If you are like most webmasters or developers you probably are planning a migration when others are sleeping or up late binge-watching the latest Netflix cult classics. Whether migrating from an old web host to a new one or from staging server to production it’s good to have some method to the madness so that you can keep track of the things done or undone during the process. I migrate sites just often enough to know what to do but infrequently enough to need a checklist or a refresher here and there.
Here’s a useful little checklist to save you some time and headaches. It is not a tutorial on how to migrate but the things to do for quality control before and after migration – cus it’s already bad enough you are giving up on your Sunday chillaxing. Tell me if I forgot any juicy details or if anything is obsolete or outdated, pa-leeze!
- Update all plugins, themes, and WP core and test that all is good in the land of WordPress.
- Install, activate, and test all migration specific plugins on the old site or staging so that no unexpected plugin conflicts arise.
- Recommended plugins for migration:
- Better Search and Replace – by Delicious Brains – allows you to search for the old URLs in your links and image src and get them to agree with the new URL quickly
- Theme Check – Do a quick quality check on the site to catch any serious theme related issues. WordPress now has a site health tool in Tools > Site Health that you can run as well.
- Run a virus scan on the old site/staging site with a tool like Securi Site Check or Pentest Tools. It doesn’t hurt to test the new site before migration if this makes sense for your situation.
- Run a baseline GT Metrix on the old site/staging site. Again run a baseline on the target server if it makes sense for your situation.
- BACKUP — After you are done designing and fully testing the old site or staging site, you must BACKUP! Definitely use the old host or staging host backup services. I also recommend making a redundant backup with a plugin like Updraft Plus. If you are a real worrywart you can also copy all of your files with FTP and save a copy of the SQL file using PhpMyAdmin.
- Use the Better Search Replace plugin and enter your old URL (eg. http://startanywhere.media with https://startanywheremedia.com)
- If using a page builder like Elementor you can also run a find and replace it with their built-in tools. Repeat the same process as with the previous step.
- Double-check and reconcile the old site theme customizer settings with the new site’s customizer settings.
- With Code inspector active – check all major pages and archives for a proper appearance and no unexpected console errors.
- Check your cookie notice – is it working properly?
- Check your marketing popup trigger conditions – oftentimes set too frequent during testing
- Test all contact forms and see if you receive the email notifications
- Run another virus scan such as Securi Site Check on the production site
- Run GT matrix scan on the new site
- If using an SSL certificate test that it is properly configured with an SSL Checker.
- Also, check for insecure or mixed content with JitBit SSL Check
- Go to Settings > General and make sure the website domain name show with https… if not, then update the domain name phpmyadmin and accessing the options table in the db.
- Check the wp-config.php file and make sure the config file show a force SSL condition.
- If using a toolset plugin like Jetpack check that it is properly set up and which modules are running and disable or enable as needed.
- If selling product, test purchase in sandbox mode and then in live mode with real money. Make sure all admin and customer email deploy as desired and with the copy your desire.
- Run a return of funds on a prior test sale using real money.
- Check for broken links using a tool such as Broken Link Checker.
- Hide any old pages or posts that you do not wish to display
- For disused pages or posts be sure to document and write 301 redirects as necessary.