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Content Migration Process and Best Practice

avatar of Kira Hartley

Kira Hartley

Last updated

To prepare for your site launch, you can migrate your previous website's content to our system. Use the steps in this guide to help you:

  1. URL listing
  2. Rationalization
  3. Audit
  4. Migration
  5. Review

These steps will help you create and organize your content, providing your community with the best site possible.

URL listing

Before migrating, you need a complete list of the pages on your current site. To assist, we recommend organizing your list of URLs into the Content Migration AIM (Archive, Improve, Migrate) spreadsheet.

  1. Create a list of all the page URLs from your current site. You can do this by:
    • Exporting a list of all page URLs from your CMS if it has an export feature.
    • Utilizing a link-crawling tool like Screaming Frog.
    • Exporting the top (up to) 5000 URLs from your Google Analytics account. When using this option, ensure that you include any low-view pages that are legally required, such as policy pages.
  2. Use the Content Migration AIM spreadsheet to organize your URLs. You can find this spreadsheet in the Resources section of this article; please ensure you remove the demo content before adding your own.


Rationalization is the process of choosing which content you will migrate. Review each page by opening the URL and decide whether to label it as:

  1. Migrate: migrate the page as is
  2. Improve: migrate and enhance the page. We recommend including notes about how you want to improve the page.
  3. Archive: don't migrate the page - if your organization has archival processes, follow the proper procedures to maintain an audit trail of archived pages.

When rationalizing and labeling your URLs, these questions can help guide you:

  • When was this content last updated?
  • How many page views does this content get?
  • What's the purpose of this content?
  • Who benefits from or is interested in this content?
  • Is this content necessary? Who needs it and why?
  • Is this content legally required to be on our website?
  • Is this content valuable?
  • Who would be impacted if this content isn't migrated?


When auditing, you decide how and where you will migrate your content. The OpenCities site tree mirrors the site's navigation structure, so consider how your site visitors will navigate your content.

To begin, open each URL to audit page by page:

  • Determine the page's content path based on where it sits on the original site.
    • You don't need to determine the page path if your new OpenCities site has a GXG IA sitemap.
  • Assign each page an OpenCities content type based on the purpose of the content.
  • Provide any instructions in the Content Notes column of the spreadsheet so multiple content migrators will have a consistent approach.
  • Put a Y in relevant columns if the pages contain linked PDFs, forms, iframes, images, sliding banners, or image galleries. This information is helpful to filter during or after migration.


Migrating is the process of creating and publishing pages in your site tree.

  • Read our user guides for an explanation and useful links about how to use OpenCities:
  • Start by creating the main navigation items and progress down through each section. Publishing the pages as you go will help you visualize your navigation and easily link between pages when migrating content.
  • Upload files to your File Library folders to link or embed them anywhere on your site.
    • Group files: use the files in this folder anywhere on your site. When accessed via the Files Library, it will inherit the site name (e.g., Public).
    • Shared Files: use the files in this folder on any of your sites (e.g., main site and subsites).


Review your site by checking each migrated page. To get started, open the original page and the migrated page in OpenCities. When reviewing, check:

  • Each page has been published in the correct location of your site tree.
  • The key page fields:
    • Your Page name, Page Title, and Short Description fields should be concise and meaningful and include relevant keywords to assist with SEO.
    • Ensure you've added the correct details in any contact or location fields.
    • Check that the relevant content labels or common search terms have been added.
  • The page content:
    • Ensure all content is relevant and there are no spelling or grammar mistakes.
    • Check your heading structure to ensure screen readers can read your content accurately. You shouldn't skip heading levels for appearance, nor should you use bold or larger text instead.
      • H1: Page title
      • H2: main heading
      • H3: subheading relating to the previous H2
      • H2: main heading
    • Check all internal and external hyperlinks are valid and link to the correct pages or documents.
    • Ensure your images display correctly and have alt text.
    • All tables should be responsive with a heading row or column and contain tabular data only.
    • Remove any non-breaking spaces from the bottom of each tab or accordion container.
  • The responsiveness of your pages using the Preview function or viewing the pre-live page with developer tools or your mobile device.


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