Essential Steps Before Moving a Static HTML Website to Wordpress to Minimize Downtime

Wordpress websites have many advantages over static HTML websites. They are dynamic and easier to scale.

Have you decided to join the ranks of the 835 million (and counting) Wordpress users in 2024? The platform will only get more popular, with over two million downloads every year.

At the same time, downtime can be the death knell of a website. After experiencing it, 80% of users will not return to a website.

Moving a static HTML website to Wordpress involves several steps to minimize downtime and ensure a smooth transition. For more information about your new platform, check out this beginner-friendly guide on “What is Wordpress.”

Create a testing environment

Install a local server (e.g., XAMPP, MAMP, or Local by Flywheel) to create a testing environment for Wordpress and install the system locally so you can work on the migration without affecting the live site.

Back up your website

Copy all HTML files, images, CSS, JavaScript, and other assets. Make sure you have a complete backup of all text and media content.

Choose a suitable theme

Over 30,000 Wordpress themes are currently available, so there’s plenty to choose from. Opt for a customizable theme or one that closely matches the design of your static website.

Hello Elementor is the most popular theme, with 1.13% of the top sites using it, or 11,256. Divi comes second with a share of 0.93%, appearing on 9,266 sites. Astra is a close third, used by 9,044 sites, which represent a 0.9% share.

Change the host file to prevent downtime

Both the installer file and the archive zip file need to be uploaded to your site’s root directory. Once you’ve done that, open the installer.php file. It can usually be accessed using an address like In this case, though, this address will lead you to a 404 error as you’ll be taken to the old web host, to which the domain name still points.

Contrary to popular belief, you should change your domain name and point it to the new host. Your visitors will see a broken website during the migration process.

You use the host file on your computer to access your new site temporarily without affecting your old one. You can map domain names to specific IP addresses. Your system will think you’ve moved your site even though you haven’t, ensuring 100% uptime.

Use a plugin like HTML Import 2 to migrate your content automatically, at least in part. Another plugin experts recommend is Duplicator. It features cloud storage support, automated scheduled backups, smart migrations, and one-click restore. There is a free version called Duplicator Lite.

If you choose to activate it, go to the admin area and then Duplicator » Packages. In the top right corner, click on ‘Create New.’ The new package launches the Duplicator’s backup wizard. Naming the backup is optional. You can proceed by clicking on the ‘Next’ button.

Then, the plugin will scan your system to make sure that everything is in order. The process may take several minutes to complete, so make sure the tab is left open.

If everything checks out, you’ll see download options for the Archive package and Installer. Click on the ‘Download’ button, then choose ‘Both Files’. The installer file automates the installation, and the archive file is a copy of your full website.

Install other plugins

Plugins like Elementor or Beaver Builder can help replicate complex layouts. Yoast SEO helps manage SEO settings, and UpdraftPlus will back up your Wordpress site.

Plan content structure

You need to decide how your current HTML content will be organized in Wordpress. You might retain a similar format or opt for something new. Consider any media, tags, and custom post types.

The permalink structure of your static site should be as similar to the Wordpress site as possible to maintain SEO rankings. In this connection, also set up 301 redirects.

If needed, you can choose a custom structure in Settings > Permalinks.

Going live

Verify that all pages, links, images, and other media work correctly and test on different devices and browsers to ensure responsiveness and compatibility.


  • Check hosting provider/package for Wordpress suitability
  • Make a complete backup of the current site
  • Generate a complete current site map
  • Install Wordpress in subdirectory
  • Install the Maintenance mode plugin and activate
  • Install suitable theme
  • Customize selected theme
  • Make Wordpress site available from the domain root
  • Deactivate maintenance mode
  • Delete old static HTML site files

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