The term content migration refers to the process of moving digital information from one system to another and usually means transferring website content from an old site to a new one. The process also becomes necessary if a company upgrades its hardware or changes its content management platform. This can be a complicated exercise that needs careful planning, especially if thousands of files, images and web pages need to be moved.
The main advantage of moving existing content to a new website is that you don’t have to spend a lot of time and money rewriting it all. It also provides an opportunity to analyze the existing site and decide if it needs to be kept. Over time some of the content becomes obsolete or redundant and there is no point in moving it to the new site if it’s out of date. It’s also worth analyzing the amount of traffic the pages have received in the past because there is little point in cluttering up the new site with pages that hardly anybody visits. Content migration furthermore allows you to ensure that the best performing pages are moved to the new site with all their existing links intact. Search engines will have already indexed them and it’s important to keep their ranking.
The main disadvantage of moving content is the time and money that needs to be spent doing it. Very large sites will need a team of people to carry out this work and it’s possible to outsource the project to firms that specialise in this type of work. It’s also possible that the existing pages may not be in a format that the new platform can accept and some rewriting will be needed anyway. Moreover, there is a risk that some of the content may be lost or corrupted during the move and that hyperlinks may be broken, so the new site will need to be thoroughly tested after the migration to make sure everything is working correctly. There might also be the problem that some parts of the site are unavailable while the move is carried out.
Having decided what needs to be transferred, the next decision will be how to do it and there are only really two ways. The first is to do it all manually by simply copying and pasting from the old site to the new one. This approach is fine if the site is fairly small, and it has the advantage that the person doing it is able to check that it looks OK on the new site. On the other hand, if the site is very large, an automated approach to the content migration may be a much more efficient way to do it. It may be the case that the platforms have tools available to export content into some transferable files that can be stored locally and then be imported into the new one. If there are no built-in utilities or suitable third-party software packages available, the next best thing is to use an application programming interface (API). This will require a web developer to write scripts pulling the content from the old site into locally stored files in a suitable format such as XML or commas-separated values and then pushing it into the new one. The time saved by doing this may justify the cost of the development effort involved, and the reward is that the new site will be built much faster.