A comprehensive guide to migrating
your WordPress site for business users
As your organization's digital requirements evolve, migrating your WordPress site to a modern, headless alternative becomes a life-or-death consideration.
This comprehensive guide is specifically tailored for business users seeking to navigate the intricacies behind migrating WordPress website migration from a technical standpoint. We'll delve into the rationale behind migration, examine key factors and prerequisites, explore various migration methods, and provide a step-by-step guide to ensure a successful and seamless transition.
Armed with this guide, you'll be well-prepared to make informed decisions, effectively manage the complexities of the migration process, and confidently relocate your WordPress website to a modern headless CMS.
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Table of contents
Why migrate from WordPress to headless?
While WordPress has been a popular content management system for many years, there are compelling reasons to consider migrating to modern web architectures like Jamstack.
WordPress has long been considered a comprehensive solution for creating and managing websites, and, for some businesses, that’s more than enough.
As a traditional open-source CMS, it combines the front-end and back-end, providing a user-friendly platform for beginners and bloggers. However, this approach creates an outdated monolithic structure.
To understand how WordPress works, imagine a wooden boat with a sail, anchor, and a skilled crew. They all work in harmony to propel the boat forward.
However, the boat's single-body design means that increasing cargo and crew capacity requires replacing the entire ship or adding storage, which can weigh it down. Now, imagine your ship hits something and tears the cargo hold open. That could compromise the entire crew, causing it to sink.
WordPress is like this boat. While consolidating everything in one platform is convenient, it can result in performance, security, and other issues. Headless architecture, on the other hand, separates every part of your boat, allowing you to swap the hull –the headless CMS– the sails, or the site generator, and the anchor –or your hosting provider.
A wooden sailboat will struggle to keep pace in a world where competitors boast sleek steel vessels with unmatched speed, reliability, and interchangeable components. To stay ahead of the game, relying solely on WordPress may no longer be enough if your business to thrive.
If that analogy isn’t enough to convince you to migrate from WordPress, here are some hard facts about why choosing a modern web architecture can beat WordPress.
You will achieve optimal website performance: Perfect or near-perfect Google Lighthouse scores are a dream on a WordPress site. Choosing a modern architecture like Jamstack will net you solid performance gains from the get-go, reduce load speeds and drive conversions.
You will unlock new features and capabilities: With a headless CMS, you can pick new technologies like front-end frameworks to build your project. That means your team can be deliberate about the technology you choose and fine-tune every part of the website, including the visitor journey. These fascinating technologies include meta-frameworks and libraries like Gatsby, React, and Next.js. You can also use modern deployment tools like Netlify and Vercel to set your site live.
You will be safer and compliant: We already discussed this, but when your website’s front-end is decoupled from the back-end, the surface area cybercriminals can target is significantly smaller. This adds an extra layer of security to protect your site from security risks like cross-site scripting and brute force attacks.
🌟 We wrote an extensive post on Why migrating from WordPress to Jamstack is a good idea, where we go deep about Jamstack and why headless is the future. Consider it a companion to this post.
Things to think about before migrating your WordPress site
Migration can be traumatic, and maybe it’s not the best idea for some, but maybe it is for you. So, before embarking on a migration process, let’s think things through for a second and ensure you can do it responsibly if you say yes to migration.
Do you really need to migrate your WordPress site?
Evaluate whether migration is necessary for your business. Consider factors such as:
Size of your company and traffic
Security concerns or recent breaches
Reliability of your existing hosting provider
Current site performance and user experience
The need for additional resources or advanced features
Investing in a headless CMS may not be a good idea if your website is still in its infancy and you’re building your buyer persona and audience. But if you feel you’ve outgrown what you already have, yes, you should take the plunge.
Choosing the right hosting provider
Selecting the right hosting provider is crucial for successful website migration. Consider the following aspects when comparing potential providers:
Ensure the provider can deliver the speed, uptime, and performance your business requires
Choose a provider that can grow with your business, offering flexible plans and resources
Look for providers with excellent customer support and responsive technical assistance.
Verify the provider's security measures, certifications, and adherence to data protection regulations
Traditional WordPress hosting providers like WP Engine, A2 hosting, or Hostinger are good. However, they’re still server-based options with added complexities you could quickly go without with serverless providers like Vercel and Netlify.
Evaluating the scope of the migration
Understanding the extent of the migration will help you set realistic expectations and allocate the appropriate resources. Consider the following:
Email accounts and domain name configurations
Customizations and integrations with third-party services
The size of your website, including website files, WordPress database, and media
Any additional services or applications hosted on the same server
Not every migration project is the same. Cookie-cutter approaches don’t work here, and if an agency offers you a templatized approach to your project, be careful. In any case, make sure you have realistic expectations about what you want to achieve by migrating and what are the most critical parts of your project so they can be migrated first.
