Highland Council

Building a content migration strategy for all devices

Highland Council website on a desktop, tablet and mobile device

The new Highland Council website is built using Jadu CMS and designed by Spacecraft.

The background story

The Highland Council procured Jadu Universe CMS in October 2013 through G-Cloud, to replace Microsoft Content Management Server (MCMS) 2002.

As part of the project for implementing Jadu CMS, the Council needed to migrate content from MCMS to Jadu Universe CMS and implement a full re-design to meet the demand from customers using mobile devices and tablets to access local services.

Over 22,000 items of content were stored in MCMS and published in a number of areas of the website.

Jadu always recommends that automated content migration is considered for sites with over 10,000 items of content, and helped The Highland Council formulate a strategy and plan as part of the new website implementation project.

There's no silver bullet to automate content migration (off-the-shelf tools are expensive and manual migration takes time) so the best approach is often a hybrid sympathetic to the project.

Manually refreshing and improving important content while migrating large volumes of static content automatically can be an effective strategy. This combines the benefits of manual migration by focusing effort on high-priority content, while remaining cost-effective for automatically migrating large amounts of historical content.

The methodology

The content migration project for The Highland Council started with two days of on-site consultancy with a senior Jadu engineer, to explore in detail the data held on the current website.

The most significant questions that needed answers at this point were:

  • Where is the data stored?
  • How is the data accessed?
  • What is the structure of the data?
  • What are the timescales and resources for content migration?

In addition to this, The Council conducted some of their own analysis to determine the different areas of content on their site, the numbers of records in each area and their priority for migrating content. Based on this information Jadu conducted further analysis, the result of which was a document that detailed:

  • The suitability of different types of content to be migrated
  • Estimations for migrating the content manually
  • Estimations for creating content migration software
  • Recommendations on which content areas to migrate manually and which to migrate using automation
  • Methodology for automatically migrating content

The recommendation to The Highland Council was to migrate part of the content manually and the rest using custom developed automation software.

This was based on a number of factors including the number of items of content for a particular area (for example, there were over 4,000 committee meeting records), the consistency and quality of the content and the time that creating an automated migration tool would take.

It was critical that the recommendations, for both the manual and automated effort, were achievable within the required project timescales and placed the quality of the content first.

For a number of areas of the site this meant that the recommendation was to migrate manually in order to improve the content. Identifying content to be migrated manually was not the end of the story in terms of automation.

Jadu have developed a content migration assistant: a Firefox browser plugin that takes away the pain of copying and pasting and makes migrating content manually faster.

The Highland Council have used this to increase the efficiency of their manual content migration, whilst re-writing and re-structuring content suitable for delivery on mobile and tablet devices.

Consider the user

Obviously, automated migration is only recommended when the existing content is fresh, up to date and well written. The Council considered the user experience and user journeys that were critical to inform design decisions.

Iterating through content migration as the design and build phases were in progress meant that the quality and cohesiveness of the site could be incrementally built up.

Expected Outcomes

The hybrid approach resulted in a cost-effective strategy for content migration. Small, yet key, portions of content on The Highland Council website required significant review, but the result on the new website was high quality, well structured content.

In addition to this a large amount of historic content that would be time-consuming to migrate manually (and not achievable within the timescale of the project) was migrated automatically and available on the new site at go-live.


The following timescales provide an outline of how the content migration work was planned as part of the overall project:

  • G-Cloud contract: October 2013
  • Content migration consultancy: October 2013
  • Content migration analysis and recommendations document: October 2013
  • The Highland Council review analysis and recommendations: November–December 2013
  • Parallel manual and automated content migration: January–March 2014
  • Site implementation: January - April 2014
  • Site live with migration content: May 2014

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