Hereby the second part of the story. And again, for those who didn’t read the first part, you may check it out here.
For those who already read it, let’s proceed!
CMS configurations to make it author friendly as possible for the new home of content
Most content management systems provide options to customize your environment according to editor’s needs. These configurations can be well organized, explanatory tooltips, guides on restrictions or options, shortcuts, access to “CMS instructions for use”, additional information on key contacts in case of issues, the author-mode aspects, in-advance implementation of special requests for example implementation of more color options for text-color, implementation of new components like video-player, asking questions like “What if this page belongs to China? This only supports Youtube, but what about Youku player?” etc. At this step, it is very crucial to work with experienced content editors to provide feedback and ideas for improvements. So at this step, developers and content editors should work in a coordination. CMS configurations basically everything which makes an editor’s life easier, and the easier it gets, the happier business will be. I can summarize this step in 1 sentence:
If an editor opens up a CMS for the first time and still can do the majority of edits requested by business managers and use the majority of features without spending too much time, then that CMS can be considered as having a well organized configuration.
Finalize website sections, page hierarchy, metadata before you migrate content. While the development going full-speed, content structure should be shaped up in coordination with business. Again, this step requires copywriters, content owners, digital managers and content editors. This step needs serious time and it should not be squeezed into the last stage prior to launch. Future thinking and ability to estimate multiple steps forward would make this part easier. Business should be made well understood of the new environment so that they can provide the best fitting structure and content. This is especially important if the new website sections, menu structure etc. is changing drastically compared to the old one. This step should never be done at the same time of development, instead, the development should be shaped according to this step. Also, it will give strict boundaries whether which content/pages will be copied and which ones should be eliminated and processed as new pages with new content in the new website. For example, you have 3 basic templates developed for the new website: 1 – Group page 2 – Category Page 3 – Product Page. However business suddenly claims that #1 is not needed. So they kindly ask if that can be removed from page-hierarchy and breadcrumbs. However IT team replies that this is the new structure, so it is not possible removing that structure in a short notice, and they claim that change would have very big impact on the environment. There you go, business forcing itself to shape up to the new structure, where they just hear it, and they don’t have enough time to produce a new formation and content.
Finalize content for those will not be copied, instead will be generated by brand new copy
After gathering a list of “content which will not copied” to the new house, the new content should be shaped up according to new templates, restrictions or features. Again, this step needs hardwork of business and copywriters, and also for editors to make it on time for the launch.
Tasks of adjustments by doing some future thinking
I would say “future thinking” is a blessing if you have, especially you are dealing with websites. If you can provide potential issues, needs, and lots of “what if in the future….?”, then you probably would avoid a lot of trouble for everyone. For example, no matter what your job is within the migration process, if you can ask what will be the case when a Russian or Chinese texts added to a “link label field” which has a character limitation of 20, then you would save yourself a future “author environment template change” and a lot of money. Character limitation of 20 can be enough for most English link-labels, however if you think the future “localization” of the pages, it should be also tested for other languages. Not just character limitations, also the “size” of each character differs in various languages. The text should not weirdly have a line-break or so. These are very small subjects, but if you tackle them on time in advance, then troubles avoided for the future.
Steps to be taken to decommission your old website
“Decommissioning” phase of a migration process is perhaps the most complicated one. A lot of planning should be put, a lot of detailed work should be done. The key indicators to a successful decommissioning are simple:
1 – Have no downtime on the launch day of the new site, and taking offline the old one. Or at least have it for a really short time. Usual way to accomplish this is to launch the website with inactive SEO, and password protection or with accessible with a VPN only. This will give you a chance to do the final touches, checks, fixes and make sure you are ready for “public launch”. That’s why big migrations has several “launches” i.e. internal and public.
2 – Update all communication URLs, existing redirections, and new redirections for those having bookmarks or links to your old website, so that seamlessly, visitors will see your new website. Indicator for this step is: visitor smoothly arrives to your new website as usual, without having no additional clicks or hunt for your new website.
3 – Remove access to your old CMS so that no one accidentally does anything wrong.
4 – Keep your old website’s review server, so that editors or business can reach it if ever they need to check out what was there.
5 – Make sure the pages are all offline, and all URLs are indeed redirected.
And the last step:
NEVER EVER FORGET TO POP THE CHAMPAGNE !!!