Best Practices for Migrating a Microsite

Understanding the purpose of a legacy microsite can help you determine whether you should fold it into your newly designed website or dump it. These tips will help guide you in the decision making process.

In my tenure as a web manager, I’ve worked on countless projects where the client wanted to redesign their website. The first step in a site redesign process is to complete a site mapping exercise, where various pages and content are identified. As part of the process, we frequently uncovered microsites, which is somewhat like finding a skeleton in the closest. The newly found microsites raise the question of whether they should be collapsed into the site or permanently removed.

While answer may seem elusive, I’ve found that the decision can be driven through thinking about the common characteristics of a microsite. These characteristics include:

  • Temporary
  • Unique branding
  • Special content
  • Custom navigation/URL
  • Nonstandard content management

To clarify, a microsite is typically launched to support a new marketing initiative or promotion. The site may break the branding guidelines or rely on new print collateral so that the marketers can fully test their initiative. A microsite frequently has new content that doesn’t follow the normal content structure of the website. Additionally, the microsite may play a part in an SEO campaign or and SEM campaign so it may not link to the corporate site or require custom navigation so that visitors don’t have to think. Lastly, the content on the microsite may require more involvement than the corporate IT department can dedicate to this initiative.

So how do these characteristics help determine whether to migrate the microsite?

To answer this question, one must simply evaluate whether the characteristics of the site when it was built have stood the test of time. Some questions to ask yourself include:

  • Has the marketing initiative or promotion become a permanent part of your marketing offerings?
  • Can the design shift back to the corporate branding guidelines?
  • Can the content fit within the corporate website through the use of an existing content template?
  • Will the microsite continue to meet its goals if the navigation matches the corporate site?
  • Can the content on the microsite be managed through a Content Management System or CMS?

By answering more of the questions above with a yes, the clearer the direction is to fold the microsite in with your website.

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