Creating a Content Inventory for Content Migration


When redesigning your website, content migration can overtake the majority of your timeline and budget if not planned properly. Because many see it as simple copy and pasting, content migration is an afterthought until they get into it and realize how huge of a task it really is. One way to avoid this is to properly plan your migration by starting with a content inventory.

A content inventory is usually a spreadsheet that lists all the content on your site, where it lives, who is responsible for it and more. As you can image, for a large site, this inventory can be extensive. While this is a tedious task, it’s an important one that will save you time down the line.

What goes in your content inventory?

While it’s obvious to say all the content on your site goes in your inventory, there’s more to it than that. Really go through your site and take note of all the content - pages, blog posts, product descriptions, press releases, etc. Once you have that, you’ll need to put it in your spreadsheet along with:

  • Where does the content current reside in your site? Is it in more than one location? Where is it linked from?

  • Is the content going to stay the same or will you need to rewrite it?

  • What template does this content currently use? In the redesign, will you be changing templates or keeping the same one?

  • Who owns this content - is it marketing, a subject matter expert, sales, etc.?

Content buckets

When creating your inventory, you’ll most likely come across plenty of content that doesn’t fit into the new design of your website because it’s now outdated, irrelevant, the quality isn’t high enough, the product/service is no longer available, etc. You should still put this content into your inventory, but you’ll need to add another column to your spreadsheet. This will be the ‘bucket’ column where you will put your content into different ‘buckets’ to keep everything organized during the actual migration. Buckets usually include:

  • Prune
    • This is the content that you won’t migrate to your new site because it no longer fits with your design or business goals

  • Rewrite/Create
    • This content needs to either be rewritten to match the new strategy/design of your website or it’s content that you don’t have that you’ll need to create for your new site.

  • Manual Migration
    • This is the content on your site that you’ll manually migrate to your new CMS. If you’re not automating any part of your migration, you’ll only have these first three buckets. However, note that manual migration can take 20 - 40 minutes per page based on several things like the granularity of the page, how many links or images are embedded in the page, how experienced your editors are with your new CMS, and more.

  • Automated Migration
    • If you are going to automate your migration, you’ll also have this bucket in your content inventory. This is something that developers (rather than editors) will do. While it can be done by creating custom scripts, using a tool like Siteport™ can help decrease the effort of automated migration. While you’re whole site can be done with automated migration, most content you’ll put in this bucket will be things like press releases, product information, blog posts, etc.

Your content inventory is a vital part of your content migration and website redesign project. Keep in mind that it’s a living document that can be edited and changed (perhaps something you thought you’d migrate manually can now be automated); however, you should have a pretty solid starting point before you start your migration. Make sure that you have several team members from various disciplines take ownership of your content inventory to keep proper checks and balances.

If you'd like help managing your content inventory or your migration, we'd love to hear from you.