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What should I migrate from the old site to the new Portland.gov?

We do not need to migrate all 350,000+ content objects from the old platform—much of the old site is unused and duplicates that cause search and discovery to work poorly. There are several criteria that can help you pick the right content to migrate.

Published

Migrating content with the most pageviews is a good start, but look for other criteria as well. We have a lot of content that gets poor pageview counts because it is buried in our site and because it is poorly written for search engine discovery. It is hard to even see that content in our analytics because of the poorly structured URLs (web addresses).

Very little is legally mandated outside of City ordinances, resolutions, and Portland policy documents maintained by the Auditors Office. We plan to import our City code, charter, and policies into a more searchable structure that should make much of that content easier to access than in the current model.

We should definitely highlight requests for accessible accommodations. In partnership with the 311 project, we are hoping to transfer much of that process to a new intake form. which will improve the usefulness of the information and referral number—and later 311—to act as the single point of contact for starting those accessibility requests.

Critical information for the public is a tough qualification. What makes it critical? If it is critical, do we have the means to ensure people are directed to that content rather than relying on them to find it randomly?

This is an area we can improve dramatically within the City. For all our content workshops, we have been asking our stakeholders to ask questions for every piece of content they decide to bring over:

  1. Why would someone want to know about this, and what is their motivation to come to our site to find it?
  2. What kind of community member are they? 
  3. What journey do we expect them to take to this content?

The "user journey" is our most important criteria for making sure the content is worth migrating—or even writing for the first time—on the new Portland.gov. A typical user journey exercise would look something like this:

A community member wants to find out about the road project near their house:

  1. Primary journey: They search Google (what did they ask?), then they get directed to the project summary on Portland.gov, then they read updates about the project or look at upcoming events to see how it will impact them.
  2. Secondary journey: They see a sign next to the construction with a short link they can visit, then they get directed to the project summary on Portland.gov, then they read updates about the project or look at upcoming events to see how it will impact them.

Eventually, we'll be able to start exploring journeys that are not currently possible, so such as "they visit Portland.gov and click on 'projects near me'". That is likely at least a year out as we need content to be able to show that proof of concept effectively.

Another good way to approach user journeys is to think about each page from a quick check list of where their journey might start. You could tag your migration plan—the list of content you think you might migrate—with the referral sources:

  • Organic search (Google, Bing, etc.)
  • Site search or discovery (starting from the Portland.gov homepage)
  • Email campaign (bonus points if you can associate the list with the content)
  • Physical media (sign or print materials with a link)
  • Site referral - news or public website linking to us

If you can't fill in at least one of those referral sources, the content likely does not need to be migrated.

We all need to remember that having less content that is of a higher quality will greatly improve the site. Doing less to start will also get us to the day we can switch over from the old system sooner rather than later.