How to move your site from Joomla to WordPress

For certain reasons it can be beneficial to migrate your Joomla website to WordPress. With this article I would like to list all the required steps to successfully move from Joomla to WordPress.

Are you operating a website using the Joomla CMS but would rather want to have the project running on WordPress? Several times have experienced exactly this situation where a customer wanted his Joomla website migrated to WordPress. Before you decide to migrate your website it is important to carefully consider the reasoning behind the move and also check alternative solutions. In general a migration from Joomla to WordPress is easy to realise and only requires few steps.

If you are managing a Joomla website it can be beneficial to transit to WordPress. This article was written to cover reasons for the move, explain necessary steps and risks as well as the costs of a migration to WordPress.

Reasons for the Migration from Joomla to WordPress

From my perspective there are two main reasons why you would want to move from Joomla to WordPress:

The first one is the popularity of WordPress. WordPress is certainly the most popular blogging or CMS system with more installations than Joomla. Therefore there are also many WordPress plugins and themes available. It is also easier to hire content editors for WordPress or find web development companies or software developers that can code WordPress specific solutions for you.

The second reason is the simplicity of WordPress. After talking to customers I have the impression that WordPress sites are easier to administrate. Just look at the menu in the admin area which is significant slimmer for WordPress. I would say that WordPress offers better user experience, as a WordPress editor you probably get things done faster and spend less time with the administration of the CMS.

Steps for the Migration from Joomla to WordPress

In general it is quite easy to switch from Joomla to WordPress. Both systems are based on PHP and use a SQL-like database to store dynamic data. Every migration should start with a backup of the existing site. It is also best practice to carry out the migration in a test environment without impacting the live website.

Installing WordPress

The first step after a backup is to set up a blank WordPress installation. This should be straight forward, just pay attention to the proper configuration.

Copy over Database Content

The next step is to take over the content of the database, such as the menu of your Joomla site, Joomla categories as well as all the page users. You also need to check which Joomla extensions are used and how they can be replaced by suitable WordPress plugins. To give an example: You might be using JComments for user comments on your website. These user comments can be easily transferred into Wordpress comments. More complex is the migration of a Joomla shop or forum.

For the migration of posts, articles and users you can use an existing plugin that automatically handles the migration for you. This works especially well for Joomla users, content, categories and menus.

Copy Required Files

You also need to copy over static files on your web server. Example for static files are images that are used in articles or documents that you offer to download. Please pay attention to get the paths right, otherwise you might end up with 404 errors.

Convert the Template from Joomla to WordPress

Another challenge is to transfer your Joomla template into a WordPress theme. If you plan a redesign anyway you can first develop the new WordPress theme prior to the migration. However, if you would like to keep the existing Joomla template you need to have knowledge about templating in both CMS systems so that you can reproduce your Joomla template.

Testing the Migrated Page

One important step of any migration is to test the final setup. This should include both, manual and automated tests so that you can have some confidence that the new website is working as intended.

For the manual test you probably just need to spend some time on the website, paying attention to what is presented and testing out different functionalities such as registering as a user, comment, etc. Best case you also try out different browsers or devices to check that template is reponsive and displayed properly.

For the automated test you can use tools such as Screaming Frog to ensure that your page does not have any broken links. You can also check that titles, meta description, etc. are correctly configured. You can even go further and use a simple Python script etc. to compare your Joomla site before the migration with the migrated site under WordPress. You can check URLs or even the page content in more detail and detect unwanted changes.

Risks of a Migration from Joomla to WordPress

A very common issue of IT projects is delay and delay might also happen when you migrate a Joomla website to WordPress. A proper preparation of the migration such as carefully checking existing functionality and extensions can help to reduce the risk of a delay.

Another risk of the migration is the loss of content or functionality. Again, a proper preparation and execution of the migration can reduce this risks.  You should also have tests in place that check if all the pages are available after the migration and that functionality works as intended.

When modifying a well established website with good rankings in search engines there is also the risk of losing rankings. The best mitigation is to prepare properly and avoid a situation where your website becomes unavailable for a longer period of time so that it cannot be crawled.

A bad migration where information is lost or your site is unavailable will result in less site visitors, less sales and can impose a thread to your web project and business.

Costs of a Migration from Joomla to WordPress

A disadvantage of the migration from Joomla to WordPress is the effort that is needed for the migration or simply the cost. Even if you carry out the migration yourself you will need to invest time that you cannot use to grow your website or business in other ways such as adding content or marketing. If you need to hire a company or freelancer for the migration you will face costs.

The costs to migrate a website from Joomla to WordPress depend on the size of your website and the extensions that are used. As a guideline you probably need to pay around 500 - 1.000 USD (1 day effort for a trained web developer) for an average site whilst the migration of a more complex could easily be a factor of 2-5 of that.

Please bear in mind that a migration from Joomla to WordPress will cause costs with no immediate benefit. However, on the long run it can be a profitable investment as you might be able to better grow your business without spending much time on administrating a Joomla website.

If you have any further questions about the migration of a website from Joomla to WordPress or if you would like to hire a company to carry out such migration then please do not hesitate to get in contact with us.