How to Migrate a Sitecore Website to WordPress
As the saying goes, “there is no silver bullet” when it comes to website migrations. For years, we’ve had loads of free plugins and services that let us import websites from one system to another. While this was initially great, over time it’s become apparent that these tools cause more problems than they solve. That being said, there is still a place for these services in today’s world of managed and professional web hosting. One of the biggest issues is keeping your information secure while still having the ability to import your data. We’re going to walk you through how to migrate a Sitecore website to WordPress without using any third-party tools or plugins.
The Simplicity Of Building A Custom Migration Tool
Back in 2017, we had the good fortune of helping a large online retailer get their feet wet in the world of e-commerce. We built them a custom tool that allowed them to easily export all of their site content to a WordPress install without any fuss. As a team, we have over 20 years of experience in managing corporate websites and e-commerce stores. We knew exactly what information they were looking for and took the time to craft the right tool to help them out.
Get Your Hands On The Right Hardware
While it’s awesome that most modern computer hardware comes with a ton of storage and RAM, it’s also not practical if the machine you’re working on doesn’t have enough power to run WordPress smoothly. Regardless of whether you have a virtual machine running on your desktop or a dedicated server in your data center, make sure that you’re running the right hardware. It’s a pain to tune a machine that isn’t built for heavy workloads.
Choose A Suitable Location For Your WordPress Installation
When you launch a new blog or website, the first thing you need to do is choose a suitable location for it to live on. Depending on your needs, you have several options here:
- You can install WordPress on your existing server. This is the most convenient option since all you need is someone with enough knowledge to help you get set up. Plus, you don’t have to worry about storage space since your web host will take care of that for you.
- You can physically move your site to a new server. This is usually what we see recommended in situations where you need a fresh start. The downside to this option is finding the time to move all the content by yourself.
- You can set up a new WordPress installation in a different location than your existing site. If you want to keep your content but need a fresh start with the design, this is the option for you. The downside to this option is that you’ll need to figure out a way to get all your content from your old site to your new one. Depending on how much content you have and how much space you have available, this could take some time.
- Instead of moving your site to a new server, you could move your entire web host to a new environment. This is usually done for cost-related concerns. The downside to this option is that it requires an extra step to move all your content from your old site to your new one. Plus, you need to have enough knowledge about servers and web hosts to do it yourself.
- You could set up a new blog or website in the same location as your old one. If you already have a domain name and are just looking for a place to put your content, this can be a convenient option. The downside to this option is that, once again, you’ll need to figure out a way to get all your content from your old site to your new one. Depending on how much content you have, this could take some time. Additionally, you’ll be stuck with the same URL (http://www.example.com) for your site regardless of whether it’s hosted on AWS, Azure, or your own web host.
Create A Dataset Of All The Important Permissions
One of the things we recommend when migrating a site is creating a dataset of all the important permissions. This is especially important if you’re moving to a different server since the system admin may not have the same level of access that you do. It’s also worth having during the initial set-up process so that you can reassign them if necessary. When we say “all the important permissions,” we mean all the permissions relating to your blog or website’s content. This includes items like:
- Media Library
- Custom Fields
In addition to the permissions mentioned above, you should also create a list of all the plugins that you’re using on your site. Depending on how advanced the plugins are and how familiar you are with them, you can decide whether you want to keep them or remove them. Keep in mind that if you decide to remove a plugin, you’ll need to figure out why you need it in the first place.
Choose Your Migration Plan
Now that you have a general idea of what you need to do, it’s time to choose your migration plan. There are several things to consider here:
- How long do you have to complete the process?
- What is your end goal?
- What is the cost?
- Are you moving servers or just using a service like SSH to connect to a remote server?
As you might imagine, the amount of time that you have to complete the process will depend on how committed you are to getting things done. If you have a short deadline, you might want to opt for one of the automated tools out there. These tools usually handle the heavy lifting for you, so you can focus on what’s important to you: getting your site migrated.
Useful Hints And Tricks
Once you have your tools ready, it’s time to start migrating your content. Like with any new set of instructions, there are some useful tips and tricks that will help you make the process go more efficiently. Here are some of the things that we recommend:
- Backup Your Important Data
- Create A Disaster Recovery Plan
- Test Connection Via SSH
- Use File Zilla To Transfer Files
- Migrate As A WordPress Developer
- Use Ajax To Minimize Page Loads
- Use The W3 Total Cache Plugin To Boost Page Speed
- Avoid Using Too Many Plugins At Once
As you work through the process, you will discover some helpful hints and tricks along the way. While this might not be possible for everyone, it’s worth taking the time to learn from others who have been in your shoes previously. In addition to that, keep in mind that no one tool or guidebook can ever prepare you for everything that you might encounter during a website migration. With that in mind, it’s important to keep your wits about you and be flexible enough to adapt as needed. Just remember: with great power comes great responsibility.