What Does It Mean To Convert A Website To WordPress?
So you have a 3 or 4 year old HTML website that you want to be able to manage, and perhaps start blogging. Since WordPress is so easy to work with, and used by even some of the largest corporations, it’s a no-brainer. WordPress seems the obvious choice.
So what needs to be considered?
First, a complete review of the site design, coding, and functionality are necessary to determine what needs to be done to migrate your content into a WordPress environment.
Since the coding is a few years old, this is a perfect time to go over it and see if there’s anything you need to change or want to improve upon. The HTML code you have will be broken up into “chunks” so to speak… separate files that make up the layout of your homepage, subpages, blog section, etc. and any custom pages that are significantly different, will be separate template files as well.
Are there any special areas, such as Call To Action areas on the homepage, or a portfolio for instance? If so, then those areas would be coded a little differently, so they can be managed easily in the admin, such as Custom Fields, or Custom Shortcodes might be needed (so you don’t have to learn HTML to manage your site.)
Since WordPress offers so many plugins, it might be appropriate to replace your existing code for some of the functionality in your current site, such as Contact Forms, for instance. Another option is to improve areas with new features and content, such as replacing an old static image with a slideshow or a full width video… maybe add a MailChimp subscription form to start gathering emails to keep in touch with customers. If that’s the case, then installing a few Plugins would be useful.
Installing WordPress is easy but I do frown on the automatic installers that are available in your hosting control panel for several reasons. One of the most important, is that it keeps the “wp_” database table prefix which is not secure, among other things. Best to leave the installation process to a designer that will install it manually.
Now that the coding is finished, it’s time to add your content. If your site is large, this can be a daunting task, but a lot of copy/paste will have to happen at some point.
There are a few instances where content can be imported using a Plugin, but these options are limited to only a handful of other platforms that can be imported this way.
If your site is not one of those platforms, and it’s way too gigantic to start typing (hundreds of pages, for instance) you would probably want to hire a programmer to code an importer for you, or convert your old database for import… if you don’t have a database, we’re back to copy/pasting again…
New Hosting Provider?
If your old host isn’t cutting it anymore, this is a perfect opportunity to improve your site’s performance, security, and reliability by moving to a better host. To do that, you’ll need to make sure you have your Domain Registar login credentials handy because you’ll need to point your DNS (domain name servers) to the new hosting account.
Resources For More Information
Recommended Hosting Providers
Blue Host (if you’re on a tight budget, and don’t mind your site going down now and then…)
Hosts to avoid: GoDaddy, Hostgator, Just Host, WP Engine, Rackspace, Network Solutions, Media Temple, Lunar Pages… there are more that I’ve seen really do a terrible job, this is the shortlist.