Changing Your HTML Website to WordPress

Posted on Jun 14, 2012

Or Re-designing Your Current WordPress Website: The Perfect Time to Change to ClickHOST

by Judi Knight of New Tricks, Atlanta

Are you ready to change your current static website to a WordPress website? Or maybe you already have a WordPress website but you want to do a redesign without disturbing your current website. In either case it is a perfect time to make a change to ClickHOST.

1. Best Strategy

When changing your static website to WordPress or doing a redesign of a current WordPress website, and you want to change web hosts, the least disruptive approach is to leave your current website live where it is and build the new website on your new ClickHOST account.

Your domain name will continue to point to your current website until your new website is ready to go live. ClickHOST will give you an IP address for you to use to access your new website. You will build the new website live, but you can prevent it from being seen by others or accessed by search engines. To do so go to ‘Settings’ from your WordPress dashboard, and choose ‘Privacy’, then select ‘Ask search engines not to index this site’. To be extra sure that your content does get searched, despite your use of the privacy setting, you may also want to upload and activate the ‘Maintenance Mode’ plugin.

2. New WordPress Install

If you are changing a static html website to a WordPress website you will start with a new install of WordPress on your new hosting account and you will cut and paste your old content into the new website. If you are redoing your existing WordPress website and it is damaged or nothing to write home about, you may also want to start with a clean installation. If you have content on the old website you can export it and import it into the new website.

3. Mirror website Method

If your existing WordPress website is sound, other than needing a design change, you can make a mirror image of your existing website on the new hosting account using the Backup Buddy Plugin (or you can ask the friendly ClickHOST support team to transfer your files). Having a mirror copy of your website will allow you to change and customize your theme without disturbing the traffic to your actual website.

4. Setting Up Your New Website

a. Configure Your Settings

People are often so anxious to get started on customizing a new website they often fail to go configure their settings causing problems down the road. In General Settings, the website Title and Description are important to search engines and should be filled in. The time must be set for your location so if later you schedule your posts they will go out when you think they should.

Permalinks are the actual Internet address of each of your pages and posts. WordPress gives you control over how they are configured so that the url is not http://yourdomainname.com/abunchofnumbers. If you are creating a new website you can set up the format of your links to pages and posts so that they are readable such as: http://yourdomainname.com/yourpostorpage name. If you already have a WordPress website that you are importing your old content from, you must use the existing permalink format of your previous website on your new website before doing the import.

b. Know The Difference in Pages and Posts

Before you move content from your static html website into your new WordPress website, you should know the difference between Pages and Posts. In a WordPress website static content is entered as a Page, such as your About, Services or Contact Page content. Your blog content will be entered in as Posts but also, if any content is something that you may have multiples of and could be categorized, such with Portfolio items or Media items, the best way to enter that information is individually as Posts, even though they are not actually “blog” posts.

The WordPress navigation menu can include both Page and Category names. If you have a category as a menu item, the items in that category will show up on the ‘Category Archive Page’ looking like they are a ‘Page’, but what the user is seeing is actually a page of posts.

c. Redirect Traffic From Your Old Page Names To Your New Page Names.

If you are changing from a static html website to a WordPress website, or are changing page or posts names once published, you will need to install a plugin that redirects the traffic previously going to the old page or post names to the new names. This can be done painlessly by installing the Simple 301 Redirect plugin onto your new website and adding each of the old page names next to the corresponding new page name. Before you take your old website down, be sure to write down all of the page names so you have the names handy to input into the plugin. And remember even if your actual pages names stay the same, on an html website the file extension is .html whereas the WordPress pages end in .php so they would all need to be redirected.

d. Install Plugins, Activate and Configure Them.

Plugins add additional functionality to WordPress websites. Some plugins make sitewide changes and others make widgets for your sidebar. If you are starting your first WordPress website or you started your updated website from a fresh install, you will have to install, activate and configure your plugins. Some important plugins to use are Akismet, a premium plugin for Spam prevention, Google Analyticator that tracks your website performance in Google Analytics. And make sure you have a good backup plugin such as VaultPress or Backup Buddy.

5. Going Live

a. Check your e-mail hosting.

