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Strategy and Transformation

Content Migration: The Yellow Starburst of a Project

Abstract Technology Background. Circuit Board

It’s always exciting to open a pack of Starburst and see a few pinks and reds in a row. Pinks and reds are so renowned they can be purchased in stand-alone bags! But what about the yellows? There have been statistical studies done to prove yellow ranks last among the classic flavors, which may cause some to save them for last or discard them completely. Content migration is like a yellow Starburst. There is no visual interest like with design and not many ways to user test like with IA, but it’s a critical part of the project usually saved for the end. It’s something you can get started on, and chip away at slowly, but content migration somehow always seems to sneak up and a mad dash to the finish ensues.

How can we better prepare our team to avoid delays?

In my experience, the scramble typically happens because we underestimate how much time is needed for migration. It seems simple: for manual migration, just copy and paste, or for an automated migration, the magic behind the curtain moves content from one place to another.

But once we really dig in, it’s far more time-consuming and complex. Luckily, we can plan, mitigate, and avoid rushing to complete.

Step 1: Make a Plan

Rebuilding a site is a great opportunity to revamp your content; however, we should consider where that falls in the list of project priorities. Identifying the project key performance indicators (KPIs) upfront will help inform the content goals. In addition to priority, you should also consider the impact of spending time optimizing content. For instance, if the project includes a redesign or IA update, these could address the same KPIs as content improvements.

Step 2: Automated vs Manual Content Migration

There are several factors to consider for both automated and manual content migration. Regardless of which option, or combination of options, you choose, the timeline should allow for QA and edits.

Automated Content Migration

Automated migration is fantastic for certain types of existing content, such as:

  • Highly structured content, including metadata
  • Limited components/calls to action (CTAs)
  • Translated content
  • Similar design layouts

Manual Content Migration

Conversely, the following are examples of content better suited for manual migration:

  • Unique content layouts
  • Several CTAs
  • Major design deviation
  • Navigational elements, especially when you’re changing information architecture (IA)
  • Content rewrites

In most cases, a hybrid approach is recommended. Automate content that is more structured and manually migrate content that is more unique and likely to change.

Step 3: Prioritize and Categorize

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After reviewing the content goals and migration options, it’s time to inventory. First, identify and prioritize the key content areas. Reach back to your KPIs to consider:

  • Are there key conversions that you can improve?
  • Is there a mission/message to highlight?
  • Is there a landing page that could improve the user experience (UX)?

After you prioritize your content, you should categorize it. Example categories include:

  • Delete: Over the course of website’s lifetime, it accumulates a lot of content, but do you need it all?
  • Combine: If there are there multiple pages with the same message, you can likely streamline and combine these.
  • Write New: A brand new page to fulfil a specific need, such as the landing page to help guide users through a content section.
  • Optimize: Optimizing and refreshing your existing content can go a long way.
  • As-is: If the content is performing well, leave it as-is; or, if there is a section that has lower traffic, move it as-is and spruce it up over time.


Don’t forget to leave time to think through key CTAs across the site. A page that you are migrating as-is could benefit greatly simply by adding a CTA.

Step 4: Make a Plan

Wait, wasn’t this step 1? Yes! Plans are meant to evolve over the course of a project. Design, IA, build, etc. can all impact the original plan. As the project progresses, continue to anchor back to your KPIs and goals, and adjust the final content plan as needed.

Additional considerations include:

  • Do you need new imagery or does existing imagery need to be resized?
  • Are there content stakeholders outside the core project team who need to approve the priorities and categories?
  • Assign team members to migrate, QA, and approve

Step 5: Migrate Content

Before migration starts, you should have a solid understanding of:

  1. What content, if any, will be auto migrated and what content will be manually migrated
  2. Identify and assign content roles as needed, including migrators, writers, QA team, etc.
  3. Section the content migration into milestones. Migrate/QA/approve the highest-priority content first

Embrace the Yellow Starburst

The steps above outline key milestones in content migration and, of course, there are more nuanced steps within each. The key takeaway is to mix the yellows in with the reds and pinks. Considering and planning for migration along the way will help ease the content scramble at the end of a project.

We would love to discuss your content migration with you! Contact us with any questions you may have.






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Kasie Patel

Kasie Patel is a Sr. Project Manager leading dynamic Acquia Drupal projects. She has more than a decade of experience in digital project management, managing multi-faceted teams and projects.

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