How to help customers move to WordPress
A large number of our customers come from the boom days of Microsoft FrontPage.
For those of you who don’t know about Microsoft FrontPage, it was both a tool for web hosting customers as well as an a server-based application for web hosting providers to allow individuals and organizations to design rather sophisticated sites visually.
The client would use their PC or MAC along with the Microsoft FrontPage software to visually design their site on their machine; and then publish their work to the Internet.
Where it differed from products like Dreamweaver is that you didn’t have to be a designer to use Microsoft FrontPage; and, Microsoft FrontPage had extensions (a server based application the hosting provider would run) which would allow common, dynamic, functionality such as form to email, discussion forums, and so on to work without forcing the client to learn how to program in perl or php.
Those of you who were around prior to the DOT COM bust of the year 2000 probably remember how difficult it was for small businesses on a tight budget to have their own web presence. Microsoft FrontPage did that for a very large number of small businesses.
Years later you have Microsoft Corporation abandoning Microsoft FrontPage leaving them in a lurch.
Small businesses often don’t have in-house designers, perl or PHP developers, and often come from the school of DIY — do it yourself.
WordPress is a full content management system which allows individuals and organizations to design their own site in a very visual way.
While it does help if a hosting provider is WordPress friendly, WordPress doesn’t require the hosting provider to install special extensions (for which Microsoft FrontPage did require in order to allow Microsoft FrontPage users to take advantage of all of the features).
I would like to share how we have been helping our managed hosting customers make the move to WordPress.
We set up a subdomain (basically a separate web site that in our case is parallel to their main site) like dev.theirdomain or wp.theirdomain; and then do a manual install of WordPress with various hardening measures to make sure our customer has a secure foundation for starting to use WordPress.
From there it is a matter of being there for the customer as they learn and DIY.
The WordPress Codex is a great place for WordPress beginners to experts to continue to learn.
When our customers are ready to make the switch from their development area (i.e. replace their entire site with their new WordPress-based content management system), we do the following on the server (the below is pseudo code as we are actually using Linux-based commands):
- Change to the client’s home directory (which in our case is one directory above their web area).
- Move their development area to a temp area
- Move their main domain to the development area
- Move the temp area to their main domain
For the Linux geeks, this looks like the following:
mv dev.theirdomain dev.tmp
mv theirdomain dev.theirdomain
mv dev.tmp theirdomain
Then we follow the steps we’ve published on how to let WordPress know the web page address (URL) has changed.
Viola, the customer’s site is now running WordPress; and when the time comes the development area (what was their original site) can be deleted.
If you are one of our managed hosting customers, please note we provide this help with moving to WordPress freely.
Contact us if you have any questions.