The Web Project Guide Podcast: Episode 21: Migrate and Populate the Content (w/ Carrie Hane)

It’s The Web Project Guide Podcast, and we made you a new episode.

The metaphor will always be there. A website is a house. Strategic design is the house architecture. Development and implementation are a team of contractors building out the blueprints. And getting the content in? That’s moving day.

The metaphor would be tired, if it didn’t perfectly capture every thing that could go wrong. Too much outdated content on the site? That’s when you are trying to move all of your junk even if you don’t want it. Mismatched content model? That’s when you’ve got more — or fewer! — rooms than you had before. Blocks causing trouble? That’s like trying to package and move all the shelves, drawers, and other collections.

This month on the podcast, we beat the metaphor to death in a way that’s both cathartic and reassuring. Content migration is everyone’s bugaboo, but it’s also a chance for renewal. For every project that struggles through the migration process, another is freshened up and made clean. We talk to Carrie Hane, author of Designing Connected Content, about how to prepare for a content migration.

From our interview:


It’s like the first time you bought a house. You’ve been living in apartments as a 20-something. You buy a house, a lot of times you throw your crap away because it’s like terrible stuff that you had in your apartments and you buy new furniture for your house and then when you move house to house to house, you’re kind of moving these family heirlooms. I feel like that kind of corresponds to how migration goes now. Organizations are coming to us with a lot more content to move. Compared to the innocent days of yore, how have you seen it change?


Well, yeah, honestly it’s just more volume. I think organizations still often don’t know what to keep, what to get rid of. There’s a lot more hoarding happening than people realize until they go to move stuff and they’re like, “Oh my God, we have to move 100,000 pieces of content. Do we need to?” Maybe, maybe not. It’s really just scale. I don’t think it’s a whole lot different. For the people who in 2005 to 2010 and ’12 who had a website and were making a new one because they had learned something, if they were hoarding, it wasn’t a big deal because it was still tens or dozens of pages, not thousands or tens of thousands, but it wasn’t necessarily good.

That gets into an audit. How do you decide what to move is more in the content audit realm, but you also have to decide what transformation needs to happen. Can you just move it from here to here without really touching it? Do you need to do small little bits or do you need to completely rewrite, reformat everything? There’s some of that in every migration. It’s figuring out how much you need to do for each one based on budget, time, resources.

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