A Vision for a Pain-Free Migration
Migrations don’t have to be a pain — Blend has a process and vision going forward of how to make the migration process simpler.
When considering a new web project, there are a lot of features that will compete for your limited time and budget. And while major business-impacting features — personalization, testing, analytics, search, and integration with other systems — might grab your attention, there’s one thing that can’t be overlooked: nearly every new website starts with an old website. If you’re not careful, moving content from your current site into your new one may wind up consuming more budget than you’d like.
Over time, working within a content management system (CMS), sites tend to build up a lot of content. That’s great — that’s what the CMS is for! But that content isn’t just words. It represents a lot of editorial work. It represents an investment of time and effort — an investment worth preserving as you move to a new system.
The challenge is that, for CMS vendors, there’s little financial incentive to make migration easy — in fact, many vendors see the ongoing investment of content into a system as a way to “lock in” a long-term customer.
So how can we make migration a little more pain-free?
Together we can do better.
At Blend, one of our core values is to advocate for our clients. And if there’s any place where being an advocate might rise to the forefront, it’s in making CMS migration simpler. We believe a simpler migration softens and streamlines one of the major hurdles for any new web project, and it means that customers spend less when switching to a system more attuned to their needs.
Our long-term goal is to create a process for moving the content from any site into one of our primary CMS platforms using automated methods — all with only a few days of effort and minimal code. Our vision is to build a community of integration partners that can collaborate on a set of tools and shared knowledge to help us reach our target together as an industry.
On August 24th, Blend hosted an open discussion — in partnership with Umbraco — on the topic of CMS migration. In our first discussion, we broke the migration process into several steps, discussing both the current state and how they could be improved.
The migration process.
The first step of any migration process is understanding how you’ll be mapping content from one system to another. This is also a good point to decide what stays or goes.
All migration processes can be broken down into three phases:
- Extract — How do we get content off of the old site? This is usually done by directly pulling sections of HTML.
- Transform — What changes are needed to accommodate content within the new system? This could be correcting links, building summaries, or any other kind of cleanup.
- Load — How do we put the content in the right spot in the new system?
Currently there’s no standard set of formats or tools for this (although the Java community made an attempt some years ago). The best methods allow for repeatable automated scripts that will allow the process to be adjusted and tweaked without creating lots of duplicate content.
Any content that goes through an automated migration process is likely to require review, and some features simply can’t migrate cleanly from one system to the other. It’s important to give editors the tools they will need to review and edit content, including tools that help keep a record of import warnings, provide editors with a work list, and quick way to compare the old site with the new one. We also talked about some automated ways to compare similar sites to look for visual changes.
Our plan is to continue to build momentum around a community effort to make migration simpler.
We feel that when we remove our clients’ barriers to choice, they’ll be more free to move to the best solution for their needs. That’s a win for them. Blend’s goal to be the best team in the industry means that we also strive to create the best solutions, so it’s a win for us as well.
And if this vision drives vendors to compete over how to make the best solutions even better, it’s a win for everyone.