WordPress, which now powers over 17% of the Web, is becoming the CMS of choice for most users. What about sites built without a CMS or with an old CMS? Moving to WordPress means starting from scratch and losing the time, money, and energy you have invested in your current website. Nope!
It’s actually much easier to migrate a website, including the design, over to WordPress than you may think. This guide will outline the migration process, and we’ll work through each step with a sample. We will also discuss some of the possible challenges and solutions.
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This Guide #
Let’s set the scene before we begin. This guide is primarily written for beginners and will be of most use to basic sites. This guide does not cover advanced WordPress migration. Please share any difficulties you may have when attempting a progressive migration in the comments section below.
This guide will help you to:
- Plan a migration to WordPress that is effective.
- The technical steps of migrating.
- Find ideas and resources for common migration challenges.
You should be familiar with WordPress. It would be beneficial, but not essential, to have some previous development experience in WordPress. You will also need to have a website that is already designed and ready to be migrated to WordPress.
BASIC STEPS #
Following are the steps I would recommend for a typical WordPress Migration:
- Evaluate your website. Go through all the pages of your website and identify the different types of content. Noting areas that require special attention.
- Install WordPress and prepare for import.
- Import your content. Organize and bring over the content you have, either via an importing program, manual entry for a small number of items when there is no tool available, or custom importing.
- Migrate your design. Integrate your existing structure into a customized WordPress theme.
- Review the website and go live. Review the import carefully, make any necessary adjustments, then set up any URL redirections and go live.
Let’s go through each step with this outline as a guide.
Plan Your Start #
To ensure a smooth migration, it is important to evaluate your existing website. Before you can carry over the design, you need to learn how to import the content and structure it in WordPress.
While the basic principles of migration are similar, details can vary. Below are two lists to consider as you develop a plan.
- How many pages, images, etc., do you need to import? )?
- Does the volume of data you want to import allow it to be done manually, or do you require a tool?
- Does an existing tool exist that you can use?
- Can the content be classified into standard “posts” or “pages,” or is it required to use custom post types?
- Do you need to store extra content for certain pages? )?
- Will the URL structure be changed? Will the old URLs have to be redirected? If so?
- Is the website integrated with any third-party service (data collection or reservations)? )?
- Are there any forms that need to be migrated? )?
- Does any content have restricted access (such as content for members only)?
- Is the website a retailer of physical or digital products?
- Are there any administrative tools that need to be transferred (e.g., custom CMS functionality?
A Working EXAMPLE #
Joshua Wold has offered to create a website as an example. It’s a side-project of his where he sells posters, postcards, and a Vegan Food Pyramid. He made the website using plain HTML with a few basic PHP, including the headers and footers. Here is a screencast showing me evaluating the site to give you an idea of the process. Enjoy!