Content Migration – The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Anne Edmondsoncowboy1

Regis University had a five to seven year old website that was dated, navigation was confusing, and had an unmanageable amount of duplicated and outdated content. They had over 150 editors with no marketing goals or content strategy which led to no consistent voice or branding. The website was not treated as an asset.

In response, the Regis team took two years in planning their new site. Their focus was on new and improved architecture, a new CMS platform, and creating a consistent design with clear marketing and content strategy. They emphasized accountability and made the website a university asset by giving marketing team ownership of the front-end and IT ownership of the backend. They also implemented a new governance policy and the team no longer “policed”, they became stewards.

This migration project utilized three committees of people giving input and making decisions. The groups include:

  • Web Executive Committee: Admission, marketing, communications. They wrote the RFP, researched CMS and made selection, and approved architecture and design.

  • Web Advisory Committee: About 40-50 mid-level managers, faculty, and a student. This committee didn’t serve a huge purpose other than an obligation to say you were on this committee. They were given presentations on what the process followed by a Q&A session. They had some input on creative.

  • Web Marketing Committee: Newly formed team of four people. This team was accountable for the website, its performance, and its alignment with the brand. They built the website in CMS and migrated content, evolved strategy for content, design and functionality. They partnered with IT for backend accountability. The committee also reviews web analytics and issues reports for colleges and admission office. Finally, the group administers web governance and training to those with access.

The committee started the migration with content owner meetings to determine what content needed updating, forms needed, audit what pages could be removed or created. They also used the opportunity to educate content owners on strategy and becoming one university, one voice.

The committee began the task of assembling the puzzle pieces of the website. They conducted a content inventory, mapped the first 1000 pages, developed an image and PDF library in CMS so they could provide branded images. They integrated third party software/widgets, redeveloped custom applications. Their third party vendor built in the templates and architecture. The committee decided to host the website in-house so they needed to setup servers and software.

Mistakes that Matter
Be aware of third-party relationships. Regis’ CMS, Sitecore, was chosen because their third-party vendor really pushed it. It turns out they had a business referral partnership with them. Internally, IT wanted to use something else, and ultimately they discovered the CMS was hard to learn.

Its also important to insist on detailed costs, timelines, and deliverables from vendors. Regis University went way over budget because the experienced a lot of vagueness from vendors, for example “We’d love to build this for you”, and “it’ll be in this range of cost” The vendor built a very basic news application for them, but it had none of the features they wanted, so it added to their costs to make it what they wanted.

Something else Regis felt they could be better at was educating the leadership of the university on the process, important milestones, and time/resource requirements. There was a disconnect between what the leadership expected and what the team thought they wanted. Additionally, having buy-in and support from university leadership is also very important when someone is frustrated their project isn’t getting attention. You can explain the rollout is the main priority, and if they have questions, contact the provost.

Do not be the scapegoat for something going bad – Insist on client review and sign-off on content. Document all client communications and make sure they approve the content. You can be the manager of content, but not the owner.

Successes Earned
Regis met with content owners and IT early on and became BFFs. They understand your workload and the importance of the project. IT relationships can be frustrating, but its important to have them as an ally. Emphasise partnerships and common goals. Establish a “one team, same team” mentality.

There is no finish line when it comes to web development. Regis moved to a “version control” model so small victories and achievements could be made. Its never the end of a project so its important to make sure your team actually cares about the project. Overtime and workplace stress may lead to burnout so take breaks and find ways to bring everyone together for some fun time at the office.

In closing, prioritize content migration, communicate proactively, focus on the positive, and keep your sense of humor.

Photo Credit: happykiddo [dead] via Compfight cc