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By now I'm guessing you've already made the decision as to whether or not you're going to be using a CMS. If you're going to use one to create a new site, you really only need to do the proper assessments and then start creating your content. However, if you plan on migrating an existing site to a CMS, well then you have an entirely new set of challenges on your hands. In this movie I want to discuss some of the challenges involved in migrating an existing site to a CMS and some of the things that you could do to make it easier. The first thing you need to realize about moving content from one site or system to another is that it's hard, perhaps one of the hardest web development projects you'll ever tackle.
It's easier for smaller sites than larger sites, and obviously the more complex your site, the more complex the migration. But even moving from one blogging platform to another can be an incredibly complex operation. Think about this for a moment. You're going from one site structure with the one set of rules to an entirely different site structure with another set of rules. Somehow you have to make all the content here move over here and work the way it's supposed to under the new structure and rules.
If you're working with a large organization with an existing CMS or complex web site, make sure you either have a dedicated IT staff that is technically savvy enough to manage the migration, or you'll need to hire outside help. This could mean contracting with a web development company that specializes in migration or the CMS vendor itself if you're hiring a firm to develop your CMS for you. If you do decide to go with an outside vendor, understand that no matter how experienced they are, there are going to be bumps in the road and the process will take a considerable amount of time.
If someone claims to offer you seamless integration with the new system, don't believe the marketing hype. So why is migrating content from your old site to a new CMS so difficult? Well, first you have to realize that content isn't just content. It's not like you're taking an item off one shelf and placing it on another. Web content by it's very nature is made up of many interconnected things. You may have internal links that point to other internal content. You're going to have navigation tied to content that no longer matches the new structure, and you may have content like blog post, comments, or customer feedback, that aren't structured correctly for the new system or don't even fit into it.
Plus, if you're moving to a new CMS, you're going to be doing a lot of what we've discussed previously in this title, things like creating meta tags and new taxonomies. These are entirely new vocabularies that need to be mapped to the old content. Older meta tags might cause problems when ingested into the new system. Don't forget that outside sites might link to specific articles or content as well. Those links will now be broken and need some means of redirecting them to the new location of the content.
With all this in mind, it's important to have the right expectations about what to expect when migrating content. Well, first, you should expect lose data. Now, obviously you want some control over this and some data is easier to deal with losing than others, but don't expect to emerge from a migration unscathed. Second, expect it to take more time than you think. Most tasks take twice as long as people estimate. If you build in patience for the process, you'll eliminate a lot of the stress usually associated with migrations.
Finally, expect there to be an awkward transition time as you go live to your new system. Understand that it's not going to go perfectly and you'll be cleaning up and remapping content, at least in the short term. Clearly understanding the challenges in migrating content will help you plan and execute the steps necessary to migrate your content successfully, and that is exactly what we'll talk about in our next movie.
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