3 Essential Steps for a Smooth Transition to WordPress

This is a guest post from Barbara Austin.how to switch to wordpress

Ah January… a time for fresh beginnings and taking care of those pesky little business tasks that you’ve been putting off.

Time to ditch that instant-website service that costs you a hefty monthly fee and still doesn’t do everything you need it to. To give your blog a professional home, with your own domain name. To have an awesome website where your business can thrive online!

If you’ve heard all the raves, you know that WordPress is an excellent platform for building your small business website or blog.

It’s the best of both worlds, really… We design folks love it because we can create awesome websites for our clients, with all the important features they need, such as blogs and shopping carts.

Small business people like you love it because it puts you in greater control, able to add new features and functions on a whim, and update the content anytime you need to.

[Note from Liz: Barbara is referring to WordPress.org, a very different thing than a WordPress.com site. To put it simply, .org gives you a LOT more control and is a much better fit if you’re using your site to run a business. Okay, back to Barbara :)]

But all that control can be overwhelming, especially if you’re trying to setup your WordPress site and you run into problems. You know that feeling, when your initial excitement has given way to a sinking feeling, like “Oh-my-gosh, I don’t have a clue how to do this! Help!”?

So what should you do? Breathe some fresh air, grab a cup of tea (or your favorite soothing beverage), and let me walk you through the three most essential steps you need to take to get your website up and running on WordPress – with as few hiccups as possible.

1. Got Support?

Before you do anything else, set yourself up with a super-duper web host that offers excellent customer service and technical support. Not only does it come in handy for emergencies (“Help, my website has crashed!”), but you can call on them for other things too, like if you’re having trouble installing WordPress.

I’ve taken advantage of Bluehost’s phone support many times, and I’m always grateful for their super-nice, fluent-English-speaking, uber-helpful customer service reps.

2. Prepare!

Gather everything you need, before you make the transition. If you’re moving your website from another platform, such as Xanga or BigCommerce, check out this WordPress help article on how to import your existing content.

If the website service you’re switching from isn’t listed there, you may need to save all your images, web copy, and other content to your computer, and when the time comes, add it to your new WordPress site manually (or hire a pro to port your existing web pages over).

In any case, it’s a good idea to lay out your game plan ahead of time – sort of like gathering all your cookie- or cake-baking ingredients before you ever fire up the blender or warm up the oven. It’s just good practice!

3. Choose Wisely.

After you’ve set up WordPress, probably the first thing you’ll want to do is find a theme (a theme is a collection of code, images, and other instructions that dictate your website’s appearance and some of its’ basic functions).

My advice? You can save yourself a lot of time and trouble down the road, by selecting one that actually fits your business’ needs, rather than taking the first one that looks good.

Use WPhub.com to search and compare different themes, based on the criteria that are most important to you.

And if you want an extremely versatile theme that can be used for lots of different business or blog types, I personally use (and love) Thesis, and Headway is another that I highly recommend.

Whichever way you spin it, SUPPORT + PLANNING are your keys to making a seamless transition to WordPress. With those things in place, all that’s left is to JUST DO IT!

Choosing a WordPress Theme Tips


What about you?

Have you made the move to WordPress? Run into a roadblock or problem during the process, that if you had known about ahead of time, you could have avoided? Share your questions + tips + experiences with us in the comments!

About the Author

Barbara Austin headshotBarbara Austin is the Chief Design Officer of Sweet Dreamz Design.

Her passion lies in helping small businesses connect visually with their customers, using intuitive branding, print, and web design skills to express the heart and soul of the company in a way that words alone cannot.

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