When Drupal 9 released in June 2020, it launched with the promise that moving from Drupal 8 to Drupal 9 would be the simplest upgrade ever. For websites already on Drupal 8 (like Acquia.com) the upgrade process is generally straightforward. Drupal 9 was built in Drupal 8 and contained mainly the same features and structure.
However, in every CMS migration, including our own recent website relaunch, there are several steps to follow to make sure everything runs smoothly on the new site. Migration testing ensures that all content and site components are moved over correctly without impacting the legacy data, functionality and existing SEO ranking and domain authority. Large-scale migrations for sites with years’ worth of content and data require ongoing quality assurance (QA) work and testing to copy over everything properly. So how can you ensure that everything is functioning as it should be on the new site without bringing business operations to a grinding halt? Here’s how we executed an efficient and successful migration testing plan.
Updating Deprecated and Legacy Code via Automated Migration Tools
While the migration is in process, the testing team makes sure no needed data or content gets lost when porting the data from one version to the next. We recommend implementing a content freeze old across the old site, so new content doesn’t get added that was not accounted for during the content mapping process. This freeze requires communicating to all site editors and stakeholders in advance not to publish or edit content on the old site without communicating these needs to the migration team.
Drupal 9 does not support deprecated code, so you first need to locate all outdated custom or deprecated code. Acquia.com has been around since 2007, which meant that there was a lot of code to evaluate and not all of it would be compatible on the new site. With a vast amount of data to migrate, not all of the migration and testing could be done manually. Thankfully, teams have the ability to expedite the process with automation tools like Acquia’s Drupal 9 Deprecation Status page and Drupal’s Upgrade Status module. These tools made checking for compatibility for all contributed modules much quicker. These tools identified legacy code or contributed models that required versions of third-party dependencies that would not work in Drupal 9. Deprecated contributed modules either needed to be removed and replaced with alternative solutions or rewritten before the upgrade.
Content Testing is a Continuous Process, Not a Single Sprint
An incremental approach to migration can be less overwhelming. For example, organizations can start by migrating all content within a specific content type, such as all Articles or Press Releases. For migrating our translations, we used Cloudflare's proxy service to essentially redirect and point to our old site. This allowed us to launch the new site while translations were still being actively created. Once all content types and fields were established, we were able to map which content went where on the site. Moving forward we’re continuing our translation efforts and will gradually remove each proxy as needed as more translations are added.
In a perfect world, the development team would make sure that everything is thoroughly tested before it goes live, but that is not always possible when dealing with a large quantity of content and data. We chose to tackle as many initial updates and pages as possible rather than getting stuck making sure everything was 100% fixed on launch day. An agile approach to web development requires prioritizing the most important initiatives first, such as your highest converting content types, and then tackling the remaining content and updates in phases.
When automating the content migration process, it is possible that some content or data gets lost or broken during the shift. So it’s important to enlist the rest of your internal content editors and site users to check for any missing content or broken links or media entities across the new site, so these issues can be logged and fixed. A successful migration is a team effort, so the more eyes you can have evaluating and checking over the new site right after the initial launch, the faster you can identify any obvious issues and work to provide an optimal digital experience.
In our next installment of our website relaunch series, we’ll look at the creative aspects of designing a new website. In the meantime, catch up on all our other website relaunch tips.