26.4% of websites on the internet run on WordPress CMS, making it one of the most popular publishing platforms in the market. The reason behind this dominance is the outstanding versatility that makes WordPress compatible with a variety of sites, including personal blogs, small business websites and established sites such as Forbes and Sony Music.
If you are planning to migrate your site to WordPress, you have made the right choice. The reality is that most designers, developers and administrators prefer WordPress over other content management systems such as Joomla, Drupal, Magneto, and Alfresco.
Many people consider WordPress (WP) as the most straightforward web publishing platform in the market. The ease of use spreads across all elements, from the backend and installation process to the CMS management. It has an intuitive interface that is friendly to beginners. Even better, most content authors are familiar with WP. If they are not, it is easy to learn.
Another advantage of WP is the countless customisation options. You have the freedom to create new or modify existing themes to add a personal touch to your site. The platform has all the tools you need to make your website unique.
The most significant advantage from a business perspective is that Google favours WP. It is easy to implement on-page SEO on WP sites using the numerous dedicated plugins. Moreover, the WP blog component makes it easy to add content that is visible to search engine crawlers.
How to Move Your Site to WordPress CMS
Here is the procedure you should follow to move your website to the WordPress CMS.
Evaluate Your Current Website
Before anything, check the status of your current website. Ensure that there are no error pages, broken links and navigation issues. You must fix any sections with such errors before the migration process.
Nothing succeeds without a practical plan. After evaluating your site, you will need to decide whether you will retain your current domain or create a new one. You should also plan to redirect your old URLs after migration, as the process always changes their structure.
Another aspect to keep in mind is how you will integrate third-party services to your new website. It is crucial to see if WordPress has the necessary plugins to support search services.
Most people change their web hosting provider after migrating to WordPress. Make sure that your web host supports WordPress before initiating the process.
Backup Your Site
As a precaution, you should always backup your existing site. If you have reservations over what you are doing, do not attempt to migrate your site.
If you are not familiar with WordPress, it is advisable to get a tutorial and learn the basics.
Setting up WordPress
Setting up WordPress is a straightforward process, even for a novice. There are two options – installing WordPress locally or with your hosting provider.
Installing WordPress Locally
Firstly, you will need a specialised server software. You can download the XAMPP windows installer from here.
After the download is complete, run the file to install the software. If a warning prompt appears, click ‘Yes’ to continue with the installation. You should then see the standard installer screen after clicking the prompt.
Click “next” to continue.
On the following screen, you will choose the components to install. Select Apache, MySQL, PHP, and phpMyAdmin.
The next step involves choosing the installation folder. Always leave it at the default.
After clicking next, ignore the prompt that asks you to install Bitnami. The installation process should start, and it will take a few minutes.
Once the installation is complete, click “Finish” to launch the XAMPP control panel. Start both Apache and MySQL, as they are mandatory if you want to install WordPress. Once they are running, their status should turn green.
This means that you should now be able to test your local server — type in http://localhost/ in your preferred web browser.
Now that you have a functional XAMPP server, the next phase is installing WordPress. First, you need to open wordpress.org and download the latest version of WordPress.
Navigate to the folder where you installed XAMPP. By default, it should be C: //xampp. In that folder, locate a subfolder named htdocs.
In the htdocs folder, create a new folder. Its name will be useful in accessing your site. For instance, if you call it testsite, you will access the site by typing http://localhost/testsite.
Once you create the folder, extract the contents of the folder downloaded from WordPress into it.
Now, all you need is a MySQL database for your WordPress site. Launch phpMyAdmin from your XAMPP control panel.
Click on the Databases tab at the top.
Enter a name for your database and click Create. Ensure that you remember the name.
When you visit your testsite using a web browser, you should see the standard WordPress installer.
The only difference with the regular installation is that you need to enter database details. In the Database Name field, enter the name you created in the step above. In the Username field, enter ‘root’. The Password field should remain blank.
Once you hit the Submit button, your WordPress site should be up and running.
For alternative installation methods, read this guide.
Installing WordPress with a Web Host
This is a straightforward process, as most service providers offer a one-click installation option.
Unlike setting up WP, this is a bit intricate, but you should be able to do it. Importing your old content to a new site depends on several factors.
If your current site runs on a content management system, you might have access to an importing tool. Find the tool and start the migration process. If your website runs on a CMS but lacks an importing tool, it is advisable to seek assistance from your backend developer.
For a site without CMS, you have to import the content manually using copy and paste functions. It should take a few hours if you run a small site. However, if you run a website with a high volume of content, it may take days or even weeks, depending on your speed.
When importing content manually, ensure that you use ‘Paste as Plain Text’ button or paste into the ‘Text’ side. This prevents you from transferring your old formatting into your new WP site. Keep in mind that you will need re-upload images and format the new content.
It is crucial to keep a log of all new and existing URLs. You will have to edit old URLs to maintain your SEO rankings and avoid the proliferation of broken links on your new site.
Designing Your WordPress Site
After migrating your content to the WordPress CMS, the next step is enhancing the appearance of the website. There are several options on this front, including developing a theme from scratch, downloading a theme and modifying an existing theme. You can also convert your existing template into a WP theme.
The easiest method is identifying a suitable theme and installing it. If you bare a beginner, you might find it challenging to develop your custom theme. Once you get a theme, you can add functionality to your site by installing WordPress plugins.
WordPress has an excellent plugin engine that offers plenty of options to add new features to your site. There are free and premium options, and you can also build yours and sell it on the platform. The plugins you choose depend on the nature of your site and your personal preferences.
Ensure that you install plugins from reputable sources. Poorly-designed plugins can slow down your website, which is bad for SEO.
As mentioned earlier, URLs lose their original structure when you migrate into a new site. Broken links are not only inconveniencing, but they also affect the user experience on your website.
You can easily edit old URLs using plugins such as the Redirection plugin and Simple 301 Redirect. After editing, confirm that all your links are working using the Broken Link Checker WP plugin.
Alternatively, you can edit the links manually by editing the .htacess file. If your site has many pages, this process can be tedious. Nevertheless, if you think you can hack it, here is the procedure.
Pointing Your Current Domain to the New Website
There is no point of migrating your site if nobody will ever see the new one. If your site runs on a separate domain or a different web host, you have to update your name servers for the domain name. If you use a third-party content delivery network, you have to update your DNS records.
Before publishing your new WP website online, confirm that all sections have the proper formatting, all the features are running, and all links are functional. Remember to set up your permalinks, analytics and make your site discoverable by search engines.
Migrating your site to WordPress CMS is one of the wisest decisions you will ever make. If you are yet to join the platform, do it now! Get in touch with us for more tips about WordPress CMS and design in Singapore.