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6 Steps to a Successful Content Migration

Posted on June 04, 2024

Content Migration Strategy Revealed

A successful content migration strategy is the key for a website project to shine from day one. Often underestimated, this task varies with each project's unique requirements. For a CMS update, existing content might just need remapping. However, if there's a new design and information architecture, the content must be reorganized and restructured. This process involves several key steps and collaborative efforts to transfer content from the old site to the new build. Fortunately, we have developed a six-step content migration strategy to help you understand and plan for this process effectively. 

Step #1 Content Audit 

The content audit is the first step in the content migration process because without it we do not know the state of the content or the work that needs to be done. In this step we determine the content that is going to be migrated by running a page report or receiving a page report outlining: 

  • Pages 
  • Documents 
  • Images 
  • Content Types 
  • Content to be developed 
  • Content to be consolidated 
  • Content to be removed 

Step #2 Information Architecture 

Information Architecture is a term used to describe the organization of content in terms of hierarchy and relation to the navigation system and menu. The content audit informs the information architecture of the new site. The information architecture will also inform the mapping of the content from one system to another.  

  • Site map is designed to support the content and goals of the project (user experience, organizational) 

  • Taxonomy of content designed. This includes all content on the site and the organization of non-menu items, file management, filters for searches and dynamically driven feeds. Taxonomies are further refined throughout the design phase. 

Step #3 Content Inventory 

The content inventory is a master sheet of content that outlines the location of all content and is ordered with an Information Architecture number (based on the sitemap and taxonomy of content)  

  • The content inventory includes all information needed to recreate pages, migrate pages, and details of the taxonomy (for example: filters, categories, tags, metadata, etc.) 

  • This will be a live document accessible throughout the project and used to organize the content migration and used for content validation. 

Step #4 Migration 

The migration of content can range from simple to complex depending on the decisions made in the previous three steps. In some cases we will be dynamically exporting / importing, in others we will be manually creating and in other cases it is a combination of both these methods. In any case, when developing a site we plan for this and we build the pages to be dynamically populated to map to the new site seemlesslessly and we allow access to content editors early in the process to work on pages that need extra attention early so we give enough time to make sure everything looks perfect on the day of the launch. 

  • Access to file system and DB will be needed to copy to new site 
  • Scripts will be written to import exported content types. 
  • Data transformations will allow for mapping of structured content to new site 
  • Scripts will be executed, and content will appear in the CMS 
  • Content will be further refined by content editors 


Step #5 Content Freeze 

  • Depending on the feasibility we may need to organize a content freeze as we approach launch. This freeze will let us make the development / UAT environment up to date with content before launch. 

  • In some situations, a content tracking document is used, and web pages are updated as they are created on the new site. The process depends on the organizational requirements for content and will be determined based on your best interests 

Step #6 Content Validation 

  • Content will be validated by Inorbital content editors by referencing the Content Inventory Document to make sure all content has been successfully migrated and is displayed as intended by the design. 


As you can see, the content migration strategy is important and touches on a lot of different aspects of a new design and build. We have developed this strategy through years of experience working with clients and have found that these six steps give us the structure the team needs to develop an effective strategy for any project. We hope you found this article helpful and gained some insights into this often-overlooked part of the project. 

Blog post author Alex


Senior Project Manager

Alex has over 10 years of experience managing digital projects with a background in Psychology and Web Design.

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