HTML to WordPress: A Migration Guide
Moving your site from HTML to WordPress can be a mysterious and sometimes scary process, especially if you do not know everything that is involved. This guide serves to provide you with some clarity as to all that needs to be done to convert a website from html to WordPress. It will also help you to know which questions to ask and help you gather all the necessary information so that the migration is a success.
Step 1: Information Gathering
At the beginning of the process, we will need to gather as much information as possible about your website. Browsing your site will help us get acquainted with your style and flow, but there may be things like hidden sales pages, confirmation messages, forms, downloads, etc. that we may not be aware of.
It’s important to ensure that the scope of the project is very clearly detailed during this phase to avoid delays in project completion or unforeseen costs.
Questions to Ask Yourself:
1. Do I want my WordPress Site to be an exact copy of my HTML website, or are there improvements or changes I would like to make?
a. What exactly are those improvements and changes?
2. How do I want the navigation to work? Consider hierarchy, layout, positioning, order, etc and provide as much detail as possible.
3. Do I need to make any changes to the content of the website? Do I want my WordPress pages to have the exact same formatting as I currently have (colors, font sizes, tables, etc)? Do I need to change any wording or forms?
4. What forms do I have on my site? Are there thank you or confirmation (hidden from navigation) pages that I need transferred over? How are those page redirects set up? (Typically these are set within the form controls, so if your form is from AWeber or Constant Contact, any changes to the URL of the thank you page must be made within that application)
5. Do I have any hidden sales pages or squeeze pages that I need migrated?
6. Are there any redirects in place, such as additional domains that redirect to my domain? (You may have the .org or .net version of your .com address that redirects automatically. It’s important that we are aware of these so that we can place the proper redirects and ensure that they are working at launch time)
7. Are there any elements or functionalities that I need to add to the new website, such as a widgetized footer or widgetized sidebars, sub navigation, breadcrumbs, disclaimers in the footer, footer navigation, etc?
8. Do I have closed membership only areas of the website that need to be transitioned?
9. Do I have a shopping cart or services page with PayPal buttons that must be transitioned?
10. Do I use any services that rely on particular pages within my website, such as RSS tools like Feedburner or web stat tracking tools?
11. Do I use custom email addresses, and, if I do, how do I access my email?
12. Do I use a lot of images on my website? Are they linked from an external source or do I upload them directly to my website? If they are external, do I want them linked locally instead?
These questions are important, and will form the basis for the bulk of information that is necessary to migrate your website to WordPress.
Step 2: Development
Development is the longest stage, and will comprise the bulk of the design work.
During the development stage, we will review your requirements carefully and build the structure of your site in WordPress. Development will often take place within a “Sandbox’ environment, an installation of WordPress off of your regular hosting and away from your domain, specifically for the purpose of testing, designing, and migrating content. This typically involves:
· Setting up the header, loading logos and header images
· Setting up a very basic navigation structure, to be fleshed out as development continues and throughout content migration
· Setting up page templates, such as the Home Page and Blog Page. Often clients may request different set ups and templates (i.e. different sidebars, extra content areas) for services or about pages.
· Implementing basic plugins to populate sidebars and footers and for use during content migration, as well as use during future content updates including blog posts .
· Implementing design elements, styling content areas, adding images, etc.
We can create a WordPress site that keeps the same design and style of your html site. It will not be 100% the same unless you want to spend a lot of money to have the css built from the ground up. You can either choose your WordPress theme and we can customize the colors to match or we can use a theme of our choosing according to what we feel would best fit the design.
Step 3: Content Migration
This is the most critical step in the process, and a step during which we will need you to be extra vigilant and responsive. Migrating content from an HTML site into WordPress is not as simple as a copy & paste. HTML websites often have a lot of extra, unnecessary or inefficient code that does not fit well within the clean, styled structure of your new or converted design. We will ask you regularly to check on content that has been migrated to check for integrity of the content as well as to ensure that you are pleased with the style and look of the content.
Depending on the scope of the project, content migration includes:
· Migration of all main page & post content. The list of pages & posts to come over will be detailed during the information gathering period.
· Migration of sidebar content, and/or updating this content with new WordPress functionality, as defined in the scope of the project
· Migration of footer information
· Migration of images, and, where necessary, updating image links to avoid broken images
· Migration of navigation structure, unless a new structure has been decided upon, in which case, content will be migrated over and modified where necessary to fit within the new navigation hierarchy.
Step 4: Project Launch
Completing & launching the project is not as simple as activating our new WordPress theme. Oh, I wish it were! This can be the most stressful part of an HTML to WordPress migration.
During the project launch, I will ensure that your host is ready to accept a WordPress installation. If you haven’t selected a host, I can recommend a hosting plan based upon your business needs and budget.
On the selected launch date, typically in the evening to ensure that any down time takes place during a quiet period for your website, I will prepare the Sandbox installation (an exact duplicate of how your site will appear live on your domain) to move to your new host. This usually involves a large number of files being transferred via FTP as well as migration of the website’s database. We also set up any necessary redirects at this time.
Whenever possible, I will transfer all the necessary files & database tables to your host prior to “switching” the site – in this way, we minimize down time as much as possible.
Once all files are in place, I will make the necessary changes to the DNS nameservers, which will result in anywhere from 2 to 48 hours of down time for your site. This time varies greatly and depends entirely upon how quickly DNS changes propogate across the internet. Accessibility to the website will also be affected by location in the world (for US sites, US visitors will see DNS changes faster than visitors overseas) and also individual user internet access (ISPs refresh DNS caches at different times). I find that domains purchased through GoDaddy have a must faster DNS resolution – sometimes nearly instantaneous.
Step 5: Check, Check and Double Check
There are a lot of moving parts to a website, and even more during a website transition. Changing the platform of a website is involved, and is hectic for all involved! I will have gone over the sandbox website with you in detail prior to the move, however it is critical that the live site is checked and toured thoroughly to ensure that no additional changes need to be made.
We often recommend the use of a “changing room” or “landing page” theme temporarily while we inspect all elements of the website to ensure that each page is up to our standards before officially re-opening the website to visitors.
It seems like a lot. To be very honest, it actually is! Remember, DPK Graphic Design is ready to take it on. We are well versed in moving sites from HTML to WordPress. You are in safe hands. This guide serves to be a comprehensive overview of the process so that there are no surprises – which should translate into a little less anxiety for you!
If you have any questions, you may contact us at any point during the project. While we always endeavor to clearly define the scope of the project, at the start, there are often times when clients need to stop and re-evaluate their business needs. For that reason, this is an interactive process, with multiple “checkpoints” for your approval and guidance.
Here is another example of our WordPress design work in moving a regular html website over to wordpress.