I received the following question via our Facebook page and I thought it would be a good one to address publically
I had an HTML membership site that was made in Dreamweaver and someone told me I should revamp and use wordpress. They signed me up to Wpengine and got a premium woo theme as well as plugins – Instamember, Pretty link & Hybrid Connect, and then disappeared and I had no idea what to do next. So I started googling advice and found I couldn’t just transfer my html to wordpress so it’s just been sitting there for about 5 mths and I pay wpengine $33/mth. I have a HTML website so now I’m wondering if I can use the wordpress blog install with that host instead of wpengine. I see in cpanel after I click on fantastico that there is Joomla under content management tab or wordpress under blog tab.
Whilst it’s upsetting and annoying, this is not an uncommon situation.
HTML to WordPress
Transferring a HTML site to WordPress isn’t necessarily straight forward – but it’s not impossible. If you want the new WordPress site to look exactly like your existing HTML site, this process generally requires someone who understands HTML and how to code a WordPress theme.
If you want a WordPress site that looks similar to your existing site, but not the same AND you have the appropriate graphics – then you may be able to find an appropriate WordPress theme and customise it yourself. Be prepared to spend a bit of time learning your new theme and the intricacies of customising WordPress.
Copying The Content
When converting your HTML website to a WordPress website you need to physically transfer the content so it appears within WordPress infrastructure.
Depending on how much content you have, it’s typically easier to pay someone (or for you to do this) to copy and paste the content over; import images and media files; and relink everything.
The biggest thing to consider when you copy the content over, is that you need to make sure existing links are ‘mapped’ to the new links. When you transfer a HTML site to a WordPress website, your urls’ (or web addresses) for each page will change. Keep a list of all the ‘old’ url’s as you transfer the content and before launching your new site, set up redirects for the old url’s so visitors don’t receive 404 (or page not found) errors …. I use the Redirection plugin to achieve this.
The WordPress plugins you choose to use are entirely dependent on the functionality your site requires. Before you decide on which plugins you want to use, make sure you know the functionality you need to replicate first.
Many new WordPress site owners get enamoured with the ‘shiny’ new plugins they can use but don’t think about the overheads and load that is placed on a website by the overuse, or misuse, of plugins. Equally as important, be sure that you aren’t adding plugins that duplicate functionality. Whilst there is no golden rule about ‘how many ‘ plugins you should have on your site more often than not, less is more.
Free Vs Premium plugins
I’m pretty ambivalent about whether you should use a free plugin or paid plugin. There are many, many great free plugins and the plugin developers provide awesome support and I use these with great regularity. There are times that I’ve found paying for a plugin has saved me a lot of angst. Premium Plugins that I recommend include:
- Backup Buddy (for backup)
- Gravity Forms (for Form Creation and management)
- Wishlist Member (if you want to do a membership site)
However, I generally start a site with least number of plugins that I can and add as needed.
Where To Host The Site
The question I was asked mentioned they were currently hosting their site at WPEngine. WPEngine is a dedicated WordPress hosting business – you get your site and they do most of the ongoing heavy lifting (back ups, restores etc).
There are other hosting options available as well and if (like the person asking the question above) you already have a hosting account, you may be able to add WordPress to your existing account. There are a two main things to consider.
Does your hosting platform support WordPress?
Most hosting providers do and some provide an ‘easy install’ function (like Fantastico) so you literally point and click to install it. If there isn’t a point and click install process, it’s possible that you can manually install WordPress. It’s best to check with your hosting provider whether or not you can install WordPress but the requirements to run WordPress can be found here.
Is the hosting platform appropriate for a WordPress website
Just because a hosting provider will allow WordPress to run doesn’t mean that WordPress will run well. Some providers limit the amount of RAM (random access memory) available to their customers for their websites and this can have a rather negative impact on the operation and performance of your WordPress website. Not all webhosts are created equal and you need to be sure that who you choose will step up to the challenge.
Transferring your HTML website to WordPress just because you can may not be the most appropriate thing to do. However, I do recommend you seriously consider doing so… by moving your website to a Content Management System (which is really what WordPress is), you’ll be able to more easily manage and add content. No more worrying about editing HTML!
I feel that you would be better served using the opportunity to give your website a face lift and improve the visitor experience of your website. You don’t need to start from scratch but you can freshen things up and take advantage of any of the new techniques and tactics that have been developed since you first developed your site.
I recommend that you
- Create a list of what you don’t like about your current site
- Look at websites and find things you like (make sure you document why you like them)
- Look at where you might be loosing visitors or not converting them to clients
- Document features that you wish you had, but don’t
This will allow you to create a Statement of Requirement that you can either start (re)building the site yourself or take to a developer and ask for a quote.
This is the perfect opportunity to take a good look at your online presence and bring it up to date!