Content Migration: The keystone to a successful web redesign (Part 1)
When considering a website redesign thoughts quickly go to new colors, web templates, beautiful images, graphics and neat features. While these elements are important and the fun parts of any redesign project, the aspect of content and content migration often gets overlooked and undervalued.
Without a concerted and tightly coordinated effort, the process of updating and migrating website content can often push back project timelines by weeks, even months, with time spent wrangling content contributors and editing content that was likely just copied and pasted from the old website.
The truth of the matter is, employee workplates are full with the day-to-day projects and operations of their organization, especially for the clients we work with in the government and non-profit sector. The day-to-day always outweighs updating content for the bright new shiny website that employees may have yet to see. If you are thinking about a web redesign, or just want to shake up the content on your current site, below are a few points to consider.
First and foremost, the content migration process will require strong leadership with editorial capacity to help keep this aspect of the project on track and on time. While your website vendor should offer some level of support, there will need to be a point person within your organization (preferably close to the project) who is well respected by your org personnel, who can pitch in where needed and who can push timeline deliverables. Whoever this person or small team is, they will likely have a role in copy editing content that is submitted before sharing with your vendor for additional edits and migration prep.
Audit Your Existing Content
If your organization has the capacity to audit the existing site content and identify content priorities, stale-dated and irrelevant content, you or your vendor will be able to utilize that audit and hit the ground running on content work/needs. This includes taking inventory of what content is on your site (including images, links, files, etc), who is responsible for it, determining when it was last updated and if it is still relevant.
Once an audit of content has been completed and priorities identified, content will likely need to be reorganized into your site’s new information architecture. Most clients we work with have their website content organized in a department-centric manner. While this approach to organization is helpful for internal control and updating of content, it tends to be lost on the end user, making information difficult to locate.
Content owners will need to align their content within the new Information Architecture, which should be identified in the early phases of the project. Through the process of developing the new Information Architecture, content owners will be able to analyze what content needs to be prioritized for the end user and how the updated organizational structure and housing of information can guide content updates and structure.
Throughout our work we have found that editorial workflows have grown organically over the years, either with many content contributors editing/updating webpage content freely without guidance or editorial oversight or web content updates falling on the shoulders of one person. If this sounds familiar or if there is not a workflow for website content already in place, now would be the time to start thinking about what that workflow structure would look like. No one workflow will be the same from one organization to the next but in our work with large government entities and non-profits, we often see a workflow similar to this:
Content Contributor (or Subject Matter Expert) > Reviewer > Editor
A content contributor/subject matter expert are usually the folks who have their ear to the ground in their program area; a Reviewer is often a department head or supervisor; an Editor may be one or two people who are tasked with quality assurance, ensuring that the content is consistent in style and voice so content is cohesive across the website, making for a better user experience. Ultimately, the Editor will be responsible for publishing the content to the website for the public view.
From determining your content needs through a content audit, to establishing the pecking order of your editorial workflow, you have set yourself up for the heavy lifting to come. For more on this topic, see Content Migration: The keystone to a successful web redesign PART 2.