In Part 1 of this post, we examined two strategies for a successful content migration: 1) Plan and 2) Get Organizational Buy-In Early, and Identify and Empower Key Content Stakeholders. In this post, we’ll delve into 3 other strategies that can help in ensuring a thorough and painless content migration: 3) Migrate and Re-Use Quality Content, 4) Train Editorial and Marketing Teams, and 5) Fill in the Gaps.
#3: Migrate & Re-Use Quality Content
A lot of our clients have websites that are full of rich content created by subject matter experts. When it makes sense to do so, we help clients keep this relevant, well-developed content as close to the original version as possible — aside from the wealth of knowledge that we can re-use, it also means less work to recreate content that's otherwise perfectly useful. We recommend reviewing the new site page structures during the planning stage (based on designs produced by the creative team) to determine if they work well with content being ported over from the current site. A quick side-by-side comparison of the current site against the new design goes a long way in helping to visualize the desired end result.
Dynamic Content Migration Through Mapping & Scripting
If a site has been built in the last 3-5 years, there’s usually a good content structure in place to work with. For those that are powered by a CMS, we can use the existing content structure to create algorithmic rules to pull over a lot of content dynamically.
If it’s a much older site (or a custom CMS that has been built in-house from the ground up), we’re usually able to find some consistent patterns from which we can generate rules to automatically import a bulk of the content. Even with static HTML sites, if we’re able to find matching tags or some other consistent pattern with how the pages are structured, we can use those to identify what areas or sections we can pull in.
"We work with clients to create a migration mapping document which lists out all the possible components on the new site and what they match on the current site, like a key or legend on a map."
For example, say a page template has multiple components, then the mapping documentation identifies where to look on the old site for the content that will populate each component, and the scripts will then pull that content over to the new solution.
Let’s say we are working with a site that has thousands of news articles. Assuming each of the news pages on the current site has a similar structure that includes the page title, author, date, and overall body copy (either text, images, or videos, and some related information on the right side), we can easily map all of this content into components in the new design. The development team can then write scripts to dynamically migrate these thousands of news articles all at once.
Earlier in my career, I worked with a digital solution that had 700 individual microsites, one for each of the 700 locations. Each microsite had custom content for the given location but was structured similarly compared to the other location's sites. To execute the migration of content from these microsites to the new digital solution, I formulated rules based on an analysis of a few of the microsites, along with some calculated assumptions about various facets of the content based on where they appeared within the page structure.
#4: Train Editorial & Marketing Teams
We typically train the content authors, editors, and others that will be managing content or marketing efforts within the new platform to demonstrate what we’ve built and how to use their new CXM solution. If they have used the same system before, we show them where the changes are and inform them on any updates to their current process that they’ll need to be aware of. During the User Acceptance Testing phase (which happens on a rolling basis throughout our projects), they’ll have opportunities to go into the new system, try it out, and get comfortable with it. This way, when we conduct the final content freeze, migration, and cutover, they will have had ample amounts of time to become familiar with the new solution. Depending on the size and scale of the solution, our training efforts can range from a day or two, up to a full week.
#5: Fill in the Gaps
Once content has been automatically migrated to the new solution and the involved teams have been trained, the content then needs to be reviewed and prepared for launch. Since there could be hundreds of thousands of pages in a given digital solution, it would be unrealistic for the client team to test every single page before launch. We suggest reviewing key landing pages, as well as the most recent and visited pages to ensure that their content and functionality are working as expected.
Preparing for Launch: Content Reviews
To assist our clients with reviewing their content, we create instructional documentation that is aimed at making their testing more efficient. These documents contain links that help clients easily compare content on the existing live site vs the new environment, along with notes on what to look out for when examining the content in the latter. We also provide examples to help clarify the review process. This helps with ensuring that all the dynamically migrated content looks as it should prior to launch.
Preparing for Launch: Content Clean-Up
Through our content mapping documentation, we are able to identify components where the content may need manual cleanup or creation. Our training includes specific sessions with detailed instructions on the steps our clients will need to take to manually add or clean-up content. This process also provides an additional opportunity for editorial and marketing teams to further become conversant with the new solution.
Integrating Content and Design
Content migrations don't have to be overwhelming. Utilizing the 5 strategies covered in this post series allows us to have a solid plan in place and empower the involved teams to ensure a smooth, comprehensive content migration. By prioritizing content throughout website redesigns and other digital initiatives we're able to create unique digital solutions with messaging that is memorable and impactful.