Over the years, chances are that your business has evolved. Whether it is new products or services, additional locations, or perhaps you need to sell online (and not just at your business location).

Has your website kept up with the growing demands of your small business?

It’s not uncommon for our clients to come to us with a website that was developed 5-10 years ago. Sometimes they are hundreds of static HTML pages, flash based sites, Java sites, ASP sites, or even sites created with “Godaddy Tonight” (yuck!). For the most part, these sites not only look like they are 10+ years old, they are a nightmare to update the most basic elements and can have slow loading times.

Does this sound familiar to your business?

Don’t worry, you are NOT alone! Many of the companies we work with have a current website that leaves a little more to be desired. You are looking to not only update your website, but help make it easier to use moving forward. No matter the current state of your website, you might have come to the realization that it is time for a change.

No doubt, you might have questions on making such a change. Questions such as:

  • Should I convert my company website to WordPress?
  • Can I do this myself?
  • What should I look out for when converting my small business website to WordPress?

For the majority of our clients, we recommend converting their websites to WordPress. However, depending on your familiarity of WordPress, here are some key tips to consider when migrating your small business website to WordPress that can answer these questions and more.

Functionality of Current Website

Before moving forward, we need to look at where you are at with your current website. Typically, we look at things like:

  • Is there any special features or functionality that must be implemented in the WordPress site?
  • Does the current website use any Flash or other elements that are not conducive to implementing a proper responsive design?
  • Is there a need for special sections such as a photo gallery, e-commerce, or specialized contact forms?
  • What is the current URL structure of the website and what pages will require 301 redirects?
  • Are you getting the most out of your website contact form?

It is important to note up front what functionality must carry over from the existing site into WordPress. Not only should you consider your current/previous functionality, but also what new functionality do you wish to incorporate into your new WordPress website?

What Content Needs to be Imported to WordPress?

When working with an existing website, it is likely you will have pages and content you want to use again on your new WordPress site. At the same time, this is a great opportunity to do a content analysis to see what content is still relevant, what needs updated, and what needs to be removed. Using Google Analytics can help you uncover your best (and worst) content to help with a content analysis.

Once the content is identified it is important to note the existing URL structure of the page in that once this content is imported into WordPress it might have a new URL. If this is the case, you will need to be sure to create 301 redirects from the old URL to the new URL. This will help inform search engines that the previous page has moved to a new URL.

The same approach needs to be taken with the content that is removed. You will want to note the URL of the page and then 301 redirect it to a related page on the new site. This will help pass through any page authority the previous web page had built over time.

Depending on how the previous website was built, it might be possible to import the content into WordPress. However, if there is not an easy way to import the content, then it may have to be manually added to the new WordPress site. Need help with this? Don’t be afraid to ask!

Keep the Current Design or Create a New One?

Depending on the age (or love of) your current website design, you may opt to have the design ported over to work with WordPress. Sometimes this is an easy task, while other times it is rather tedious.

Keeping the current design allows you to keep a consistent look and feel your visitors are used to. For the most part, they might have no idea your business website recently changed platforms should you decide to use the same design in WordPress.

Should you decide to design a new WordPress template, you can choose to easily bring in new functionality with the new design. This could be a revamped homepage with some interactive elements or integrating various calls to action to increase your email list. I recommend starting with a fresh design if your current website design hasn’t been updated in years.

Aside from a complete do over or keeping of the existing design, you could meet in the middle and keep certain elements from the previous design while bringing in some new functionality and features in the design.

In the end, it is best to explore each design option to decide what makes the most sense for your small business.

Unforeseen Circumstances

It’s inevitable that there will be some issue that derails your WordPress conversion. For the most part it will just be a small bump in the road that you can easily overcome.

When we are working on converting existing websites to WordPress, we always do our best to think two steps ahead as well as the potential problems we may run into. After doing countless website conversions to WordPress, rarely are there issues that we did not see coming.

Of course if you are tackling this on your own, it may seem that you continue to run into problem after problem. If you find yourself in this situation, it may be best to reach out to us to handle converting your existing website to WordPress.

If you know of someone who is thinking about converting their existing website to WordPress, please send them a link to this post. You’ll be doing us a favor as well as your friend. They will owe you one!

It’s a win-win for everyone.

photo credit: Nanagyei