We made the decision in January to migrate our website to a WordPress installation, which is the CMS of choice for most blogs.
This posed a big challenge, mainly because we had been using our in-house CMS to publish content for the past 2 years, meaning our content was tied up in a difficult-to-export format.
Still, it allowed me to dig into the nifty and well-developed world of WordPress. My magic formula for a WordPress migration, in a nutshell:
- Export your old blog as something WordPress can understand.
- Hack at the theme until your site is beautiful.
- Don’t break your URL’s.
1. Export your blog
Depending on how you are blogging already, you may be able to save an export which can be loaded into WordPress with a plugin (see Importing Content on the WordPress wiki).
We were not in this lucky category, so I delved into the WXR (WordPress eXtended RSS) format. This example file was a big help, and I wrote up a short PHP script to create a similar-looking file from my blog.
2. Hack at the theme
We adapted our site from the ‘Skittlish’ theme, which has also been ported to WordPress. Every theme carries some baggage, so I highly suggest rolling up your sleeves and opening wp-content/themes on your blog.
All non-feature modifications are done in WordPress via themes, so keep tweaking it until you’re happy, or get a designer to put together a theme that suits your needs.
3. Don’t break your URL’s
I link between blog posts a lot, and breaking these links would be mind-numbing to clean up after (and a SEO sin). Using the import method above, I used article titles which matched the old permalinks.
WordPress then lets you configure permalinks to use this field, replicating the old behavior and keeping everybody happy.
If you run WordPress on your site, then it makes sense to have somebody on your team who really knows how it works.
If your initial setup is not handled with care, then you could end up wasting several days of work checking old content for errors.