Everything You Need to Know About Web Migration

By David Cameron, July 13, 2018
Launching the new website design was only the first milestone in a series of significant updates that will continue through this summer and the upcoming academic year.

About six weeks ago, we launched the brand-new version of ithaca.edu, marking the first time in a decade that the college website has been thoroughly overhauled. Launching the new website design was only the first milestone in a series of significant updates that will continue through this summer and the upcoming academic year.

For the next phase, more of the campus community will need to be involved—ultimately, the approximately 150 people who already manage web content on ithaca.edu—to partner with our web team and move legacy content out of the old content management system (CMS) we call Web Profile Manager, and into Drupal, the system that drives our new site.

Why Content Migration Is Necessary

Approximately 90 percent of the more than 30,000 web pages on our website are still fed by our old Web Profile Manager system, and are being forced to fit our new design. For most existing content that wasn't a problem, but some legacy content that was created to fit the specific layout options of our old system may now appear less engaging than it did before. For example, pages that relied heavily on a sidebar in the old design now see that information appearing at the bottom of their page; others may have changes in how embedded content displays.

We anticipated most of these issues, and the best way to solve them will be to migrate that legacy content into the new Drupal system as soon as we can.

Finding the Best Migration Option for Your Content

There are four basic stages of content migration:

  1. EVALUATE - Content owners will work with our team to review the scope of their content, understand who it's for, who manages it, what special types of content may be included (e.g., documents, forms, multimedia, etc.), and what (if any) deadlines need to be met. We'll evaluate options that are available in Drupal to manage that content; determine whether additional features need to be developed; and consider what related content needs to align in order to meet audience needs.
  2. DECIDE - Once we understand the content and identify the people who need to be involved, we will decide whether to migrate current content “automatically”; rebuild it in Drupal from scratch; or utilize a combination of these options.
  3. PLAN - Once we agree on which migration process will work best, we’ll identify specific goals and estimate the time that will be required—including time to train content owners on how to use Drupal to manage their content.
  4. BUILD - With everyone trained and the content ready, the final step is to build and review the content in Drupal. How long that takes will vary. The primary goal is to ensure that everything meets expectations before it is published.

After those four stages are complete, all your content will live in Drupal and be edited and managed from there going forward.

How to Get Started

We are excited to begin working with enthusiastic content owners who want to get started in Drupal and deliver a better web experience for their audience. Right now our web team is working hard to ensure we can help make that happen effectively, while also ensuring we don't break or disrupt the overall user experience of our website along the way. That means balancing the timing of content migration with our ongoing work of building new features within the CMS to accomodate the content we want to move.

Our current focus is on building specific kinds of web content that we don't yet have an improved model for or cannot easily migrate because of their complexity (for example, directories and faculty lists, content collections, and academic program descriptions). In the meantime, we look forward to collaborating with more content owners in the evaluation stage as we begin to prioritize a master schedule for migration.