With modern software, it's easier than ever to build a website, load it with content, and maintain it. Software packages are more secure, much faster, and more user-friendly than they were just a decade ago!
However, one major drawback is that over time, the structure of the website and the sheer amount of data & content has led to an overloaded and messy site structure. Besides, older systems tend to fall behind, thereby failing to meet the demands placed on it by new features and modern technology.
Drupal is the premier CMS package for enterprises, with more installations than nearly any other package. NASA, FedEx, and countless other enterprises and governments rely on its security, ease for front-end & back-end users, and the vast support system developed over the years.
Considering the benefits that Drupal offers, you decided to migrate your content on Drupal CMS. But the question is, how would you prepare your business to perform that migration?
Planning Your Migration
There can be severe consequences if content and data doesn’t migrate between systems successfully.
- Target systems break, rendering the website in-operational
- Data isn't fully accessible or returns results improperly
- You have to bear additional costs to rectify problems
- Lost business from resources spent on the system instead of commerce
Careful planning and attention-to-detail will prevent these problems, making your migration to Drupal easier. You want to move content (pictures, charts, articles, blog) and data (website accounts, users, product information, inventory) into a new system.
The objective is to improve the quality of the content and data while running your business without interruption.
Your plan needs to assign top priority to these goals-
- Maintain business continuity
- Improve information quality
- Minimize unnecessary costs
- Your Continuity Map
Check with other businesses in your market sector to see what tools or consultants they have used to migrate to Drupal. Research other Drupal websites for layout ideas and designs, themes, or functionality. Contact these companies for information on how to implement these ideas on your own site.
Ask how they maintained the continuity of operations while performing the migration.
- Did they dedicate a project manager or assign it to their IT department?
- Did they hire an outside company or a new hosting provider that did the work?
- Did they incur costs they feel that could have avoided?
- Looking back, is there anything they would have done differently?
You need to be clear why you're doing this and where you want to go. Your plan should lay out performance, functionality, and appearance goals.
Map your existing business operations into those goals. Determine project management duties, put protocols into place to avoid disruption of day-to-day operations, and provide for accountability.
- Consider Your Content
Firstly, you need to evaluate the content that's on your website. Are there any functions or design elements that you can simplify or eliminate?
Maybe you can start with a simple design and add to it once you have a basic platform. There might be features or pages on the website that visitors never use.
On the back end, are there any complicated or ineffective processes that company staff often complains about? The simpler your requirements, the simpler the migration. In this stage, you're looking at two classes of information.
- Identifying content and data which are not needed anymore and anything that might be duplicated. This lets you slim down the sheer amount of information that needs to be handled
- Looking for information, data, and content that can be reorganized to function better or to return more relevant results. You can redesign the way your site looks, cross-reference data that couldn't be linked before, get rid of features that nobody uses, and add new functionality provided by Drupal.
- Project Management and Quality Assurance
The most expensive single proposition is managing the actual transfer from the old site to the new one. To minimize chances of data loss or disruption, you should store a complete operating copy of your existing website and associated data in the cloud
Before the actual transfer begins, it's crucial to ensure that the new network and server hardware have been serviced and upgraded. The operating system has to be installed, maintained, and fully updated.
Any server software, network layers, and auxiliary office software troubleshooting should already be done before the transfer begins. This lets you take information in separate sets, clean it and slim it down, removing any duplicate content. The restructuring project will never have a chance to disturb current operations.
Handle the overall process as smaller projects within the main project. Choose your smaller data sets first, allowing everyone to get used to working together and with the system.
Review each stage of migration as accomplished. Evaluate the good and bad things about the process, improve them, and move on to the next larger set of data.
The final stage of migration and quality assurance is performance testing. Your team needs to check the new website for grammatical errors, full functionality, and response time.
You have to access every area of the site, every menu item, test every process from uploading and updating information to ordering, and account creation.
While it may be too big of a task to check every detail for accuracy, you need to make sure a large enough portion of the site and a large number of pages and accounts are sampled randomly to ensure that everything seems to be right.
Rise to the Challenge
In the end, a successful migration to Drupal is a straightforward task. Assign clear goals and require accountability for reaching each goal step-by-step. Ensure your new system is ready for its new data load. Test and evaluate every step as you go.
Before you know it, your business and customers will be reaping the many benefits of an expandable, secure, modular CMS offering advanced functionality. You'll have mastered the challenge of migrating to Drupal.
**This post is written by our guest author Heather Redding. She's a freelance content writer.
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