Eating Our Own CAT Food

Mar 13, 2014

catfood.jpgIn the tech world, you often hear the phrase “eating our own dog food”—meaning using your own products in real-world situations to see what your users are experiencing.

We recently migrated the content portion of content-insight.com from Joomla to Concrete5 and I wanted to share how we used the Content Analysis Tool (CAT) in the process. As with any migration project, I started with an inventory of the current site to see just where we were starting from. Our site had originally been set up in 2011, so our content management system had accumulated a certain amount of cruft—images that had been replaced, early versions of pages, discarded components, and so on. That’s why we always recommend starting your migration planning by looking at what’s on your site currently, not just grabbing everything that is in the CMS. The analogy of moving to a new house applies here—you don’t want to take the stuff you don’t need any more and chances are good that if it’s not live on the site now, you don’t need it.

Once we ran the CAT crawl to generate our inventory, we looked through the results to find pages that were missing titles or descriptions and marked those for follow-up in the new location, creating custom columns and tags to flag what needed to be addressed. With our list of pages and images that we wanted to recreate in the new site and our actions identified, we were ready to rebuild.

On the new site, we added in a little more navigational structure (breaking out a second-level under resources). Reviewing the resource details for each page, I was able to spot a page that had somehow ended up with no place in the navigation, so I knew to fix that in the new navigation. Since the resource details also list all the links out, I knew all the links I would need to update to reflect the changed site architecture and URL structure.

Speaking of URLs, one of the big issues I wanted to address with the new CMS was the URL structure. The old CMS generated multiple, very ugly URLs for every page (in addition to the SEO-friendly ones we actually wanted). Once we rebuilt the structure and the new pages in the new environment (with carefully constructed URLs), we ran another inventory on the staging server to get the new list. Comparing the two inventories side-by-side allowed me to create a list of the URLs that I wanted to set up redirects for, allowing me to kill off forever all those crazy auto-generated URLs that were anything but user- and search engine-friendly.

Finally, in addition to the migration, we also did a bit of a site design refresh. Because I included screenshots in my crawl of the old site, I now have a historical record of what the old site looked like. And I’ll keep that job’s data in my dashboard so that if I ever need to go back and find anything from the old site.

Thanks to CAT, this was a fast, easy migration and, dare I say it? Even kind of fun. Pass the kibble… 



Paula Land

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Paula Land is co-founder and CEO of Content Insight and author of Content Audits and Inventories: A Handbook.




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