Preparing for Website Migration: A Guide to Web Content Organization for Higher Ed (Part 1)

iFactory
Preparing your content—your thousands (and thousands?) of pages of content—for a website migration is not a minor undertaking. There are many steps involved along the way.

Understanding what you have and trimming what you want to migrate. Organizing what’s left. Identifying new content you’ll need to create. Writing the content using your new designs, and working with subject matter experts to get sign-off. And finally—putting it into a content management system.

But before you can do any of that, you will need a solid understanding of your content as it currently exists. This is where creating a content inventory comes into play—something that we at iFactory are experts at, and can help you do, too.

Content organization for higher education websites is particularly challenging due to the profound depth of college websites. There are also several audiences you’re trying to reach: prospective students, current students, alumni, parents, school counselors—the list goes on. But that doesn’t mean it has to be difficult.

We’ll break down this process, which will set the foundation for your content strategy.

What is Web Content Organization?

For every minute spent in organizing, an hour is earned.

Web content refers to any information, media, or material that is published and made accessible on your website. It includes text, videos, photos, PDFs—everything.

Content organization is the process of figuring out what content you have and what content you need for your new website. Benjamin Franklin’s wisdom rings true here—if you put in some hard work organizing now, it’ll pay off down the road.

Think about moving your house: before you move, you have to shuffle through everything that you actually have to determine what’s worth bringing over. And just as importantly (remember how big your site can be), you have to decide what content not to move over.

Determining how the content of a website is organized is important because you’ll use this information down the road when you’re ready to create your new site map, and eventually get into the migration of your website.

There are two ways you can go about organizing and understanding the content you currently have. First, you will need to know on a page-by-page level everything that is currently there. Second, you’ll also need to know what’s on those pages.

Think about it as reviewing your content from both a quantitative and qualitative perspective. Here, we’ll focus on the quantitative review—your content inventory.

Creating a Content Inventory

Before you can do anything, you need to know what you have. And there might be a lot that you don’t even know that you have! A subdomain with physics syllabi from the early 2000s. News posts from over a decade ago. Broken links. The list goes on.

Having a robust content inventory serves as a strong foundation for the rest of your content process. Before you can get where you want to go… you will need to understand where you are. And an inventory will get everything you have in one place. From there, you can start organizing.

Tools like Semrush or Screaming Frog are perfect to get the ball rolling on organizing content for higher ed sites. These crawling tools pull out everything on your website quicker than any human could, and can also run in the background while you do other work. When they’re done, they provide you with a list of every URL on your website—including media, PDFs, redirects. Everything.

This list is your starting point. Now, you’ll have to get to work. Using the inventory, you can decide what content you definitely want to keep, what you make decisions on later, and what you definitely cut. The more you can cut, the easier your content migration will be down the road.

After your site map is complete, you can look at the inventory, see how the pages you want to keep align with it, and have a clear picture of where content gaps might be. 

iFactory: Your Partner in Higher Ed Web Content Organization

Organization is just the first step in preparing your content for migration. At iFactory, we can help you create an inventory that will show you all of your website pages in a format that’s understandable.

Once your inventory is created, it’s up to you to decide what content makes the cut to your website, and what content is no longer needed. The more you trim and combine pages, the easier your migration will be later on.

After you finish your inventory, it’s time to move onto the content audit, where you’ll get a better idea of the quality of your content. Whether you need a hand along the way or someone to take the wheel, the seasoned professionals at iFactory can help. Don’t hesitate to contact us.

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