3 steps to planning your website content migration


Are you headed into a website redesign or update (which may or may not include a CMS change) ? And, are you sure that your website’s content migration strategy has been thoroughly considered into the roadmap of your project? Let me explain further;

Imagine you’re building a supermarket. The structure is finished but the shelves are empty? While the builders are celebrating completing on deadline and within budget, the store manager is asking, “Where’s the stock? Where are the staff? How can we serve our customers?”

Realising the error of their ways, the night before opening everyone furiously chucks ‘stuff’ onto shelves. They open on time but the supermarket is a total mess. Over the next few weeks, there’s a mad scramble to get things under control causing stress, overtime and inevitably a couple of resignations. In the meantime, the customers have a terrible experience so choose to visit another supermarket instead. 

To deliver a successful website, you’ve got to have high quality, responsive content to ‘fill your shelves’. This ensures you provide excellent customer service, can sell your products and keep customers coming back. Your content will make or break site traffic, engagement and conversion to sales. A lack of content migration planning results in:

  • Time and money wasted  – This is normally around the rework of design, content creation/edits, website development and having to hire additional staff/pay overtime at the last minute to deliver these requirements.

  • Delayed website launches – If the content isn’t ready then the website can’t launch on time. The launch date is often critical to the business so any delay will actually affect your bottom line.

  • Damaging customer experiences  – When content isn’t ready on time, with a pending or missed launch date, the ‘solution’ is often to dump old or poor quality content into the new design with the view of fixing it after go-live. In my experience, these ‘fixes’ rarely happen so this poor quality content creates equally poor experiences for your customers.

  • Failed business objectives  – When you mix project delays, poor quality information and poor customer experience it’s hard to achieve acquisition and retention based business objective.

Over the years, I’ve created this three-step process to help guide companies through their content migration strategy.

Step one – Understand your current content

  • Compile a report containing all the content you want to migrate into your new site which will include stats, and the different types of content web pages, copy, video, FAQs etc

  • Identify who the content owners and stakeholders are so you know who is responsible for what so those decision makers can confirm what days, what goes and what gets updated.

Step two – Evaluate the quality of your content 

  • Evaluate the quality and relevance of your content using heuristics or best practice standards to review the content – if the content doesn’t meet the standards it either won’t be migrated to it will need work before it can be

  • Decide which content will move into your new website

  • Define what needs to happen to the content before you move it- this can include major or minor rewrites, merging page content together and/or archiving content

  • Confirm how the content will fit together within the website architecture

Step three – Creating and managing your new content

  • Understand the content requirements for the new CMS and design

  • Calculate how long the content will take to gather/create/repurpose for the new site

  • Create a build and publish/go-live plan

  • Define the content creation process

  • Estimate the resources needed – people, processes and tools – needed to create and load the content, set key dates/milestones and identify risks

  • Identify the tools needed to create and gather the content while the new website build is in progress. Reduce the use of multiple tools and make the sign off process easier with a content gathering tool like this gathercontent.com

  • Create a plan to transition to BAU

And, finally

Design and content must run hand in hand so I’d recommend completing the content audit before design and development starts. Ideally, it should be part of a discovery sprint and understanding your users. This way what we learn from the content audit process can inform design and development.

To make a real impact on your customers and get more sales, content must be treated as king.

If you’re about to embark on a new CMS/Content Migration project but don’t know where to start get in touch with me for a free consultation.

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