Over the past decade, we’ve published a lot of content at Idealware—more than 2,000 articles, reports, blog posts, and other resources—so when we decided to redesign our website, we knew that content migration would be a huge part of the effort. But we weren’t prepared for how much work it would take, and as our web design team moved steadily closer to launch our migration initiative fell behind.
So we locked everyone on staff in a room together for a day to power through a big chunk of it. There were moments when the pride of seeing how much content we’d created was overshadowed by the daunting nature of moving everything to the new site. To get through it, we goofed around some. We ate a box of questionably fresh donuts left behind by previous occupants of the meeting room. And we accomplished a tremendous amount of work.
At the end of that grueling day I asked the team what lessons they learned from our experience. Here were some of their responses:
- “Allow yourself a lot more time than you think you will need, because you’ll discover things you didn’t plan for.” For example, resizing and recapturing images for many of our blog posts to be compatible with the new responsive design.
- “Think twice before assigning tasks to volunteers.” We recruited three volunteers to help out by tagging posts, and though we’re grateful for their willingness to help, in the end we discovered that staff with in-depth knowledge of the subject matter and context were much more accurate and efficient at this task. If we could do this over we might still use volunteers but would have invested more into training them and making it a great experience for them.
- “Make it possible for this to take priority.” Idealware isn’t immune to competing priorities. The team members assigned to manage the website redesign also had lots of other job responsibilities and deadlines to manage. We tried to clearly define roles and set milestones at the beginning of the project, and in retrospect we could have been stronger on this—especially with monitoring, checking in, and clarifying project management responsibilities between us and the web agency.
- “Be okay with letting go of old content, and get rid of things you don’t need.” Going through our archives gave me a renewed appreciation for Idealware’s body of work, but it also forced us to draw a line in the sand and decide what we are not migrating. We launched the new site with only around 15 percent of the previous content. Most items more than three years old didn’t make the cut. Many of the less meaty and less trafficked blog posts got pink slips too. Making those decisions wasn’t easy, but what we’re left with is a more navigable library where every single item is of high value.
We put a lot of work into our research, but part of what makes it so valuable is the fact that we’re a nonprofit, too, subject to similar issues and limitations as the organizations who rely on us. Sometimes it’s good to be reminded of that—even when it happens the hard way.
Our new website goes live today.
P.S.: Interested in our website resources?
Consumers Guide to Content Management Systems (Being updated for 2017)