May 17, 2024

Top 5 challenges in CMS Migration and how digital agency owners can overcome them

Data is the lifeblood of any website. It’s the content your visitors rely on, the information that drives conversions (online sales or lead generation), and the foundation of your online presence. While Migrating your website to a new CMS can be a great move, it can also be daunting. 

Studies show that about 38% of CMS migration projects fail, often due to data handling issues [Source: Valuebound]. Inconsistent data formats, limited timeframes, and the pressure to find skilled resources are just a few of them. Extracting this data from your old CMS, ensuring its integrity, and integrating it seamlessly into the new one requires careful planning and execution. 

However, understanding the common challenges can help you develop strategies to streamline the process and minimize downtime. This guide will walk you through the top data migration hurdles you might encounter and ensure your website’s content emerges impeccably. 

1. Data Migration Challenge: Untangling The Mess

Moving your website’s content to a new system can be trickier than it seems. Unlike packing boxes, data migration involves translating all your content, from text to images, into a format the new system understands. Here’s what can go wrong:

  • Mixed-Up Formats: Text is simple, but what about pictures, galleries, or fancy extras? Different CMSes might store these differently.
  • Structure Shuffle: How your old CMS organizes things (categories, tags) might not work perfectly in the new one, leading to broken links.
  • Missing Details: Important hidden info like publishing dates can get lost during migration if not handled carefully.

 Data Migration Strategies

  1. Content Inventory: Take Stock Before You Move: Before migrating, make a complete list of everything on your website to ensure nothing gets left behind.
  2. Migration Tools: Use the Right Tools for the Job: Use built-in or separate migration tools designed for your specific CMS platforms.
  3. Test It First: Practice Makes Perfect: Set up a temporary version of your website (staging environment) to test the migration process and fix any issues before affecting your live site.

By understanding these challenges and using the right strategies, you can ensure a smooth transition for your website’s content.

2. Content Mapping Challenge: Making the Old Fit the New

Imagine your website content as a big city. Streets (categories) organize buildings (content), and hidden details (metadata) give each building its character. Moving to a new CMS can be like moving this city to a completely different place, where the street layout and building codes are totally different.

  • Taxonomy Trouble: Categories and tags might not translate perfectly between platforms, leading to lost connections and confused visitors.
  • Missing Metadata: Important details like publishing dates, author info, and SEO tags can be easily lost in translation if not mapped correctly.
  • Structural Shifts: Differences in how content is organized can lead to broken internal links and a frustrating user experience.

Content Mapping Strategies:

  1. Content Mapping Plan: Plan Your Move: Develop a detailed plan that outlines how your content structure, categories, and hidden details will be mapped to the new CMS.
  2. Automation Assistance: Let the Tools Do the Work (When Possible): Use built-in or separate mapping tools to automate the process where possible.
  3. Content Creator Collaboration: Get Help from the Experts: Work closely with your content creators to ensure accurate mapping of content types and hidden details. Their knowledge of the existing content is invaluable.

By planning your content mapping strategy and involving key players, you can ensure your website’s content structure stays organized and user-friendly after the migration.

3. Custom Features: Not All Features Make the Move (and What to Do About It)

Your old CMS might have some special features you’ve customized or built from scratch. The bad news? These custom features can be a challenge to bring along to your new CMS.

  • One-Off Features, One-Off Problems: These custom features were designed specifically for your old CMS and might not work on the new one at all.
  • Missing Functionality Gap: The new CMS might not have built-in features to replace your custom ones, leaving you with holes in your website’s functionality.

Workarounds for Missing Custom Features:

  1. Prioritize Needs: Not All Features Are Created Equal: Take a deep breath and assess each custom feature. Decide which ones are truly essential for your website’s functionality. Focus on migrating those first.
  2. New CMS to the Rescue: See What It Can Do: The good news is many new CMS platforms offer a wide range of built-in features. Investigate what the new CMS can do and see if it can handle some of your custom functionality needs.
  3. Plug-and-Play Solutions: Maybe There’s an App: There’s a good chance there are third-party add-ons or plugins available that can replicate your custom features. Explore these options before diving into expensive development work.
  4. Development as a Last Resort: Building It Yourself: If none of the above solutions work, you might need to allocate resources to have a developer rebuild the custom features for the new CMS.

