How to Run a Squiz Matrix Content Migration
Whether you’re migrating content from one Matrix instance to another or switching CMS, there are a number of things you’re going to want to know when undertaking this process using Squiz Matrix.
In the article we’ll walk you through the how to run a successful Matrix content migration. From moving content from existing Matrix sites, to using the Squiz Matrix Bulk File Import Tool, to handling HTML content, we’ll show you the most effective means of migrating content to your new site.
Migrating content from one Squiz Matrix site to another
One of the most common Squiz Matrix content migrations involves moving content from one Matrix site on the same box to another Matrix site. Although in theory all this requires is moving, cloning, or new linking content from one location to another, there are some elements of this process you’re going to want to keep an eye on for quality control purposes. This includes:
- Site structure and information architecture: Often when migrating content to an existing site or to a new domain, the information architecture and overall logic of the content which is now in places does not make sense. Make sure when migrating to a new site that your content ‘makes sense to your audience’.
- Link locations: One of the challenges of migrating site content is ensuring that the links embedded in your pages are actually linking to relevant content at their new location and aren’t broken. We recommend using Matrix’s Link Report to identify any broken links, then reviewing each link individually within the context of your pages to ensure the link is adding value to the readability of your content.
- Web paths: In Squiz Matrix every asset includes a web path provided it sits underneath a site asset, and in many cases may have multiple URL’s. This may occur if you’re running an SSL site or applying multiple domains to the same site asset. With this in mind, be careful not to move content from one site to another with incorrect URL’s applied or without considering multiple URL sets. As a general rule it’s wise to check the URL’s and page names of each page after you move an asset to ensure a positive outcome.
- New Linking vs Cloning vs Moving: One of the easiest mistakes you can make when using Matrix (although it’s easy to reverse) is accidentally new linking content when you were intending on moving or cloning that content. The key here is to not rush what you’re doing. Although content migration work can be repetitive, slow and steady will win the race here.
Migrating files from an external CMS or custom website
Chances are if you’re reading this article you’re going to want to know how to import files which exist on external systems and import them into Squiz Matrix. This can be a particularly time consuming activity when working with a CMS if you don’t have a tool to handle multiple files simultaneously. The good news is that Squiz Matrix has a handy tool called the Bulk File Import Tool you can use to get the job done right.
The Bulk File Import Tool allows users of Squiz Matrix to import multiple files simultaneously into the asset map either from your local directory or server. This handy tool allows you to name, set type restrictions, and access levels on the files that you’re importing and is intelligent enough to check the extensions of those files and create assets in that vein.
Working with Rich-Text and HTML content
One of the unsung heroes of the Squiz Matrix CMS is the custom-built WYSIWYG editor. Squiz Labs have invested a great deal of time and money ensuring that their WYSIWYG editor is as simple to use as possible so you can work with HTML content just as easily as you can with Rich-Text.
When developing content for the web using Matrix there are a number of best-practice options for working with Rich-Text and HTML. These include:
- Creating new assets: Often a Squiz Matrix content migration will require you to create new assets and paste your content directly into the WYSIWYG editor. This simple process is generally undertaken when creating Standard Page assets.
- Adding to existing assets: If you’ve already got a Standard Page in place but would like to add new content, we recommend adding a new content container within your asset. This is a great way to separate content and if you're more of a ‘developer-type’ and is a great way to leave HTML comments in your pages to let future editors know who the content has come from.
- The Raw HTML container: Users who are more experienced developing HTML content will often choose to implement Raw HTML containers over WYSIWYG containers. This is a great option for technical content such as Asset Listings because it eliminates extra DIV tags and unnecessary HTML content behind the scenes. However, keep in mind that it can be difficult for non-technical content authors to work with this type of container in the future, so remember to evaluate who may be editing your content after you if considering this option.
- Code View Vs Design View: If you’re familiar with WYSIWYG editors you’ll know that there are two views you can use to edit your content. These are Code View and Design View. Code view as the name suggests is your written content laid out in HTML tags. Design view is really just like a Word Document and is a direct representation of how your content should look on your web pages. However, what happens if your Design view doesn’t look quite right? The answer is almost always going to be because of some extra HTML code that has crept its way into your content. If you’re not familiar with HTML, ask someone with experience to take a look and see if they can remove the extra content for you.
Testing a Squiz Matrix content migration.
One of the common mistakes we see clients make when running Squiz Matrix content migrations is that they don’t have a content migration strategy in place or any means of evaluating their new site structure post implementation.
Whether you’re moving a handful of pages of thousands, the easiest way to deliver a successful content migration is with a content migration strategy. When OSE work with clients to assist with content migration work we typically establish the following key elements prior to commencing any work as part of our strategy:
- Content mapping: The first thing you need to establish when undertaking a content migration is where you where you want your content and media to go. This means building a side-by-side content map to establish where everything’s going to live, what’s going to survive, what’s going to be deleted, and should include a breakdown of all relevant URL’s and subdomains.
- Establish a workflow for publishing: Organisations who successfully manage large content migrations are very particular about ensuring a workflow is in place for content approval. This usually means identifying key stakeholders and assigning criteria for approval/rejection of content. By implement a distributed publishing model and a content workflow you’ll eliminate accidentally publishing content that’s is either not ready to go live or was not required for publication on your new site.
- Set guidelines around content: The reality is that content authors aren’t developers and may not be able to recognise some of the more technical elements which can really hurt your content publication. This includes image sizing, file sizes, and where content such as video lives. These items all need parameters for publishing set in place. Without these parameters you can find yourself with slow-loading pages, bandwidth limits being broken, and huge increases in cost per month.
- SEO matters: I’ve seen sites lose as much as 40% of their overall traffic from search engines per month following a content migration because they didn’t pay attention to some basic rules around content structure, page load times, linking, title tagging, and meta descriptions. This sort of traffic drop can be incredibly damaging to your bottom-line, so when commencing a content migration process regardless of the platform, talk to an expert first.
- Evaluation criteria: It’s important to work with key business stakeholders to establish some measurable criteria for success a content migration process. Without evaluation criteria prior to commencement, your deadlines, overall cost, and evaluation of on-site behaviour will be at risk. Content migrations are often the last thing companies want to pay for when building new sites, but the reality is they’re one of the most expensive and important parts of a new site build and need to be moderated carefully. That being said, by establishing clear metrics for success, you’ll keep your contractors, staff, and internal expectations in check when running your next online migration.
Why content migration is a specialist skill set
If you haven’t been through a major content migration before, chances are you’re in for some surprises with regards to the complexity of the process and the time and detail to attention required to deliver a finished product.
For many organisations, management of their CMS is something they choose to completely outsource. We recently wrote an article titled "Why SMEs are outsourcing their CMS management" which discusses this topic in further detail including the many benefits of this approach.
From formatting your content correctly, to understanding where your content should live, to linking practices, to managing changes in website traffic and on-site metrics such as bounce-rates, there’s a lot you have to keep in mind when running a CMS migration...let alone the cost and effectiveness of your project.
However, with thorough planning and consultation with experts in the field you can migrate your content successfully to Squiz or any other CMS on-time and on-budget. You just have to be diligent and aware of the entire landscape prior to starting.
Good luck, and happy content migrating!