When I read her recent listserv response about tips for preparing to migrate content to a new website, I was so impressed I asked the poster—content strategy pro Hilary Marsh—if she’d be willing to write a guest post for Mizz Information. Lucky for us she agreed—so whether you’re preparing to move your org’s web content to a new site or just want to do an inventory of your web content, this post’s for you.
Like it or not, content migration is an inevitable part of a website’s life. I was recently asked how to catalog content and identify what to migrate in preparation for a redesigned website or CMS.
At a high level, content migration is a four-step process:
1) Create an inventory of the content you have now.
It’s important to have two additional pieces in your inventory:
- The date it was created and/or last updated (from your CMS)
- How many unique pageviews the content has received in the last year. CAT can include this information if you connect it with Google Analytics, or you can add this data yourself.
Finally, there are other things that are extremely helpful to know:
- content type
- department that created the content
- individual who owns the content
This will help you better classify what you have, identify gaps in your content, and see content clusters and patterns of effectiveness.
I’ve created an audit spreadsheet where you can collect all of this information
2) Review your content and recommend an action.
This is the most thought-heavy piece of the effort.
In reviewing content, you’ll want to look at several things:
- fit with your strategic goals
- ability to meet your users’ needs
Based on these factors, determine what’s still effective as-is, what needs to be revised before it’s migrated, and what should not migrate at all. Your decisions need to be consistent and as objective as possible – therefore, it’s best to document each of them. (“In general, we keep content that is less than one year old, with the following exceptions for these specific content types or from specific departments or on specific topics.”) The better you articulate your decisions, the easier it will be to either defend them as necessary or change them with good reason.
To help you get started, I’ve created a content criteria document that lists common content rules.
3) Vet your recommendations.
Discuss your decisions with the individuals in your organization who create/own the content, and adjust as needed.
4) Create a plan and schedule for the revisions and migration.
If your website is like most, you’ve probably marked 25 percent of your content to be kept as-is, 25 percent to be deleted, and 50 percent to be revised. (However, some of my clients have chosen to eliminate 50 percent or more of their content that is redundant, outdated or trivial – also called content ROT.) You’ve got your work cut out for you.
To manage the revision process, the best tool I know is GatherContent. Alternatively, you could use a project management tool like Basecamp, Asana, or Trello, but GatherContent has the added benefit of actually storing the content, and it integrates with many CMSs, so you could use it as an interim step for capturing the revised content in its new structure before the CMS is ready (which happens frequently).
The more of your revisions that are complete, the easier your content migration process will be.
Please let me know if I can help shepherd your organization through this process.
Hilary Marsh is president and chief strategist of Content Company, a content strategy consultancy helping associations, nonprofits, and intranets make sure their content meets user needs and accomplishes business goals.