Ensuring data security and privacy
Migrating a WordPress site involves moving sensitive data, so it's essential to prioritize security and privacy. Take the following precautions:
Use secure data transfer methods, such as SFTP or SSL-encrypted connections
Monitor for any unauthorized access or suspicious activity during the migration process
Protect sensitive information, like access credentials and customer data, by encrypting it during transit and storage
Since WordPress can be like Swiss cheese regarding security, you must protect your data at every step of the process to ensure that you transfer everything to a more secure location.
Planning for downtime and user experience impact
While migrating a WordPress site, there may be some unavoidable downtime. To minimize the impact on users, consider these strategies:
Use temporary redirects or maintenance pages to inform users about the migration
Schedule the website migration during low-traffic periods, such as weekends or late-night hours
Test the new environment thoroughly before making it live to ensure a seamless user experience
The best way, we believe, is to set up a temporary mirror site that mimics the site to migrate as much as possible and then migrate WordPress features piecemeal. This offers maximum flexibility for developers and fewer side effects for users.
Methods of migrating from WordPress
There are several methods to choose from when migrating a WordPress site to another architecture. Each method has its advantages and drawbacks, so selecting the one that best fits your business's needs and resources is crucial.
Manual migration involves moving your website files and new database to the new hosting environment yourself. This method offers the most control over the process but requires technical expertise and can be time-consuming. We honestly don’t recommend you undergo a manual migration process unless you have the muscle and the patience to do it.
Full control over the migration process
No additional costs
Requires technical knowledge
Can be time-consuming and error-prone
WordPress migration plugin
A WordPress plugin can automate migration, making it more accessible for those with limited technical skills. There are even plugins to go headless with Gatsby if you want to try your hand at headless. These plugins often provide step-by-step guidance and simplify the process, but they can be hard to use and make sense of without professional help.
User-friendly if you know how to code
Faster and more efficient than manual migration
May not support complex or highly customized sites
Some plugins may require a fee
Professional migration service
Hiring a professional service or a software development agency to handle the migration ensures a smooth and efficient process. Experts like us have the necessary experience and resources to manage even the most complex migrations, so don’t hesitate to ask all the questions
Can manage complex and highly customized sites
Experienced professionals handle the migration
Minimizes risk and downtime
Can be more expensive than other methods
Less control over the migration process
🌟 We wrote a deep article about how to hire the best agency to develop a site for your business. Check it out if you need extra help making a decision.
Choosing the right method for your business
Obviously, we have a horse in the race, but if your project fits the criteria for other kinds of migrations, go ahead and try. If something doesn’t go right, you can always contact us and try again, this time with extra help from a professional team.
Anyway, to determine the best migration method for your business, consider the following factors:
Your technical expertise and resources: If your team has the necessary skills, a manual migration or using a plugin may be suitable. If not, employing professional services is recommended.
The complexity of your website: For simple sites, plugins may suffice. Manual migration or professional services are more appropriate for more complex or customized sites.
Your budget: Assess the costs associated with each method and choose the one that fits your budget while still delivering the desired results.
Time constraints: If you have limited time for the migration, using a plugin or hiring professional services may expedite the process.
Getting ready for migration
Before initiating the migration process, thorough preparation is essential to ensure a smooth transition and minimize potential issues. Follow these steps to get your WordPress websitesite ready for migration:
Create a backup of your WordPress site
You need to have three things in mind when creating your backups: where you will store them, where you will export your WordPress database, and how to store all that information safely.
Acquiring access credentials and information
Gather all the necessary access credentials and information to ensure a seamless migration process. This includes FTP/SFTP credentials for current and new hosting environments, database access credentials for both hosting environments, control panel or hosting management access details, and domain name registrar information for updating DNS settings.
Communicating the migration plan to stakeholders
Informing stakeholders of the upcoming migration is essential to manage expectations and avoid confusion. Communicate the reason for the migration and its benefits, why you chose professional services over manual migration, and how much it will take. Also, tell your visitors and other interested parties about the migration if it results in unexpected downtime.
Scheduling the migration during low-traffic periods
To minimize user impact, schedule the migration when your old site experiences the least amount of traffic. This could be outside of business hours, such as late nights or early mornings, during weekends or holidays, when user activity may be lower, or after analyzing your new site's traffic patterns to identify the most suitable time.
A step-by-step guide to migrating your WordPress website
Migrating your WordPress site to the Jamstack architecture can improve performance, enhance security, and reduce hosting costs.
🧠 Jamstack is an architecture designed to make the web faster, more secure, and easier to scale. It builds on many of the tools and workflows which developers love, and which bring maximum productivity. Peep this article if you want to learn more about what is Jamstack.
1. Exporting your WordPress content:
Install the WPGraphQL plugin on your WordPress site to expose your content through a GraphQL API.