By understanding these challenges and using the right strategies, you can ensure a smooth transition for your website’s features.

4. SEO Challenge: Keeping Your Search Ranking Strong

Search engine optimization (SEO) is all about how well your website shows up in search results. Migrating to a new CMS can disrupt your SEO if you’re not careful. Here’s why:

  • URL Changes: Your website’s addresses (URLs) might change during the migration. This can confuse search engines and hurt your ranking.
  • Site Structure Shifts: The way your content is organized on your website (site structure) might also change. This can make it harder for search engines to understand your website.
  • Other SEO Elements: Other SEO elements like your sitemap and robots.txt file might also need to be updated during migration.

Strategies to overcome SEO Challenges

  1. 301 Redirects: Forwarding Mail for Search Engines: A 301 redirect is like a forwarding address for search engines. It tells them that your old URLs have moved to new locations on your website. This helps maintain your SEO ranking.
  2. Sitemap and Robots.txt Updates: New Address, New Map: Your sitemap and robots.txt file basically act like a map for search engines. Update them to reflect any changes to your website’s structure or URLs after migration.
  3. Monitor and Adjust: Keeping an Eye on Your Search Ranking: After migration, keep an eye on your website’s SEO performance. If you see any drops in ranking, investigate and make adjustments as needed.

5. Downtime Challenges: Keeping Your Website Online During the Move

Imagine moving your house without ever leaving it. That’s what migrating a website to a new CMS can feel like. The challenge? Keeping your website up and running while you transfer everything behind the scenes. Here’s why it can be tricky:

  • Website Offline = Lost Business: Every minute your website is down is a minute you could be losing customers or leads.
  • Disrupted User Experience: Downtime can frustrate visitors who can’t access your website when they need it.

Strategies to Minimize Downtime:

  1. Pick Your Moment Wisely: Night Moves Are Best: Whenever possible, schedule your CMS migration during off-peak hours or periods with low website traffic. This helps minimize disruption for your visitors.
  2. Communication is Key: Keep Everyone in the Loop: Before you migrate, communicate with website stakeholders and users about potential downtime and the expected impact.
  3. Rollback Plan for the Unexpected: Just in Case: Have a rollback plan in place in case of unexpected issues during migration. This allows you to quickly revert to your old CMS if necessary.

Outsource for Success: Bringing in the Experts

Migrating a website to a new CMS can be a complex undertaking. The good news? You don’t have to go it alone. Outsourcing certain aspects of the migration process can be a smart way to overcome CMS migration challenges and ensure a smooth transition.

Here’s how outsourcing can help:

  • Expertise on Tap: Partnering with experienced agencies or consultants specializing in CMS migration brings their knowledge, tools, and best practices to the table.
  • Streamlined Process: Outsourcing tasks like data migration, customization, or integration frees up your internal team to focus on other areas. This can lead to a faster and more efficient migration.
  • Specialized Skills: External partners might have specialized skills your in-house team lacks, such as SEO optimization or content strategy expertise. This can give your website an extra edge after migration.
  • Resource Optimization: By strategically outsourcing specific tasks, you can optimize your resources and avoid stretching your internal team too thin.
  • Faster Completion: Outsourcing can help accelerate project timelines by bringing in additional manpower and expertise.
  • Reduced Risk: Experienced migration partners can help mitigate risks associated with the process.

Outsourcing can be a valuable tool to ensure a successful and stress-free CMS migration.


Migrating your website to a new CMS can be a powerful move, but it’s not without its hurdles. We’ve explored some of the key challenges you might encounter, from untangling data complexities to ensuring a smooth SEO transition and minimizing downtime.

The key to overcoming these challenges lies in proactive planning and strategic execution. Understanding the potential pitfalls and developing a comprehensive migration plan can ensure a smoother and more successful journey.

Remember, even the most well-planned migrations can encounter unexpected bumps. It is important to learn from these challenges and use them to improve your website migration process for the future.

Don’t go it alone! Partnering with experienced migration specialists can provide invaluable expertise, resources, and peace of mind. Together, we can help you navigate the maze of CMS migration and emerge with a stronger, faster, and more efficient website than ever before.

Schedule a consultation with us to delve deeper into your specific needs.

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