The other side to Drupal migrations

Up until now, site migrations have been studied from a development point of view in our “Understanding migrations in Drupal 8” blog, considering the ins and outs of what is required to make it all happen. However, there is another aspect that is less talked about but equally important in the process, and it is the strategy behind content migration.

Site migration, also referred to as content migration, is the movement of content from one Content Management System (CMS) to another. These processes, although simple in definition, often involve many factors such as redesigning or a restructuring of the architecture to name a few, which imply that the content migration process involves way more than just a “copying and pasting” of the existing content.

Aspects considered in content strategy

1.- Evaluate the current site

Perform a sitewide analysis, generate a sitemap, review page titles, current URL structures, and the media that exists. This is a great opportunity to identify broken links, duplicates and evaluate if older content is still relevant and needed. The recommendation is that, if older content is not needed, the client should opt to only migrate the last couple of years (for example, migrate items that date back to six years ago maximum) and to highlight and prioritize the pages with the highest visibility.

2.- Determine the type of migration that will take place

Migrations are usually either automated, which come over using a script, or manual, which is a process also known as Content Creation, and implies manually building the pages that didn’t come through the automated script. Most projects require both of these in order to fit everything into the new site. It is important to identify which pages will be manually built, which will be automated, and what the level of effort for these tasks will be.

3.- Identify the deadline and plan accordingly

Looking at the numbers and all the URLs, as well as trying to determine when the client’s are going to be trained and presented with the new site, can definitely become overwhelming and knowing where to begin might be one of the biggest challenges. This is why prioritizing is key. Look at the deadline and start mapping out when each task will be done. This will have to be reviewed with the developers and team leads to consider additional timing aspects like the overall work cadence since not every feature may be available from the start. It is also important to take into account potential bugs and issues that may arise, the total number of people that will be involved in the process, the amount of time that will be dedicated and potential fallbacks. Estimate the time it takes to build pages, review and cleanup automated migrations, setting up landing pages, amongst other tasks.

4.- Make time for QA and User Acceptance Testing (UAT)

Even in the best and most detail oriented content team, it is expected that things may not look 100% from the beginning. When the team sits for hours on end working on the site, it may be challenging for them to pick up every single bug, inconsistency or error and this is why it is recommended that there’s a QA team involved. Catch bugs and identify what is the best way for your team to record and fix these. Once everyone that has had eyes on the site believes that pages are as ready as possible for launch, it is recommended to run a UAT period with stakeholders for them to give everything the final sign off.

In summary

With all the work that goes into migrating a website, one of the key factors for success lies in the existence of a solid content migration strategy. Although simple sounding, as mentioned before, there is a lot of work, thought and time that has to be put into the process in order to ensure overall success. This may all be a challenge, but with the right team and a solid content strategist, changing or creating your website could be the next groundbreaking step for your business.

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