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Migrate Your Website to a WordPress CMS Setup

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Fresh Tilled Soil has recently seen an increase in requests for website migrations to WordPress. Companies have been asking us to take their existing website and migrate to a WordPress CMS set-up.

Q: I want to maintain the current design from a visual perspective as much as possible but make it much easier to use and manage. Is that possible?

Yes. WordPress has a vast amount of content management capabilities that can be used as leverage to make it easier for you to manage your website and publish your content. Often times this involves leveraging plugins developed by the community, or even creating custom plugins to suite the unique needs of your unique requirements. In 99% of the cases you can maintain and sometimes improve your existing design. The other 1% includes designs that are driven by flash and XML, or complex cases where the budget to re-create a setup in WordPress doesn’t currently exist.

Q: Can you re-use the code from my existing website?

You can, but you may be recommend not to do so. Depending on your existing setup, there may be way to re-use some of the code, however more often than not the websites that migrate aren’t completely up to standards with some of the best practices for coding. Often times it’s actually more productive for to start over. This will usually result in faster changes in the future, and can avoid unexpected issues with older code.

Q: I have worked hard to get where I am in Google. Can I maintain the SEO ranking that I currently hold if I migrate to WordPress?

99% of the time, yes. When you re-design or re-build your website it’s important to recognize the existing site structure and how it has been indexed by search engines. When we re-build a website, we suggest taking the time to audit your entire existing website URL’s and generate a file that manages “301 Redirects” or permanent redirects on your new website.

With this setup anyone that visits a page from your old website will automatically be redirected to the new location.

Depending on how optimized your existing website is it may take more or less time to get the new WordPress website functioning the same in terms of SEO modules, plugins and optimizations. Occasionally you may encounter an existing setup where the SEO setup is on steroids, so we need to juice up our efforts to match up.

Q: Can you help improve the way my website is accessed by search engine spiders and robots?

Yes. Out of the box WordPress is a great system to use for solid SEO. It’s important to optimize the “permalink” or URL structure of your new site to use search engine friendly URL’s (e.g. www.company.com/services/business-development). You maby even want to add a metadata management tool that will automatically provide Title and Description tags throughout your website. You can control your Title and Description tags on a page-by-page basis using the All in One SEO plugin.

Be sure to include a dynamically generated XML sitemap for search engines like Google and Yahoo! to keep up to date with changes to your new site, easily and quickly. With these two approaches in place it doesn’t take long for your site to update on search engine results pages.

Q: Can you help me improve the ease of maintenance and reduce maintenance costs?

99% of the time, Yes. This depends on how easy it currently is to do things, and what the current maintenance costs are. Every system has it’s costs to maintain, and WordPress is no expection. When you choose a managed WordPress hosting pakage it may or may not handle all of the core WordPress upgrades and plugin upgrades for you at a price, so be sure to ask the appropriate questions.

It generally comes down to how technical your website manager is. If they’re new to WordPress and have a lot of questions, the cost is will be higher than a seasoned WordPress publisher. It usually comes down to the complexity of your system, and the knowledge and experience of your website manager or team.

Q: I’m already using WordPress to power my blog, is it easy to transfer all of my information and settings into the new CMS?

Yes. WordPress has a great import/export system that works well for 90% of the cases we see. Depending on whether you’re using WordPress.com or a self-hosted WordPress installation, it may take extra time to preserve some of the designs and customizations you currently have in place. That said it’s typically not difficult to merge your existing blog into your new CMS setup.

Q: From your professional point of view, what are the advantages of using WordPress as a CMS?

In general the largest benefits include:

  1. Search engine marketing and optimization benefits
  2. Extendability through plugins
  3. Choosing a standard platform for future extendability
  4. Leverage free support from one of the largest open source communities online
  5. Research improvements of your site easily as WordPress is one of the largest open source publishing platforms around

Q: Will there be compromises to my existing design in order to fit into the WordPress theming structure?

No. In many cases various customizations that involve plugins and theme development using languages like PHP/MySQL/CSS/XHTML/JS/jQuery will be implemented that will create a custom solution. This allows you to customize a system that matches your existing design entirely. Occasionally there are small cross platform issues that come up with your existing design or website setup, but since if you’re working with a design firm they can make suggestions to help improve your website with your new system.

Q: I’ve been told WordPress is a poor content management option, and is primarily just for blogging. Is this true?

No. WordPress stand-alone can easily be turned into a powerful content management system that stands up to any other open source platform out there. Many developers are skeptical and overly critical of this because of existing Bias or past experience with the platform. Everyone is opinionated, but WordPress can be used for a content managed website, simply because it helps businesses improve their online content management experience.

Q: What features could be hard to support when transferring to a WordPress powered website?

Things can occasionally get complex when you have:

  1. User driven content or membership setups.
  2. eCommerce or online payment processing can also be time consuming to transfer.
  3. A very large site with over 10,000 database entries total, or over 10,000 unique page views per day. Sometimes setup’s like this need extra care during migration to ensure that all of that information is properly transferred and optimized within WordPress. Generally it’s something we can handle by programming a few custom database migration scripts and extra time is usually needed.
  4. Specific access requirements with various roles needed for editing specific sections of your site. This is something we can handle, but it generally involves added time.
  5. Customized, out of the box solutions. These can often be time consuming to replicate. Generally there is a plugin or functionality in WordPress to handle your custom content needs, but occasionally we need to spend time programming a new method to manage things and that can take added time.

Q: I’m interested in learning more, how do I get started?

Common migration request’s:

  • Migrate from Drupal to WordPress
  • Migrate from Joomla to WordPress
  • Migrate from Movable Type to WordPress
  • Migrate from Proprietary CMS to WordPress
  • Migrate from TYPO3 to WordPress
  • Migrate from Pligg to WordPress
  • Migrate from Blogger to WordPress

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Product Hero Talin Wadsworth