[Web4lib] Website Redesign Advice

Conal Tuohy Conal.Tuohy at vuw.ac.nz
Wed Sep 20 17:45:02 EDT 2006

Ruth Kneale wrote:

> Speaking of, has anyone ever taken an existing site and 
> stuffed it into 
> a CMS?  I don't really want to have to start from scratch and re-do 
> every page.  Any suggestions?

Yes; we did this once at my work, for an external client.

Some of the structure of the site was retained, but not entirely. Some
pages got moved around. We first tagged the exceptional pages with class
attributes to indicate where they would go in the new structure.

In every case we had to extract the content of the page from the
obsolete navigation content, and from the layout tables. In most cases
the content was in the same place, inside a table cell, but for other
cases we explicitly tagged the elements which contained real content
(again using class attributes). The original site did not use CSS at
all, so adding class attributes changed nothing to the look of the site.

Then we crawled the site, and used XSLT to transform the documents,
throwing away <font> tags, and extracting only the content. We also used
XSLT to extract all the hyperlinks out into a single "sitemap" xml file
and used that to adjust all the hyperlinks to point to the new locations
of the files.

It was quite a bit of work, but there were thousands of pages and
images, so it was never going to be easy. It had the advantage that we
could prepare for the transition while leaving the existing site live,
and then make a fairly sudden changeover without having to "freeze" the
content for very long.


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