“I Love the Idea of an Automated Migration Process” – an Interview with Jonathan Wold

Blog,Experts' Insights

Editor’s note: We are happy to present to your attention an interview with Jonathan Wold – WordPress consultant, developer and a migration expert who has been building sites with WP for over 8 years now. Jonathan is also the author of a Smashing Magazine post on WordPress migration that has shattered the myth of its being an overly complicated matter. Starting out as a complete newbie, he built his expertise with one of the most powerful platforms out there and definitely has a lot to share. Jonathan kindly agreed to answer a couple of our questions for all aisite blog readers, which we hurry to treat you with. Enjoy!

1. Jonathan, you’ve been working with WordPress since 2005. This is quite a long time! What is it that made you choose this CMS among all the others?

I chose WordPress because, at the time, the most I knew about programming was how to write a PHP include. WordPress allowed me, a non-programmer, to offer my clients the ability to manage content themselves. The other element that attracted me was the community. WordPress wasn’t as easy-to-use back then but the community changed all that. Several folks (including Matt himself) took the time to patiently answer my beginner questions and guide me in the right direction.

2. As a migration expert, can you name the most common challenges in migration to WordPress? How do you cope with them?

The most common challenge is figuring out what to do about content. For simple 3-5 pages sites it’s pretty easy – most content on small sites simply becomes a “page” in WordPress. Using a plugin like Advanced Custom Fields you can easily create custom interfaces for handling more complex on-page data (like a client-editable “table”). Where it gets challenging, though, is when there is a lot of content and/or different types of content. The challenge is that there are so many ways to do things in WordPress – the key is taking the time to figure out the best way, starting with the project’s objectives, and then focusing on the technical best practices.

3. What’s your view on using automated technology in the process of migrating a website?

I think there is a tremendous amount of room for innovation. I love the idea of an automated migration process, particularly for the smaller sites. The concept of asking a website owner to answer a few questions and then an automated system takes care of the rest is fantastic. I see a lot of challenges to be overcome – but they are just that, challenges for the overcoming.

4. From your experience, Jonathan, which site elements can be moved to the new platform automatically and which should better be converted manually?

The content itself, particularly for simple sites, is probably the easiest to move automatically. While I definitely see ways that the theme migration process could also be automated I’d suggest that, based on my current experience, that is probably where the most “human” assistance would need to be involved.

5. How do you see WordPress developing as a platform in the nearest future? Are there any features that you find necessary to be added, and ones that should be done away with?

I see WordPress continuing to focus more on “content management”. It gained its popularity by doing blogging well and becoming a platform that was easy for non-technical website owners to put to work. Those owners, in turn, hired developers to do more with WordPress and that has and will continue to push the development community to do more and take the platform further. I’m excited with the “under the hood” improvements (like automatic-updates) coming in WordPress 3.7.

6. WordPress is the most frequently used CMS, and you’re a seasoned WordPress pro. Still, did you have clients, whom you recommended to go with a platform other than WP?

Definitely. One of the challenges of working with WordPress is that there are so many options available (plugins, themes, etc) – for folks wanting to build a site entirely on their own and who don’t have much desire to learn the technical ins and outs, I’ve sent them to use “all-in-one” platforms (e.g. WordPress.com, Squarespace.com). For folks with complex needs (e.g. non-standard ecommerce) I’ll usually help them evaluate their needs and then either recommend custom development on WordPress or send them to another platform.

7. I am sure you are often asked the following question, taking into account your line of work. So here it goes: what are your recommendations to people who recently migrated to WordPress and haven’t got much experience with this platform? A lot of our readers are now in this situation and would appreciate your advice.

Great question! My advice is to use it. WordPress was designed with the non-technical user in mind and I think that a lot of folks who imagine it to be intimidating will find it a whole lot easier than they’d envisioned once they actually start to put it to work. The “How To” section on WordPress.tv has a number of helpful videos. Also, WP101 Basic Training from Envato is an excellent resource.

We are thankful to Jonathan for this insightful interview with us. If you’ve got further questions, feel free to ask them in the comments below. Both Jonathan Wold and aisite Team will be happy to hear from you and respond.

P.S. Feeling inspired to start your way with WordPress? aisite is here for you to help you handle your website migration to WordPress in the most efficient and simple manner.

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