When your new website is ready to go live you have this to consider on how to handle this step. If your mail is hosted somewhere else and you would like to keep it where it is you will go to your domain registrar and point just the domain name to the website with the IP address which will not change your e-mail hosting. If however you are moving your e-mail accounts to ClickHOST, set them up and then go to your Domain management on the domain registrar website and change the DNS numbers that the domain was using to point to the old hosting account to the DNS numbers (ns.clickhost.net and ns2.clickhost.net) that will point your domain to your new website on ClickHOST. You can also opt to transfer your domain name to ClickHOST. It is easier to manage your hosting and domain names in one place.

b. Timing.

Once you change where the domain is pointing whether by using the IP address or the DNS numbers, your old website will go down and it can take from 2 to 72 hours for the new website to propagate over the Internet and be live. You may want to check your stats and find a time of low traffic where the disruption will be minimized.

c. Make your website searchable.

Remember to go change your privacy settings back to make your website searchable and deactivate the maintenance plugin. You may also want to add the Google xmls Sitemap plugin that automatically makes a site map and submits it to search engines for you. It will also automatically update the site map when you make changes to your website.

6. Close Your Old Hosting Account.

Don’t forget to go back and close your existing hosting account and get a refund on the unused portion of your contract!

Here is another resource to reference when converting a static HTML website to WordPress.

Judi Knight This guest post by Judi Knight. She is the founder and chief of New Tricks where she is passionate about helping businesses create branded WordPress websites and use social media to gain fame and fortune. Judi is the organizer of the Atlanta WordPress Users Group with over 1000members, is a frequent national speaker and blogger and publishes Just a Digital Minute, a popular weekly newsletter with easy social media tips. Judi’s motto at New Tricks, is “It’s Never too Late” …to start a new business, to have a great website, or learn to use new technologies to grow your business. Link for Just a Digital Minute: http://eepurl.com/qFgX Link for New Tricks: http://newtricks.com

About

Owner of ClickHOST.com. I love life, my wife, my children & most importantly I love God! I enjoy reading, traveling, tech, Starbucks, Apple, and South Africa.

11 Comments

  1. Excellent Post! I’m going to Tweet (and make it a favorite) it, Share it, Stumble it, Google+ it, LinkedIn (already linked to Twitter) and email it to my clients.

    Excellent! Couldn’t have said it better myself. So I’ll stop right here.

    See you hopefully at your next WordPress User’s Group.

    • Hi Kris, yes! That’s why we asked the awesome Judi to do it. I’m planning on being at the next WordPress meetup.

      Cheers, Carel.

  2. Some very useful info there about switching from a static html site to a wordpress design site. Its actually easier than most people think, but you just showed that. Thanks

  3. Very good article but I cannot get the people hosting my existing website to provide details that will allow me to ultimately replace it with a new website based on WordPress.I can redirect the pointers so that the domain is hosted by someone but will lose the website that is there. My question is … how do I develop a new WordPress website so that it is complete and then promote it only once I have switched the pointers away from the company hosting the html website?

    • Hi Bruce, very good question. If you get a hosting account from us, you can install WordPress and design your new website using what we call a preview link, for example, IP address/~newacc. When you are happy with your new site you can update the name servers and then copy it to your home directory to go live. We would be happy to assist you with these steps.

      Cheers, Carel.

      • Thank you. It’s great knowing that it can be done so I will just make sure that is the way that I want to go. Thanks Carel.

        • I have one more question – assume that my domain is example.com.au. My email addresses are bruce@example.com.au etc but these are controlled by the same company that developed the website. I do have access to SITE 5 but how do I transfer the email addresses

          • Hi Bruce,
            You would need access to your domain name records. You don’t have to transfer your domain name to ClickHOST, but you would need access to the domain records. You can then set your name servers to ClickHOST and potentially also your MX records for your email.
            Hope this helps! If not feel free to email us at support@clickhost.com

  4. Great post, can’t believe it took me this long to see it! Thanks Judi for sharing such useful information!

  5. Great post, I would like to try it. Thanks…

  6. I was searching for how to convert Html page to wordpress and really surprised to see how you can change you website to cms hosted website.

    Well actually it really helps me and gave me an idea for future use.

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