Migrating a website over to a new content management system (CMS) can sound daunting, especially when you have a large website or a significant amount of content on your website.
While our team at LaunchPad Lab still believes that traditional content management systems like WordPress have their place in our tech stack, we recently helped two clients migrate their websites to Contentful, a composable content platform.
A composable content platform allows content to be orchestrated from multiple sources and published across different digital channels, utilizing an API-first architecture — empowering marketing teams to create and manage their content easily.
Who Should Consider a Website Migration?
There are several reasons why a business might want to migrate its website to a new CMS, such as:
- To improve a poorly performing website.
- To have better control over their SEO performance.
- To use a CMS that is more accessible to their team, empowering people to make content changes quickly and easily.
At LaunchPad Lab, we’ve done countless website migrations over the last ten years, but today we’ll refer to two specific use cases—Client A and Client B.
Client A is a financial services organization offering tax and accounting solutions for cryptocurrency and digital asset companies. We supported them with migrating their Netlify CMS to Contentful and refreshing their website to utilize the new content authoring experience in Contentful. This was done with the goal of increasing the quantity and visibility of industry-specific content, as their original CMS was difficult to work with.
The second client, Client B, is a consulting organization that helps organizations set up their benefits and retirement plans. Client B was migrating from WordPress over to Contentful and Gatsby, drawing many similarities from our work with Client A. Contentful was chosen as their CMS due to the large amount of content that they wanted to distribute on multiple sites.
Leveraging Gatsby for a Smoother Migration
For both Client A and Client B, the use of Gatsby as a front-end framework made the migration process very smooth, largely because of its rich out-of-the-box integration with Contentful via the gatsby-source-contentful plugin.
Our Approach to Successful Website Migrations
1. Identifying What Content and Data Should Be Migrated
One of the first steps to a successful website migration is to identify which information you want to port over from the old website to your new one. While this may sound like a given, many clients begin with the assumption that they will want to migrate all of their blog posts or articles, only to realize that there are older items that are irrelevant and should not be migrated.
In general, this is a great time to ensure we are only bringing over clean data to the new CMS. We can cherry-pick the most important data for your business and remove any irrelevant, outdated, or messy content to ensure the best quality content for your brand. Aligning on the specific amount and structure of the content that needs to be migrated is vital, as both of these factors will influence the plan you’ll need to purchase from Contentful.
2. Collaborating on Proper Content Modeling
Once we know what content should be extracted from the new website, your product manager and development team collaborate with you to better understand what you want your new website to be. This conversation will help to inform the content modeling of your new website. Within your content model, you will have different content types, which can be thought of as interfaces for your content and are composed of different fields and relationships.
3. Starting the Website Migration Process
From there, we start the website migration work. For the Netlify CMS migration, the data was already saved as markdown files. Our team converted these files into rich text and uploaded them through Contentful’s API.
When migrating a website from WordPress to Contentful, we follow a similar process with one extra step. Our team of developers utilizes the WordPress API to extract the files from the website, which are delivered as a JSON payload. Some of the fields (e.g., the content of a blog post) are formatted as an HTML string.
In these instances, the HTML is converted into markdown, and from there, converted into the expected format that Contentful requires for a rich text field. After this process is completed, our script uploads the content and assets through Contentful’s API. Below is a simplified version of the script that was written, with some helper functions and error handling omitted for brevity.
Delivering More Than Just a Website
Simplifying Content Models to Empower Marketing Teams
Contentful is often a solution we recommend to our clients who desire more flexibility or easier content management capabilities. However, this flexibility can also drive complexity when setting up content models and the initial version of your website.
As a development team, we strive to keep the model as simple as possible, and perhaps most importantly, make sure that content is as easy to create and update. We empower marketing teams and content authors to create content and feel confident in how it will display on their website once it is published.
Offering a Consultative Partnership
Another benefit of working with LaunchPad Lab is that we don’t just build. At our core, we are your partner. And while we love to build, we also love to help our clients grow. During our working relationship, our team will get to know your business, your growth goals, and where you’re looking to take your business. Knowing your business and your growth goals makes it possible for us to identify areas of opportunity on how to make your CMS work best for your business’s specific needs.
One relevant example of this is a feature we were able to implement for Client A. As a financial services company within the crypto industry, they must comply with both federal and state tax codes. In addition to being subject to several different regulations, it’s critical that the information they’re publishing is accurate due to the increased likelihood of scams/fraud that the crypto industry faces.
By knowing their company, team, and challenges, we were able to help them implement the idea of adding a “verifier” to their blogs. Previously, they were limited to having only one field that referenced an author’s name. With the flexibility of Contentful, we were able to use the same content model for the author field of the blog post and created a second, optional field that serves as a third-party verifier that can be included on their blogs to increase trust and accuracy in the content that’s being shared.
We were also able to set up the functionality to support multiple authors, which allows the client to list multiple people who contributed to a piece of content—solving a major pain point from their previous CMS.
Ensuring Quality With Attention to Detail
We also spend the time to parse through and troubleshoot your website pages during the migration process, before content is published on your new website. As the saying goes: garbage in, garbage out. If a digital product agency, developer, or freelancer doesn’t spend the time inspecting your existing data and testing the output of the migration, you may end up with a poorly performing website, broken images, or wonky-looking pages.
While working with Client B, we found quite a few broken image references in the files we extracted. Once discovered, their team was able to immediately jump into action to correct the images on their live site. At the same time, we ensured that our files were able to reference the new, correct images when migrating them over to Contentful.
Wrapping It All Up
It can be difficult to keep up with the latest technologies and processes, but that’s where LaunchPad Lab comes in. We take a consultative partnership approach to website migrations, identifying ways to leverage your new content platform to scale your business.
Whether you’re looking to migrate your website to boost SEO performance, have better control over your content, or simply feel more confident managing your website, we can help. Contact us today to learn how we can help you migrate your website to Contentful!