Over the years we have seen business after business and blog after blog starting to convert their HTML websites to WordPress. You may be curious as to why people are making this conversion and the answer is simple. However, I am not going to tell you that it is easy. The process actually requires a great deal of work but it is not difficult. The key with such a conversion is to pay close attention and have a process.
Why are people choosing WordPress?
WordPress is fairly easy to learn. It has what is called a CMS (content management system) and this means that you don’t have to know how to write code to use it. Over 20% of the worlds websites are now built on WP.
There are countless free resources for how to use it, such as our blog here. There are over 30,000 plugins for WP and a great deal of those are free. While it was built as a blogging tool, it can easily be converted to a website.
What is a Plugin? A plugin is a piece of software that you can easily install on your WordPress website or blog. Go to the plugin depository and you will see all of the choices that you will have for your blog: https://wordpress.org/plugins/.
What is required?
You will need hosting and a domain name. WordPress is free software. When you are picking a host for your business website, make sure that they have 1 click WordPress install. Also, note that there are quite a few hosting companies these days that specialize in hosting WP websites. These hosting companies are often more expensive but they do offer speedy hosting.
It is often recommended that you purchase your domain from one company and your hosting from another. The reason for this is because if one company suddenly shuts down, you have access to part of your product.
If you do this, you will need to point your domain. When you sign up for hosting ask them what the name servers are. When you have that information go back to where your domain name is being held and enter your new name servers. This process is called propagation and it may take up to 48 hours before you are able to see your website.
Sometimes you can find some really great coupons for hosting companies here.
WordPress Theme Selection
Choosing a theme for your WordPress site can be one of the most challenging and fun parts of building a website. There are a lot of choices out there but we strongly recommend that you choose a premium theme. You will want to consider the the type of business niche that you are trying to design around.
Some of the top WordPress theme developers on the market are Thesis Theme, Genesis Theme, Thrive Themes and ThemeForest. This site is built using Genesis Theme and we highly recommend them.
Here are a few websites that are also built using Studio Press Themes:
The Underdog site was built using the Modern Studio Theme. This is a versatile theme that is perfect for artist, studios and anyone who wants to show off beautiful images.
The Thera Clinic was built on the original Genesis Theme and then customized from there. This is one of the wonderful things about Studio Press (Genesis) is that it is easily customized. You are not locked into a specific plug and play design.
This blog about candy of the month clubs is using the Thrive Theme Focus. This theme is a nice and speedy theme but it is a bit more difficult to customize. However, it is clearly fine for someone wanting to blog a bit about how much they love candy. Of the best features of this company is their support.
One of the highest rated Theme Forest Themes on the market is called Sugar. Theme Forest is wonderful because it is a market place for many different developers. This provides for an extreme variety of choices and this is great news. However, the downside of this is that you have to be very careful and we highly recommend that you read the reviews before you purchase. We have seen in the past that support can be an issue.
If you run across a website that you love and are curious what WordPress Theme that they are using then you can use this free tool: http://whatwpthemeisthat.com/
What Plugins should you use?
While the answer to this question does vary by need, there is a list of most used and most common plugins.
A sitemap helps crawlers such as Bing discover the pages on your website easier. This will help you get on the first page and found better.
This plugin is free and extremely helpful. It is critical that you know who is searching your site and where they are coming from. This plugin will allow you to see this kind of information directly on your WordPress dashboard.
This plugin is built by the company that created WordPress and it has a lot of goodies built right in. For example, they have a related post plugin that works well and comes quite in handy. We will be installing this plugin ourselves as we grow the content on this blog.
If you don’t feel as though your website is running as fast as it should, then you may want to give this plugin a whirl. It can help speed up your site by caching the data. This is a complicated way of saying that it will make your website run faster.
How do you migrate your content?
We call this process screen scraping. Often times, if we are hired to build your website, we will actually spend time copying and pasting the content from your old site to a notepad. We will then copy and paste that information into your new WordPress website. This is actually the most time consuming part of moving a blog.
This is the stage when you will want to decide on your navigation and page structure. As archaic as it may sound, we recommend that you pull out a piece of paper and sketch out your desired navigation. You may decide that you want to remove pages or even add pages. Spend some time thinking about the order of the nav and what should be first and last (those are the two most clicked items on a nav).
What should you know?
Logos are important. Due to the new modern website designs, responsive and mobile, the requirements for logos have changed as well. It is possible that you will have some trouble in this arena, if you have an old logo. This may be a good time to have your logo design refreshed. Most logos need to be a rectangle shape instead of a box.
I hope that the resources in this post have been helpful to you and that you decide to migrate your website to WordPress. What other plugins or themes would you recommend?