The Ultimate Guide to Migrating Your Website to WordPress VIP
Migrating an enterprise website is daunting and sometimes scary, but it doesn’t have to be. Throughout this guide and our WordPress migration checklist, we cover everything you need to know before you start migrating your website to WordPress VIP, including:
By the end, you’ll feel confident about what content you’re migrating and how, what the migration process entails, which features to consider for your new CMS, and how to overcome common challenges like a lack of internal resources and determining site integrations.
But, first things first: determining the type of website migration.
The type of website migration
Before you can begin the migration planning process, you’ll need to confirm what type of migration you’re facilitating.
WordPress → WordPress VIP (Full Site)
If you’re currently using WordPress for your enterprise website and moving to WordPress VIP, you can export your existing site’s database and media and use the WordPress VIP command-line interface (CLI) to import it to your new site. This method is especially useful for larger sites.
For smaller sites, a manual migration (copy and pasting content from your old site to the new one) is also an option. Or, you can use a partner agency to help with the content transfer. Manual migration is more time-consuming, but can help prevent issues, errors, duplications, etc., and also saves time during the review process.
Non-WordPress CMS → WordPress VIP (Full Site)
If you’re using anything other than WordPress for your current CMS, you can migrate manually by having your internal team or agency copy and paste content from your existing site to your new WordPress VIP site.
For sites with large amounts of content, we recommend seeking an export tool or software designed to convert databases between different content management systems.
Blog Migration → WordPress VIP
If you’re not quite ready to do a full-site migration, hosting just your blog on WordPress VIP is also an option. You’ll still receive the full host of CMS and analytics capabilities for that content.
VIP TIP: If you’re migrating a site that updates multiple times a day, or hosts large amounts of user-generated content, we recommend using an application programming interface (API) to sync the content from your existing site to the new WordPress VIP site.
The website migration process
Before organizing a project timeline, it’s important to understand what to expect during the website migration process. The timeline for each migration varies on a case-by-case basis depending on the scope of the project, size of the site(s), complexity of the content, required stakeholder approvals, etc.
It may look something like this:
- Project plan and content audit: Before the actual migration can begin, your team will need to fully scope out the project and audit your internal information architecture for content. Flesh out what content you’re moving or discarding, how you want to restructure the content, etc.
- Establish an RFP: If you plan to use a third-party agency for assisting with the migration, you’ll start the RFP process and choose your preferred partner.
- Technical audit: Decide what technical features are needed on your new site. If you’re moving from WordPress, you may have outdated plugins or themes.
- Migrating the content: Whether you’re migrating manually or through an automatic import tool, this is the most important step in the process. Dot your i’s and cross your t’s before beginning the content transfer to prevent mistakes.
- Quality assurance and review: After all of your content is on the new site, check each piece to ensure nothing is out of place. Are all your links working? Are there any duplicates? This step is painstaking but crucial to a successful launch.
- Launch: Once everything is good to go, set an official go-live date and time.
Each migration looks a little different because it’s tailored to your specific use case. That’s why it’s important for you to have a solid understanding of each piece of your website puzzle—like features and integrations—before you start.
Website format and functionality
As you meet with your team to discuss your new website wishlist, consider the following:
- Site format
- Domains and URLs
- Plugins and integrations
- Site performance
- Content analytics
- Internal resources and support
With the flexible format of WordPress VIP, you can choose a custom model—single stack, headless, or hybrid—to establish a website that looks and feels exactly how you want, and even move between models as your business needs change.
You’ll also want to establish whether you’re using a single site or a multisite, which enables a single WordPress instance in a database to host more than one site, and for each of those sites to be mapped to a unique domain. WordPress VIP can accommodate both setups and move between them if needed. For example, you can start with independent single sites and merge them into a multisite at a later date.
Using a multisite streamlines your development if you’re managing multiple sites with similar functionalities. Because you only have to update plugins once rather than for each site, you can reduce the time and cost spent on hosting. However, if you have multiple development teams for independent sites, or want to prevent certain vendors or teams from accessing some of your code, a single site setup might make more sense.
Domains and URLs
During migration, we’ll establish a convenience domain for your site(s). Once you’re ready for launch, you’ll switch to your final domain. If you’re just moving your blog, you’ll need a subdomain or a subdirectory to tie the new site to your main platform.
Since WordPress uses full URLs in its database, each internal site link will need to be searched and replaced before launch, which is done easily with the Launch tool in the VIP Dashboard.
VIP TIP: Doing an information architecture overhaul? Be sure to get 301 redirects in place before you launch so you don’t disrupt your site and SEO performance. Plugins like Yoast SEO can help with content optimization and URL paths.
Plugins and integrations
WordPress VIP allows you to use any plugin you choose, including an expansive library of options made available by our Technology Partners. Our automated scanning allows you to assess a given plugin’s security and performance before you incorporate it into your site.
With WordPress VIP, many crucial functions—like security, caching, and dynamic image sizing—are already built into the platform, so be sure to note any others you might need. Not sure what plugins to use? Our consultative support process can help.
What types of network security do you need? Do you require data encryption or multifactor authentication? WordPress VIP offers enterprise-grade WordPress security so you never have to worry about protecting your data. Cybersecurity needs also play a role in your content migration, so list any concerns you have.
With digital content becoming increasingly important, site performance and reliability are crucial. Have you had long load times in the past? How is your site search functionality?
Note any site performance issues important to your team that may need to be resolved during migration. WordPress VIP performs automatic health checks and recovery to ensure top performance across your site, but you may want to incorporate plugins to optimize SEO, assist with site searches, etc.
What content analytics do you want to measure, and why? Consider your current content goals and how you can improve even further through your website migration. Metrics like content conversions, total engagement, social shares, and content ROI should be on your list.
Measuring content ROI is a difficult task for marketers, but WordPress VIP offers access to a full suite of performance analytics through Parse.ly to make your job easier.
Internal resources and support
One of the biggest roadblocks during the migration is a lack of time, resources, enterprise development skills, and internal bandwidth. In that case, consider using a WordPress VIP-approved agency partner to assist with the migration, integrations, and design.
The WordPress VIP team, along with our agency partners, can assist during each step of the migration process, including planning.
Once you’re confident you have the full wishlist for your new CMS, it’s time to sit down and start the planning process with your team using our website migration checklist. As you meet, you should discuss your goals, the type of migration (including manual or automatic), whether you’re using a third-party agency, the challenges and roadblocks you may face, etc.
If you have additional questions about what the migration process will look like for your company, reach out to our WordPress VIP support team.