Skip to content
Thoughtfarmer intranet blog
Processes and Productivity

How-to: Intranet content migration

This worksheet helps you plan your content migration, whether you are creating your first intranet, migrating to a new intranet or just refreshing a section.

7 minute read
content migration
You might also like…
Intranet use cases Thumbnail
Intranet use cases

Updated April 7th, 2021. “Alright intranet project team, who wants to lead the content migration… Nobody? But it’s so critical… We can’t have a new intranet without content… I’ll provide chocolate and scotch…”

Content migration may not be the most exciting part of an intranet project, but it’s essential to your intranet’s success.

To help you tackle content migration, we’ve provided in this article the intranet content migration worksheet we use with ThoughtFarmer clients. This post explains how and when to use the content migration worksheet and provides a few advanced tips. 

Screen Shot 2021 03 29 At 1 07 02 PM

What roles does a content audit play in your intranet's IA?

Learn more in our guide to intranet information architecture.

Download now
Intranet Information Architecture White Paper, cover

4 phases of intranet content migration

You’ve likely heard the terms: intranet content inventory, intranet content audit, and intranet content migration. These terms are often used interchangeably, but there are differences.

Phase 1: Content inventory for the old intranet

The first step is to figure out what content you already have. Usually it lives on your old intranet (though many intranet projects seek to move content from other repositories, such as shared drives, to the new intranet).

Key questions: What content do we have? Who owns it? Where is it? And what format is it in?

Phase 2: Content audit

During the intranet content audit phase you will analyze the content and make decisions about it. The content audit often overlaps with the content inventory, in which case you may be making decisions as you chronicle the content you find.

Key questions: What do we keep? What do we delete or archive? What needs to be improved? What should be shifted to a more user-friendly format? And what new content do we need?

Phase 3: Content migration mapping

This is where focus shifts from the old intranet to the new one. Before you go forward with content mapping you need to solidify the navigation for your new intranet. 

Key questions: Where does it go on the new site? What is the most important content? What should be moved first? And who is responsible for moving the content?

Phase 4: Content migration and migration tracking

For larger intranets, you’ll probably need an entire team. Recruit 5 to 10 people, order some pizza, and migrate some content.  

Key questions: Who is responsible for editing and improving the content? What has been completed? And, who might need help to stay on target?

Understanding the fields in the content migration template

Here are the fields (column titles) from the worksheet, with brief explanations about each one.

Phase Field Explanation
Content Inventory Content ID Numeric values given to content piece to track & reference content.
Content Name What the page or file is currently called.
Current Location Where it lives on the old intranet (or other repository).
Content Type HTML page, PDF, Word doc, etc./td>
Content Description A few words about content’s purpose and use.
Content Audit Frequency of Use Based on knowledge or analytics.
Owner/Maintainer Who is (or at least SHOULD BE) responsible for it.
Status Do you plan to delete, archive, keep, or re-write the content?
Priority Is it critical content users need daily? Important but doesn’t have to be moved in first round of migration?
Notes Any key points about content not covered in other fields.
Content Mapping New Location Section or navigation path where content will live on new intranet.
Page/File Type Landing page? Content page? Community page? Attached PDF?
Migration Tracking Date Created When it was moved/created on the new intranet.
Created By The person who created it on the new intranet.

A simplified, scaled down approach

For smaller, simpler intranets, the complete spreadsheet may be unnecessary. You can simplify the content migration spreadsheet by:

  • Only listing must-have content. If it doesn’t need to be migrated, don’t list it. 
  • Omitting fields that may be obvious (current location, content type, content description)
  • Skipping migration tracking (date created, created by)

Precursors: Card sorting & task testing

Once you’ve completed the content inventory and content audit, you’ll come up against a critical (and obvious) question: Where should the content go? The easiest answer is to copy the old intranet’s navigation over to your brand new intranet.

A better approach however is to run a sequence of user-centered design (UXD) exercises. Through an iterative process these techniques will help build a navigation structure that makes sense to your users. The most common steps for building a user-friendly intranet navigation include:

  • Creating intranet user personas: Create archetypal characters who represent your common user types. They will help ground your decisions in what employees actually need. See our how-to guide for creating intranet user personas.
  • Intranet card sorting: Find out how a variety of employees group common content topics. This will help you draft a navigation based on how employees would naturally group intranet content. See our how-to guide for intranet card sorting for a detailed explanation.
  • Intranet task testing: Test how well your draft navigation helps people find what they need. This will help you make improvements and come up with a final intranet navigation. See our how-to guide for intranet task testing for an in-depth guide.

Make it manageable with the 80/20 rule

The 80/20 rule applies to intranet content: about 20% of the content on your intranet will account for about 80% of what your employees need.

About 20% of the content on your intranet will account for about 80% of what your employees need.

iIdentify the content used most frequently by large numbers of employees. Migrate that content first. You can use the “Priority” field in the worksheet to note this content and sort by it. Once you’ve finished moving the most important 20%, move on to the next big chunk of content.

When to use the intranet content migration worksheet

The intranet content migration worksheet plays a critical role in: building an intranet, periodic content reviews, or even revamping specific sections. 

When conducting a quarterly content review, you don’t have to fill out the worksheet each time. Just update it with content that’s been added since the last review. You can even add a column for “popularity”. This will let you note the most popular pages and those that never get used.

The key is to make period content reviews actionable. For example, important content rarely used may need to be revamped or moved. Low-value content never used could simply be deleted forever.

When using the sheet to revamp a specific section, consider starting with a high priority section that is under-performing. 

This approach will let you continuously improve and deliver new value. It also gives you good reason to maintain consistent stakeholder engagement and communicate about the intranet with employees.

Engaging content owners, spreading the workload

If your intranet has 10,000 pages and files (which is perfectly common), the task of inventorying all of it will be a huge effort for just one person.

But you can make the work much more manageable if you can have each department inventory its own content, or different members of the intranet team tackle different sections of the intranet.

This approach also engages intranet stakeholders. Once they spend time on the content inventory they will gain informed views to feed into the content audit, and will feel more invested in its success. Don’t forget to also run a training workshop. Gather your content owners and study the content migration worksheet together.

We never sugar-coat the time and effort content inventory takes (click here to see the journey we took to redesigning our own intranet). It’s definitely work—but we promise the rewards are worth it.