ClearPeople's considerations concerning Sitecore Content Migrations

Why move material across?

Yes getting all that work and precious IP across is a primary consideration in upgrading a website or moving to a new platform. It’s worth taking the time to consider the impact. It is good to reflect on the value of the content that is being considered and whilst it’s increasingly common to allow external site visitors to rate and comment on pages this is rarely carried out by content authors or reviewers in a CMS environment. Consequently powerful images and informative articles can get lost amongst outdated or largely irrelevant material. So before work can begin it’s a good idea to get a sense of the scale of the project. This can be best done by carrying out a content audit.

The audit

Establishing the sheer volume of content is a primary consideration. Typically reports can be extracted to help. The understanding how much of the content can be automatically migrated through scripts will give an indication as to the amount of man hours required. A proof of concept is worth running at some stage.

Steps in an audit

Typically this is carried out by a number of complimentary approaches such as reviewing the page usage stats (if they are available), issuing content authors with a questionnaire, and lastly by taking content offline (albeit temporarily) until requests or searches are made for articles that feature the requested content (content should therefore still be made available for indexing and retrieving by the search engine for this agreed phase). Agreeing the deadline for authors to recommend their content for migration is key. Time needs to be allowed for a ‘just remembered’ window whilst not impeding the need to begin the content mapping to the new site. Typically, on an intranet for example, people can become quite precious about their content or ‘mysite’ but the business overhead and their limited value means that these may be ideal candidates to be retired and supporting statistics and surveys will help the business case for doing so. Note: The content migration and specifically the audit phase allows a review not just of the quantity but (if the schedule permits it) a worthwhile review of the quality.

Retention Schedules

In the wonderful world of Sitecore it is very straightforward to set up retentions schedules that enforce an automated set of business rules. For example we like to assign retention policies to content by ‘type’ so that News Articles are reviewed after a designated period by the author. Since Sitecore supports multiple publishing versions, whereby content can be queued, this can help ensure that ‘smart’ information that has a value is retained on the live site whilst other content can be retired. Specific schedules can also be set up for certain content areas of the site, for example banners on the homepage may be changed or refreshed to keep the site lively. A retention schedule may also have a direct relationship with broader business policies regarding information retention such as records management policies.

Information Architecture

The ‘new’ content that has been agreed to be moved across needs to be assigned to both a content type, and templates or view, and subsequently a site publishing location. Automated scripts can help with a preliminary intelligent ‘dump’ but a separate exercise to ensure the content material resides in the correct architecture is vital. Systems such as Sitecore make this easier by separating the content from the final publishing location – effectively making the whole task easier to segment.

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