general project discovery of questions, concerns and expectations.

Assign Responsibilities

Determine who is doing what and when between the production team, the client, third parties, and any others involved.

Coordinate Access

Make sure the team has the access it needs to any relevant systems such as the legacy site CMS, FTP server, and third-party systems. Login credentials can be especially slippery.

Undertake a Content Audit

What content currently exists, what should migrate, what should not, what if any CMS is involved, and most importantly, what opportunities for improvement exist such as:

  • Search engine optimization (keywords, structures, metadata)
  • Web-optimized content
  • Responsive structures
Assess Media

Content is more than just text, and media resources bring their own complexities to the migration process.

  • Images: Determine resolution and quality of existing graphics to identify how they can be used on the new site, and find out if working files are available for additional flexibility.
  • Audio/Video: Determine how high bandwidth elements such as podcasts, video and photo galleries are integrated, and how will they be on the new site.
Plan Backend Structure

Consider how the data will need to be structured in the new site in order to make a home for the content. Will standard WordPress page and post fields do the trick? Custom post types? Advanced Custom Fields? Is a hybrid database needed? Are there any third party integrations?

Create a Migration Map

Map where content on the current site will live within the IA for the new site. A simple spreadsheet may do the trick, or something more complex. Use for:

  • Delegating responsibility
  • Tracking progress
  • Setting up redirection of legacy URLs to pages on the new site
Identify Tools and Formats for Migration

Determine what tools you will you need to actually execute the migration. Manual data entry? WordPress importer? Advanced migration plugins such as All-In-One WP Migration, or WP All Import Pro? How will you prep the content for migration, using Word docs, spreadsheets, zip files?

Coordinate Refinements and Schedule Migration

Plan at what point in the process/system refinements will be made. Will these take place on the old system? Offline? In the new environment? When will the actual migrations take place, and is a content freeze necessary prior to relaunch?

Test and Retest

Plan test imports for the datasets along the way. Have all parties review, and then test again to make sure you get it right. When the time comes to do final migrations, put yourself in a position to be confident they will go smoothly.