Content Migration Process

A successful Drupal to WordPress migration project starts with detailed planning
followed by an iterative migration process.

According to some services, CMS migrations are simple, quick and painless. Some migrations are easy and you don’t need me for these projects. But you’re probably here because you know—or at least a have a strong hunch—that there’s more to your project than just a few clicks.

A website with any real value will be challenging to migrate. Even experienced project managers will underestimate the task. Consequently, content migrations are one of the main reasons for budgetary and scheduling overruns on CMS projects. This is because the task is often considered as an inconvenient addition to the more exciting redesign or technical implementation.

I follow a tried-and-tested content migration process to ensure success for your site migration project.

Migration workflow. Image copyright Free Range Stock, artist: Jack Moreh

The Migration Team

Here is one area where I differentiate myself from many other services. I don’t expect you to hand over your client’s project and trust that you’ll end up with perfect work product. As your client’s chosen digital agency, you are a major stakeholder and therefore deserve to be involved throughout. In fact, your constant input is crucial to the project’s success. I become part of your cross-functional team as the domain expert for migrations.

Depending on the scale of the project, the migration team should also include the following people.

Agency side:

  • Project manager
  • Web producer
  • Content manager
  • Designers
  • Developers
  • UX/UI experts
  • SEO consultant

Client side:

  • CMS administrator
  • IT Operations
  • Customer service
  • Sales & Marketing

Project Discovery

We start each migration with project discovery phase. This is important. Project discovery includes understanding your goals for the migration, performing a content audit and surveying the Drupal installation. The process helps everyone in the team come up with a realistic expectation of budgets and timescales.

A content audit is essentially the process of understanding what kind of content we’re dealing with; how much content there is; and what we should do with it all. In other words, we inventory, analyse and finally, recommend actions on the content. The exact tasks and level of detail depends on your project goals. In all cases, we aim to get the best possible understanding of how much work will be needed to migrate the site.

The information gathered during the content audit drives the resources, budget, timings and ultimately, the migration plan.

Content Migration

We’re ready to perform the migration itself after developing the migration plan. I automate much of the content migration process through a set of custom-written scripts. Nevertheless, some areas are impractical to automate. A big part of the value I bring comes from advising you, based on experience from previous projects, which areas should be automated and which can be more quickly or cheaply done by hand.

Content migrations can be extremely complex. Therefore I take an iterative approach, first focusing on low-hanging fruit then moving on to the more complex areas. This allows project sponsors the reassurance of seeing rapid progress. It also prevents the technical team from getting bogged down in details.

Team members can inspect the results on a staging site after each iteration to give feedback about how to improve the results. After that, I refine the scripts and re-run the migration.

From experience, sites tend to require between five and twenty iterations of this process. We repeat the steps, refining the migration scripts each time, until everyone is happy with the results. Of course, it’s important to set this in context of what’s reasonable within the bounds of the project budget and timelines.

Design and Development

If you’re a digital agency, UX/UI, design, theming, plugin configuration and SEO related work can be handled by your in-house team. Most people hire me as a migration expertise so I normally focus on the content migration tasks. Nevertheless, I can put together my own team to fill in the gaps in other areas if needed.

Design work and all creative components can be done in parallel with the migration phase. However, it’s simpler to leave the theme development and plugin configuration until after content migration. Still, this isn’t always practical so it’s possible to run the design and development phase concurrently with the content migration phase.

Go-Live and Post-Migration Review

Going-live isn’t usually the end of a migration project. Some projects may need long-term curation and content pruning to support a new content strategy. Remember also to allocate time and budget for any post-migration SEO analysis. Further, it’s vital to gauge the project’s success by reviewing the results with stakeholders’ expectations.


Are you migrating a site and have more questions? Get in touch with your project details and let me know how I can help.

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