When web design was conceived, websites were created using text and static HTML. There was nothing like a content management system. When you needed to make any change, you had to rewrite huge chunks of code. Years later, the web design game has evolved.
Consequently, the introduction of content management systems (CMS) is a game changer for website design. CMS are great platforms offering you awesome features. WordPress is one such system. With WordPress being the easiest and most popular CMS, it’s no wonder people are jumping on this bandwagon on a daily basis.
You might have a couple of reasons why you want to migrate your HTML site to WordPress. The major setback, however, are the problems you think you might encounter. Does it mean you have to start all over? Will all the time and energy that you put into developing the current site go to waste? Well, no. Walk with me.
When a visitor loads your page, the browser takes all pieces and bits (images, server side data, etc.) and stores them in a final static HTML page. Even if some of the elements are still dynamic, the code itself is stored in one spot and moved into a WordPress page easily.
Below are two economical methods that I picked to help you migrate your website into the WordPress system.
This method might seem rather indulging and time consuming on your part, especially if you are new to WordPress, but it is worth every second. It has been broken down into four steps:
1. Study WordPress
What do I mean by study WordPress? Well, as I said earlier WordPress is the most popular CMS out here and people are still adopting it. If you joined us recently or are intending to, do feel welcome. You will definitely fall head over heels in love with the auspicious WordPress platform. Having said that, it is best to familiarize yourself with WordPress before embarking on the migration journey.
Why do I say this? WordPress is a platform loaded with a lot of features, plugins and themes. Studying all these features and the mechanism with which they interact with each other will not only equip you with skills to develop the best of designs, but also will help you to easily test and migrate your website. We cover testing and its benefits later on in this article.
2. Assess the Functionalities
Intimately understand your website. This will help you evaluate the features that you need in a WordPress platform. As a result, when time comes for you to migrate, you will be able to pick plugins that supports the different features from your old website.
3. Assess the Navigation
What is navigation?
Navigation is the process of exploring pages or tabs in a website with a desire to gather information or out of curiosity. The navigation of a website is a huge determinant on its success or failure. It affects the SEO rating and the traffic into the website.
With this in mind, it is good to evaluate the needs of your current website’s internal links. WordPress has plenty of navigation options (read menus and widgets) that can support your various needs. You can easily take advantage of the extra features in WordPress and mold an improved navigation system.
There is one major thing to consider here. How complex is your old website?
If it is a static or simple HTML page, the best option is to copy and paste. How? You are probably wondering. Create corresponding pages on your WordPress site and upload relevant content (files, images, etc.) to these pages. Then, use the many WordPress plugins available to reinstate your website functionality.
However, if your website contains a lot of pages, using a WordPress import plugin would be the best idea. There are free plugins that allow you to import HTML page content while ignoring footers, headers and sidebars that you don’t want to import.
A few import plugins we’d recommend include:
HTML Import 2 is a well-known plugin for this task. It will help you migrate the content of your website with ease. However, this plugin is just for importing. It will not help you retain the formatting styles that were incorporated in your old website.
A bit (okay a lot) easier than the first method, you can skip the hard part and use a service instead.
Use a Theme Matcher
If you want to retain the previous layout (formatting styles) make use of a theme matcher. Enter your websites address, generate it, select an area for your WordPress content and finally download your theme. Sounds simple huh? This method will work best if your former site had a simple layout. Visit theme matcher to learn more.
Of course if you want a truly custom solution you will need to hire a freelance developer, but for simple or single page websites, the theme matcher is a viable option.
This is the most crucial part when you are done migrating your website. Do some testing to make sure everything went as planned.
Navigate your new website and check for:
- Broken links, if any. Use a broken link checker for huge websites
- How images are loading and if they are loading
- How the content is being displayed
- Check to see if tabs, buttons and if other functionalities are working correctly
- Install necessary plugins
When you are darn sure that everything is working as it was supposed to, it is time for you to launch your “new” website.
The crux of this whole matter is for you to decide whether or not it is fun to migrate your HTML site to WordPress. By all means, WordPress offers you a lot of website development power all of it squeezed in an easy to use CMS.
After all is said and done, don’t forget to improve the layout of your design after migration. After all, what is the use of all that customization power if you are not going to put it into good use? Before I forget, remember to redirect your WordPress links. There are great redirect plugins available in WordPress.