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Site Migration issues for high-end product companies

Wayne McMaster

22 March 2017

Given the choice most marketing managers of high-end interior companies want the problem of content migration to disappear, or more precisely to be managed by the incoming agency. 

Difficult incumbants

More often than not, due to the incumbent agency not taking the new iteration of website forward, there can sometimes some animosity or 'feet dragging' on their part to see a smooth transition from ’their’ existing site, to the new proposed site being birthed by the incoming agency.

Product movement

Usually the ‘problem’ we are describing relates to ‘products’ or SKUs. If the current site has fallen out of favour for you, its likely that, due to the outdated technology, or lack of internal skills, the current products displayed online are not accurate, there is little point in trying to salvage this out-of-date content and see in moved into the new site. Your agency is not best placed to know if current prices, or specifications are accurate or up-to-date. Ultimately this returns the ‘problem back to you.

There is some hope if the data is accurate and if the incumbent agency is prepared to extract product data, to allow for some form of reconfiguration to stitch this existing content  into the new site database. The reality though is usually a long way of this mark. Each CMS site is likely to start out with a slightly different database structure, leading to trying to fit a round peg in square hole where data migration is concerned. Your best scenario may be the renaming and re-ording of the product data via an excel spreadsheet.

The opportunity

In truth, you should see this as an opportunity to improve what you have, bite the bullet and knuckle down to providing your new web agency with content that matches the new site structure and fields in their database. Given the chance to redesign, and refresh the site, that same should ben sen for the products you hold: a chance to review—which are your highest grossing products, which combinations of product and finishes should be brought to the fore, what new product development has yet to make it to thw website?

Consider new ways of doing things like dynamic PDFs for multi-optioned customised products. Anecdotally we heard of one product company in the high-end interiors industry, building their new product catalogue from the ground up, with so many SKUs and possible combinations of finishes associated with each product, (measuring 27,000 SKUs) only the senior decision-makers in the company knew what combinations were correct, something that couldn’t be left to their web agency.

The new way

The problem doesn’t get any easier even if you have managed to extract and present the data in a useable way to ‘migrate’ into the new site, there will still need to be work undertaken on any improvements that SEO flag up with the meta data per product and per page. Additionally, once the products have been uploaded, there will need to be time spent on the ‘relationships’ between produces and categories, time creating the ‘filters’  required for advanced searches and the all important images need to be uploaded to added to each product—does the new site require these images to be resaved and used larger than before. Are here new or better ways of preventing their product images with CGI or new product photography? There is no easy way for this to be automated, or bound into an excel spreadsheet.

A team game

Remember to factor in your own teams ‘internal time’ into the new site, factor that into the budget. Its likely that the members in your team will have ’their busy day jobs’ and the move to a new site has to be factored into their workload. If there is little extra capacity with your team’s ability to be involved in sharing the load, be ready to pay for this if you still need to outsource this function.

The reality

There is no magic button or silver bullet that takes away the problem of content migration and population of content in your new site. If your agency has costed to win, don’t be surprised if unexpected bills creep in when, following the successful build, you find that 'outsourcing the population and migration phase to the winning agency that touhgt conversation may follow.

A new website is always going to be a BIG project, one that needs much time spent in creating an accurate specification that agencies can cost against. Time and resources need to be set aside both fpr the planning and population of a site. Expecting all this to be a problem taken away by the new agency is asking for a diffiuclt time further down the line.

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