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Katherine Willingham - 02.19.2019

6 Key Steps to a Successful Website Migration

Our clients often ask, “How quickly can you migrate our website into a Content Management System (CMS), while updating and improving the content, user experience, and design?” As simple as that request sounds, a website migration from one CMS to another is often extremely labor intensive and time-consuming. Many steps go into a successful website overhaul and migration, and this article covers a few steps we consider essential for success.

Step One: Get Organized
The most important aspect of any digital project is to be highly organized from the start. As an Engagement Manager, I make sure every project begins on a solid foundation that ensures deadlines are met and budgets stay on track. One of the most critical steps is to set up recurring internal team and client status meetings to ensure our team is reaching milestones and are aligned on project action items. By establishing and adhering to timelines, checklists, JIRA tickets, daily standups, and weekly status meetings, we can shepherd a project past any unexpected issues and ensure the project is successful.

Step 2: Focus on Migrating the Most Important Content
A website migration is the perfect opportunity to evaluate your website and clean up any unnecessary or outdated content. During our initial website audits, our team spends a significant amount of time analyzing user flows, page traffic, site search data, click-through rates, average time spent on page, and other analytics to evaluate page relevance and user interest when determining which pages to keep versus delete. This cleanup should take place prior to content migration to reduce time, effort, resources, and ultimately costs, so the focus can be on placement of the most important content. To meet predetermined goals, we focus on prioritizing content that aligns with business needs.

Step Three: Track Everything
When starting a website migration, we typically run a web crawl of the site to obtain all URLs and content data from the current website. The results of the web crawl are maintained in a spreadsheet that we use to track content as it’s migrated to the new website, which details the purpose of each page, what the users’ goals are, and any data sources used on that page. This provides an ongoing reference for any pages we have moved, archived, modified or kept as-is in the event old or missing information is needed in the future. 

Step Four: Keep Your Client and Stakeholders Involved in the Process

World-class customer service and clear communication is the secret sauce for a successful migration project. Keeping stakeholders informed and actively involved during migration planning and execution is critical to the project's success. Our digital team's expertise, combined with key stakeholder knowledge of the subject matter, is the winning combination that keeps a migration on track. Regularly scheduled meetings between the Engagement Manager and client provide opportunities for stakeholder buy-ins and keep both teams aligned on milestones at every step of the process.

Step Five: Enlist an Unstoppable Team
A successful migration team is comprised of many specialized disciplines.

  • Engagement Managers are responsible for creating a solid foundation to keep the project on track and focus on delivery of a project, including deadline management, budget, and resource tracking.
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Strategists optimize the website’s architecture to drive traffic that leads to conversions. They also optimize the website’s content to maximize search engine results, increasing traffic and ROI.
  • Content Strategists conduct an exhaustive assessment and evaluation of the existing website content and then generate recommendations to ensure the content is strong and relevant.
  • Front-end Developers are responsible for the website's new look.
  • Back-end Developers maximize technologies to ensure a stable environment, reliable functionality and excellent site responsiveness.
  • Quality Assurance Specialists apply User Acceptance Testing (UAT) protocols to test the full functionality of the website in common iterations of browsers and devices by manually testing every page and component prior to release.
  • User Experience (UX) Designers create seamless experiences that allow customers to achieve their goals as quickly as possible, while also increasing customer retention and satisfaction.
  • Art Directors and Creative staff bring UX designs to life, ensuring they are as visually appealing as they are functional.

Step Six: Refine, Refine, Refine
We conduct multiple rounds of revisions and refinements to double and even triple-check all page links, content hierarchy, spelling, grammar, and images. Broken links cause 400-level errors that can harm your search engine rankings and cause poor user experiences. To alleviate this, we run a broken link checker and perform various rounds of testing to ensure all redirects are set up properly. Typically, we perform our own UAT, along with a two-week client UAT period. This ensures enough time for all necessary eyes to review and test the newly migrated website, as well as resolve any must-fix issues prior to website launch.

Sagepath has successfully completed a number of content migrations for leading companies across the country. If you're ready to take advantage of the latest features contemporary content managing systems offer, drop us a line and we'll put our proven process to work for you.