Many of you are taking heed and switching to WordPress and some of you are still holding on to the way you've always done things. There's nothing wrong with either except at some point things will need to change.
There are some things to consider when you decide to upgrade your website from its current static platform to WordPress.
There never is a right time to do this. Putting it off waiting for the right moment just won't happen. It's like starting a weight loss regimen– tomorrow never comes and there will always be something keeping you from making the move.
I like to think of transitioning to WordPress like moving into a new house:
Local Move – adding WordPress to your current host server.
Relocation – moving to a new host server and adding WordPress.
Backup your website. Some host servers provide this as an option from their cPanel and some do not. Consult with your host server or your web guy or girl for assistance with this.
Move the old website files to the new host server and verify the site is functioning as expected. This way while you're working on the new WordPress site the old one is still doing what it does for you.
Now on to the FUN stuff!
When creating the directory for WordPress choose a name that you don't mind visitors seeing like /blog or /wp. Please do not use /wordpress as your directory name as this causes problems later when referencing pages within your new WordPress site.
Now you're all set and can install WordPress.
This is huge and may be the reason you've put off this move.
Choose a design for your website.
I know this is a sticky part and could hold up your new site for months. Don't let this happen. The best design I've found is Thesis and not because they have so many designs to choose from. In fact there's only one option. So if you have trouble making decisions it's perfect for you. The other reason you want to use Thesis is because it's SEO ready meaning your website can easily be found, read, and indexed by search engines.
Once Thesis is installed you’re all set and can start moving those old posts and creating pages.
If you have not been using WordPress you will not be able to pick up and move your blog posts in one big sweep and place them at the new location. Instead you'll have to copy and paste each post and upload each image or continue using your URL for the image if it's stored on your server. Yes, this a tedious task, however if you don't do it now it will get worse as you'll have even more blog posts to move.
Unfortunately you cannot take your comments with you.
If you don't want to copy and paste all of your posts, you can write a goodbye post in your existing site and let everyone know the address of your new blog home. Choose this option especially if you are using a freebie blogging system since redirecting is may not be an option, is too clunky for your visitors, or charges you to redirect to your domain.
In this case I'd still get all of my posts since you never know if the sponsoring site will pull the rug from under you if they deem you're spamming or breaking some of their rules.
Have your graphics designer create a header for your new site and then you can place the header where you'd like. If you don't have a designer and are clues as to where you'd put the header email us at support (at) virtualhiredhand.com we can help with those issues. Checkout our portfolio of headers here.
Redirect your old domain to the new site. When all is done, verified, and tested redirect traffic from the old domain to the new one. This way you don't have to worry about missing any visitors who didn't know you moved.
If you're not one to pack your own stuff, rent a U-Haul, load and unload the U-Haul, seek a web professional who can handle it for you.