Website migration – whether to a new version of your content management system or to an entirely new platform – is among the most stressful projects for an enterprise, one that will challenge the team on every assumption and analytics they have. Before starting down this path to a website migration, there are two key questions you will want to answer:
- Does automating the process save me time?
- Does automating the process save me money?
Below is our guide to go about answering these questions. Of course, every scenario is different and requires evaluation and analysis before the final decisions are made.
Determining an Approach
When determining the approach for migrating content, there are several factors that come into play when architecting out a solution to find out which one would be best.
How many pages are there? If your website is relatively simple, and there are a small number of pages (<500), it is likely going to be easier/faster/cheaper to copy/paste your content from one website to another. The number of pages will need to be determined by you, but we have found that migrating sites with more than 500 pages start to become more efficient with migrations scripts.
Importance of Site Crawls. Crawling the existing website is a critical step in determining the approach to take for a website migration. This will give you a quick summary of the volume of pages, images, and documents. Tools like Screaming Frog will allow you to export the list to a spreadsheet where you can create a more thorough inventory and conduct a ROT analysis (Redundant, Outdated, Trivial) on your content to determine how much of this content actually needs to be moved to the new platform.
Where do the current pages live? Is the content that you are migrating in a database somewhere or does it live in static HTML files on a server? Where the content lives is important because it limits the options available for importing and working with the content. It also determines the structure of the content.
Database Content. Content that is stored in a database is typically more structured and logically separated. This gives more flexibility when writing migration scripts because it is already in a consumable format. It is unlikely that this will be an “easy” 1:1 mapping from point A to point B, but the first step of getting the content into a consumable format is done.
Static HTML. Content that is in a static HTML format is going to be harder to work with. In these cases, you will likely need to use a web scraper tool to break apart your pages and get them into a consumable format for your migration to Drupal. You will be faced with numerous edge cases based on how each page is built. This process may require a lot of trial & error in order to get right.
How well are the static pages structured/formatted? In any website migration, consistency is key to making the process effective. You will want to determine if the pages follow consistent patterns so that you can create a repeatable process. If the pages have no uniform formatting or consistent markup, the task of creating a repeatable process of a migration script will be difficult and more time-consuming.
Does the content have references to media (images & files)? If your content contains references to media, this adds another step in the process. Your migration scripts will need to not only handle the migration of the assets but also alter the markup to replace the links/references to these assets.
What tools are available on the platform I am building the new website on? Most modern CMS platforms provide some level of migration support for getting content from point A to point B. A majority of the work that we do is in WordPress and Drupal, below is a quick list of migration options for each platform.
WordPress Migration Options
- WordPress All Import Tool
- WordPress Import Tool (Blogger, BlogRoll, LiveJournal, RSS, Tumblr, WordPress)
- FG Drupal to WordPress
- HTML Import 2
Drupal Migration Options
Other Useful (Platform Agnostic) Tools to help with content cleanup:
Determining the right solution
Now that you have all of the information you need, you can answer the two questions:
- Does automating the process save me time?
- Does automating the process save me money?
You are now equipped to make an informed decision on the approach you should be taking. You have a good grasp on what your source content looks like, how easy it is going to be to work with and what tools you have to give you a kickstart. Your next step is to crunch some numbers and get some high-level estimates on LoE for writing these migrations.
Trying to understand if website migration is the right approach for your organization? Bluetext can help.
Are you still on Drupal 6?
Whether you operate a blog, a small business page, or a large corporate website, if you are still operating on Drupal 6 it is past time for you to consider upgrading your operations. Drupal 6 officially reached End-of-Life on February 24th, 2016. Since then, the Drupal community has largely abandoned support for this version of Drupal.
Why does this impact me?
Anyone running their business on a Drupal 6 version should be concerned because the Drupal community has moved on. As an open source platform, the vitality of Drupal depends on contributors adding new components, modules, features and more. When the community moves on to new versions of Drupal, the older versions are no longer receiving the care and attention required to maintain modern content platforms.
By not adopting Drupal 8, you no longer have the community actively working on modules, bugfixes, improvements, and most importantly, security updates and improvements. The Security team is no longer providing Advisory updates for Drupal 6, and the majority of modules are no longer supported by the maintainers. The bottom line? If you are still operating on an old version of Drupal, you are exposing your site to unnecessary security risk.
Uh oh…so how do I make the switch to Drupal 8?
It’s easy! Upgrading your Drupal site using a migration approach. The first step is to decide how you want to handle your upgrade. Use these questions to help you get started:
- Am I happy with how my website functions and how it looks?
- Does my website/brand need a refresh or update?
- Do I want to refresh my content as part of this upgrade?
- What are the key functions that my website needs to perform?
Based on your answers to the questions above, you will likely fall into one of two categories: Lift & Shift or Website Rebuild.
Lift & Shift: As is migrations
Drupal 8 has made significant strides to make the upgrade process from Drupal 6 to Drupal 8 as smooth as possible. Mike Ryan and others have made a huge impact in this space, rewriting the migrate module from the ground up and including it in the Drupal 8 core. The fact that this was added as a Drupal core initiative speaks volumes of the importance that has been placed on this by the community.
If your site is mainly brochureware, the upgrade process from Drupal 6 to Drupal 8 should be quick and relatively painless. The new migrate module not only migrates content, but it will also migrate data structures through a configuration migration tool. Wait, what? I can migrate my content types and taxonomy terms so that I don’t need to rebuild them!? The answer is YES! (…with some caveats of course).
For more information about the Drupal 8 migrate initiatives and upgrade documentation, check out the “Upgrading from Drupal 6 or 7 to Drupal 8” section on Drupal.org.
Website Refresh: Rebuild Content, UI and UX
So, I don’t have a basic brochureware site but I really need to refresh my brand. Can I still use these tools to take some of the load off of my shoulders? The answer is yes, but in a more limited fashion.
Depending on the size of your website, utilizing the D6 to D8 migration tools may still save you time and money. This will ultimately depend on how significant the changes to your information architecture and content will be.
If you have a large number of pages (let’s say >1000) and some percentage of these pages will remain relatively in-tact from an information architecture perspective (Blogs, Resources, Press), then you will likely still benefit from investing time in migration scripts.
If you are planning to refresh/rewrite all of your content AND provide a new UI/UX on your website, the effort to create a migration script may be higher than handling the process manually.
So, how do I get started?
If you are planning to move forward with an upgrade, it will be useful to check out the following links before you start:
- Upgrading from Drupal 6 or 7 to Drupal 8
- Upgrade using Drush
- Known Issues when migrating from Drupal 6 or 7 to Drupal 8
While the idea of being able to be generic enough to meet a wide variety of peoples needs, it is unlikely that your migration to Drupal 8 will be handled out-of-the-box. In the likely case that you will need to customize, here are some more useful links:
- Migrate Process Overview (Processor Plugins)
- Webinar – Migrating to Drupal 8
- Carlyle Example Migrate Project
Would you like help creating a more detailed plan for migrating your website to Drupal 8? Contact Us – We would be happy to help!