Use the WPGraphiQL plugin or a tool like Insomnia or Postman to test the GraphQL API and ensure that your content is available for consumption by your new Jamstack site
2. Choosing a static site generator:
Select a static site generator (SSG) that fits your requirements and preferences
Some popular choices include Gatsby, Next.js, Nuxt.js, and Vue
3. Setting up your new Jamstack site:
Install the chosen SSG and create a new project following the documentation
Configure the SSG to consume the GraphQL API from your WordPress site
Build the required templates and components to display your content on the new Jamstack site
4. Migrating your WordPress theme and plugins
Manually recreate the design and layout of your WordPress theme using the chosen SSG or select a pre-built theme that closely matches your requirements
5. Setting up a build process:
Configure your build process using a Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) service, like Netlify, Vercel, or GitHub Actions, to automate the deployment of your Jamstack site
Set up webhooks to trigger a build whenever the content is updated on your WordPress site
6. Deploying your Jamstack site
Deploy your new Jamstack site to your preferred hosting provider or use one of the CI/CD services mentioned above
Test your site to ensure that all content, design elements, and functionalities work as expected
7. Updating your domain's DNS settings
Log in to your domain registrar account
Locate the DNS settings or nameserver settings for your domain
Update the settings to point to your new Jamstack site's hosting provider
Save the changes and note that DNS propagation can take up to 48 hours
8. Post-migration tasks
Monitor your site's performance, user experience, and functionality to ensure a smooth transition
Submit your new Jamstack site to search engines and update your sitemap
Verify that your analytics tracking codes, such as Google Analytics, are correctly integrated into your new Jamstack site
🌟 We wrote a deep guide about headless CMS implementation. Take a look at it if you want to learn more about headless architecture.
Post-migration best practices
After successfully migrating your WordPress site, monitoring and optimizing your new hosting environment is crucial to ensure long-term success. Here are some post-migration best practices to follow:
Monitoring site performance and functionality: Regularly review your site's performance metrics, such as load times, server response times, and page speed scores. Conduct ongoing functionality tests to ensure all features, such as contact forms, user logins, and e-commerce transactions, work correctly. Keep your WordPress installation, themes, and plugins up-to-date for optimal performance and security.
Ensuring proper SEO and analytics tracking: Verify that your analytics tracking codes, such as Google Analytics, are correctly integrated into your new hosting environment. Monitor your search engine rankings and organic traffic to identify any potential SEO issues. Use SEO tools, like Google Search Console, to check for crawling errors, broken links, or duplicate content issues.
Communicating the migration success to stakeholders: Inform stakeholders about the successful migration and any improvements in performance, security, or user experience. Provide updates on any ongoing optimizations or adjustments to the new hosting environment. Collect feedback from stakeholders and users to identify areas for further improvement.
Addressing post-migration issues: Create a plan for resolving any issues that arise after the migration, such as broken links, missing content, or formatting problems. Monitor user feedback and support requests to identify and address user experience issues. Work closely with your hosting provider or development team to address new server or performance-related concerns.
Benefits of a successful WordPress site migration
Now, the silver lining. A successful WordPress site migration will offer several advantages to your business's overall growth and development. Here are some key benefits of a well-executed migration:
Improved site performance and security
A new hosting environment with better resources can significantly improve your site's load times, contributing to better user engagement and higher search engine rankings. Plus, upgrading to serverless architecture, with its added robust security measures, helps protect your new site against attacks, data breaches, and other potential threats.
Enhanced user experience
A faster and more reliable site improves the overall user experience and encourages visitors to spend more time on your site and engage with your content. At the same time, the migration process can serve as an opportunity to review and enhance your site's design, layout, and functionalities, making it more user-friendly and visually appealing.
Streamlined site management
Upgrading to a new hosting environment can provide access to advanced tools and features that simplify site management and maintenance tasks. Remember that choosing a reliable hosting provider or an agency with exceptional customer support can help you quickly address any technical issues or concerns, ensuring your new site remains operational and efficient 24/7.
Scalability and adaptability for future growth
Going headless makes you scalable and flexible, allowing your site to grow with your business, handle increased traffic and expand features without compromising performance likely to support new and emerging technologies, enabling your new site to stay up-to-date and relevant in a rapidly changing digital landscape.
Hey there! Are you ready to take your small business or portfolio site to new heights? Time to jump on the Jamstack train! Jamstack-powered digital experiences are your ticket to boundless scalability and success.
Make the switch to Jamstack and watch your marketing and development teams transform into a dream team, crafting lightning-fast, conversion-boosting static sites and applications that'll have your audience head over heels.
Need a hand migrating from WordPress to Jamstack? We've got your back! Check out our sizzling Jamstack development services, or give us a shout and let us know about your current situation. We'll swoop in and save the day!
Ready to Make the Move from WordPress to Jamstack? Let's Chat!
Embarking on a WordPress migration journey can feel overwhelming, but don't worry; we're here to help you every step of the way. Our experienced team of WordPress migration specialists is just a click away, eager to guide you toward a seamless transition to Jamstack.
By choosing our WordPress migration services, you'll benefit from:
Expert guidance on choosing the right tools and technologies for your project
A smooth, stress-free migration process tailored to your needs
Ongoing support to ensure your new Jamstack site thrives