Site consolidation – the tech is the least of your worries

One of the tasks I find myself undertaking more frequently is site consolidation.

The typical scenario is Huge Global Corporation Inc. has developed (and i use that term very loosely) their web presence over a period of years with no strategic plan. Yes each of their different websites may serve the purposes of a different part of Huge Global Corporation Inc. but none of them connect to each other on even the most basic level. Forget APIs and data flow (big data? yeah right!), send an email via one and someone somewhere is probably printing it out and putting it on a colleagues desk. I do not exaggerate.

How many sites do we have?

One company I worked with had between 70 and 140 websites. They did not actually know the precise number. Scary, huh?

But let’s say you have something more reasonable like a corporate who has 19 websites. And they want them all to play nice. Even all reflect the corporate brand maybe? (Don’t get me started on digital brand guidelines…)

First thing to do is create what I call a ‘universe map’, a schematic that shows all the existing sites (and apps, and Facebook pages, and Twitter feeds) and how they relate to each other.  Oh and how many different Content Management Systems they all use.

Then if you actually have accurate analytics (again, very unlikely) you can have a look and see where the traffic is flowing within and between the sites.

Business Requirements. Always handy.

Then you can refer back to what Huge Global Corporation Inc. now wants in terms of their business requirements (if they have them).

So you look at what they have and what they want and come up with a pragmatic plan.  An information architecture. That of course sits on top of the technical architecture. The  two will overlap but remember that your users do not give a stuff what OS a server is running.

But then you hit the real killer of projects.

Politics.

And so maybe the real skill of an Information Architect is in navigating the internal rivalries of Huge Global Corporation Inc., not the server configurations.