Content analysis / content audits / Content insight / Content Strategy

How to migrate a website

Elena Plaiter

The info here is based on a project I did in 2012 to migrate a microsite into a main site. I haven’t gone into any detail around determining IA, UX or stakeholder involvement.

Agree brief

  • Goals & KPIs: Why are we doing this? What is our goal? Are there any KPI’s?
  • Key messages: What key messages need to remain? Or be removed?
  • Stakeholders: Who are they? How do they need to be managed? Are there any holidays that will disrupt the project? Will customer service teams need to be briefed?
  • Deadline: Due to the nature of digital content, and potential unforeseen technical or editorial issues, the project duration is difficult to estimate, but easier to predict post-audit.
  • Audience: Who will be the new audience? What will they expect to see there? What do we want them to do or learn?
  • Scope: How many pages are to be audited? Will unpublished or hidden pages be audited? How many will be migrated? Where is the content moving to?   Will you also need to consider/edit existing content in the destination site? Will sign in procedures be an issue?Are there any database considerations?
  • Constraints: Any internal constraints (people, processes, policies, organisation objectives, budget, time, technology, functionality)? What about external (user opinions, competitors, socioeconomic trends, politics, environment, government guidelines, technical advances, legal, 3rd party agreements, accessibility)?
  • Risks: Are there any risks? What about Google rankings? Broken links?
  • Tactics: Are you migrating like for like, or devising a new structure/IA? Will you be deleting, merging or editing pages as well? Are there any current stats, or strategies that may inform decisions? Do you need to set up link redirects?
  • Skills and resources: Will technical/coding skills be required? Will you need to resize images? Or alter video embed codes? Will you need to lead a team of Editors, or is it a one man job?
  • Testing: Who will do this? Will you need to draw up testing plans? Will you be doing user testing on the proposed changes?
  • Maintenance: Do you need to assign content owners? Or make plans for how the migrated content will be managed and maintained? Will you need to archive the old site?
  • Strategy: Will this ‘drop out’ of this project? Will it inform an existing/new strategy?
  • Evaluation: What is the sign off procedure? Are there any evaluation measures for success?

Review supporting documents

Do you need information on: existing stats, goals, key messages, audience, UX considerations and insight, tone of voice and brand guidelines, content production processes, CMS or any other considerations?

CMS training

Do you need training on how to use the existing and destination CMS?

Agree tactics

Generally this will be quantitative audit > qualitative audit > map > migrate > archive > manage, but will be determined in part by the brief.

Record scope

Record on a spread sheet (one row per page) what is in scope:

  • Insert an ascending numerical column as a ‘safety’ guard.
  • ID number (from your CMS/page URL:
  • URL (to quickly click and access the page throughout the project).
  • Level names (the final lelel being the page title.

Check if any of this can be automated by the CMS.

number ID No URL Level 0 Level 1 Level 2 Level 3
1 3 Home
2 123 –    Be Informed
3 127 –    Be Informed –    About Us
4 121 –    Be Informed –    About Us     What is XX
5 144 –    Be Informed –    About Us     History of XXX

Current site quantitative audit

It may also be relevant to record the following info to review if anything needs to change, to quickly filter out information, check work post migration:

  • Published
  • Publication date
  • Platform
  • Template
  • Multimedia content (video, audio, gallery, images etc.)
Published Where: (CMS, static HTML, server) Template type Links in Links out Images Video Downloads
Y HTML (CMS) home 231 52 7 0 1
Y HTML (CMS) landing page 2 231 89 10 0 0

Review analytics

Record any stats to inform decisions and benchmark for success (e.g. time on page, bounce rate, repeat visitors).

Page rank Interaction level
1 S, 2, 3

Record the ‘people’ element

If you are working with others on the migration project, or handing over ongoing maintenance, this will be useful.

Owner Approver

Record metadata

If necessary, to ensure consistency once the content has been migrated.

Related links Keywords Metadata

Qualitative review

Determine if the content is any of the following to determine migration plans:

  • R/O/T (Redundant, outdated, trivial
  • Relevant to the use
  • Relevant to the organisation
  • Useable (not here how the content can be improved)
Redundant, outdated, trivial? Relevant/useful to audience Relevant/useful to us Usable? understandable, relatable, well-written, ToV, web friendly) Content type/modules (non-self-explanatory)

Plan the migration

You may do this during stakeholder workshops. Record on audit spreadsheet:

  • Proposed action: delete, migrate as is, migrate and edit, merge and migrate. Deletion will be based on whether content is (redundant, outdated or trivial).
  • priority for attention
  • whether the page will become a re-direct and where to
Proposed action Priority for attention Comments Re-direct?
Delete Yes Yes
TBC Yes Bring relevant ‘about us’ info here TBC
merge and migrate Yes Merge with 123 and remove North specific content No
merge Yes Merge with 123 and remove West specific content TBC

Map existing pages to new site

When you know what is being migrated you can suggest a new IA (you may do a card sorting workshop internally and/or externally to inform this, and wish to test it too).

Record this within audit spreadsheet to identify a task list for migration. You may also identify any new content needs.

Where to map to

Migrate agreed content

Including text, images and video where necessary. How will it be migrated – automated, manually or a mixture of both? Will you need a content freeze in place on the existing site during the migration? Will you set up re-directs now?

Archive old site

Job done!


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