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Solve Forward® is a journal of learned lessons and experiences from the digital transformation front-lines. We are here to share our experiences, and interview others who Solve Forward and learn along the way.

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Migrating to a Headless CMS

Headless CMS Migration

Many modern businesses are switching away from traditional CMS platforms like WordPress and Drupal to headless CMS platforms. What is a headless CMS? Headless CMSs are typically more scalable, secure, customizable, and easier to integrate with other applications. In this journal entry, we will be discussing how to migrate your current website or application over to a headless platform. We'll cover the benefits of migration for your business as well as some of the steps you can take in order to make this transition successful!

Understand the benefits of migrating to a headless CMS

Migrating to a headless CMS can vastly improve the scalability and customization of your online presence. Additionally, it allows you to control every aspect of your website from one place using a drag-and-drop interface. Choosing a headless CMS can also reduce ongoing maintenance costs. Using a headless CMS can also save time when developing custom integrations with other applications because it uses an API.

A Headless CMS can help you to increase your customer engagement. As more of your business moves towards being digital, the importance of being able to quickly target all channels becomes vital for both user experience and SEO. Removing the need for a dedicated CMS team before you can push updates means that changes are more likely to be made sooner, making it easier for you to keep your website in sync with all the other channels.

Consider who will be managing the migration

Our biggest warning for anyone considering migrating to a headless CMS is to make sure that your team is knowledgeable enough on the platform to troubleshoot any issues that might arise during migration. The team should be capable of learning or should already know about the quirks of the old platform being migrated from as well. A mistake made during the migration could be costly to your business so it's important that you take this into consideration before embarking on a headless CMS transition. CMS platforms like Joomla, Drupal, Sitecore, Umbraco, Adobe Experience Manager, and WordPress have their own quirks.

Determine what type of headless CMS you want to use

It's not just about migrating content, but also the design and layout of your site. You have to worry about making sure all the links work, that you don't lose any data in the process and more. Various Headless CMS options exist in the market today. GraphCMS, ContentFul, and are just one of few top performers. Coupled with the Headless CMS, there needs to be a JAMStack based static site generator with advanced enterprise features to generate the front end of the website. The top performers are NextJS, GatsbyJS, and Jekyll.

Design and Content

Along with content migration, the site design will have to move to a ReactJS based application. At this stage, it is best to start the conversations on whether a redesign is required or a 1-1 copy of the design is needed. At the same time, the data migration team will need to start exporting the old site and associated content into an intermediate format that can be used by the import process. Care should be taken to make sure the old content is transferred according to the needs of the new design, or if a new design is needed.

Create an outline for the migration process

Once development on the design is complete, the data migration process begins. Data migration is a major task for any organization looking to change its CMS. For website migrations with a large amount of content, pages, images, and posts, it’s a major undertaking. With the right strategy, it can be fairly easy to accomplish. With the wrong strategy, it can create chaos and panic.

Here are some tips on how best to perform data migration:

  • Ensure that you have enough time and resources allocated to complete the process without interruption.
  • Know your needs and wants beforehand so that you can plan accordingly.
  • Create a list of what content needs to be migrated and map out paths for each piece of content from its original location to its new destination in the headless CMS's structure.
  • Plan for any potential problems that may arise during migration, including downtime or errors in data conversion.

Migrating your website to a Headless CMS is the best way to ensure that it will be able to handle any new challenges or changes in the future. But you’ll want to take some precautions before you start so that everything goes smoothly. A dry run can be set up by the development team before a production switchover. A rollback plan should have documentation of what would happen if the new site launch fails. We cannot emphasize this enough. Sometimes even the best-devised plans and strategies don’t work. How can you get back to operational stability until you can find an alternate path forward?

Start migrating!

The migration process for a CMS is not to be taken lightly. If you're considering migrating your website from one CMS platform to another, it's important that you take the time necessary to do so correctly and without interruption, or errors in data conversion. We've provided tips on how best to perform data migration as well as what issues could arise during the process of transitioning from a traditional web-based content management system (CMS) like WordPress, Drupal, Sitecore, Umbraco, Adobe Experience Manager, etc., to a headless CMS such as GraphCMS or Contentful. We hope these insights will help make your transition smoother! The reality is that if you want your site with all its content migrated to a headless CMS platform, you're going to have to do the heavy lifting.

Headless CMSs are a new way of thinking about web development. As you can see, they have many benefits for your business and we're excited to share them with you! If you want to find out more about this platform or what it would take to migrate over from WordPress, Drupal, or another traditional CMS system.

If you're looking for best practices on how to migrate your content from a traditional web-based content management system (CMS) to a headless CMS, Solvative wants to help make your transition as smooth as possible. Reach out to us at

If you have questions about digital transformation that you’d like for us to cover, please email or @solveforward on Twitter. We’d love to hear from you!