Migrating From Drupal to WordPress?

Migrating from Drupal to WordPress? Here's what you need to know,

Drupal is one of the most popular CMSs out there, with many different organizations and institutions using its open-source platform. It currently powers 2% of all websites 10% of the top 10,000 websites.

Drupal’s CMS has many top-notch qualities, including its fine-grain control over different user permissions, the ability to handle complex queries, advanced configuration management, and a platform that can host large amounts of data storage.

However, not everyone needs the complex capabilities that Drupal offers. While it’s free to use with a strong community of developers and users, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best CMS for you. That’s where WordPress (WP), another popular open-source CMS, comes in.

Here are some reasons why some organizations might want to switch their Drupal CMS to WordPress:

  • Drupal doesn’t have all the capabilities you need.
  • Drupal is too confusing to use.
  • Drupal costs too much money to upkeep.
  • The update from Drupal 5 to 6 to 7 to 8,9,10 is a complicated migration process, whereas WordPress doesn’t require extensive updates.
    • However, it’s important to note that the Drupal 8 to 9 to 10 upgrade is a smoother transition and doesn’t require a migration.
  • WordPress’s editorial process/media management is much easier than in Drupal.
  • WordPress is more user-friendly and doesn’t require as many custom configurations.

The Short Answer

Most folks know that generally WordPress is used for smaller websites often called "Brochure" sites while Drupal is used for larger sites. Why is this?

The biggest reason is in the difference between the business models:

For Drupal, all modules are free and maintained in the same repository, drupal.org. However, for WordPress, many modules are pay, most with a 'free' trail version. The issue happens when developing a module for one of these platforms: The Drupal developer can download all of Drupal's 25,000 modules for free and test their module against those other modules.

However, WordPress developers can't purchase every pay module out there so they are not able to test against many popular modules. The result is that after many modules are installed, bugs start to show. In essence, you are building a house of cards.
For this reason WordPress sites are generally limited in scale. That said, if you like what WordPress has out of the box, it may be a great way to get a good performing and looking website while saving cost. The key here is "out of the box." WordPress tends to get expense when customizations are required.

Contact us to learn more.

Want to know more, here's a general flow used to migrate a WordPress site to Drupal:

1. Make a Map of your Drupal data

When we migrate from Drupal to WordPress, it’s most likely that it’s not just a copy and paste of a simple title and body field. Because of the complexity that Drupal offers, your site is bound to have some custom elements and fields that need to be pulled over and converted to WP.

So, before you begin the migration process, you’ll want to map out all of your Drupal data. This includes (but is not limited to):

  • Authoring information
  • Publishing dates
  • Images and attachments
  • SEO metadata

As you map out your data, keep in mind that you’ll want to export this on a content type or user type basis. This way, you can also import them into your WordPress site using the same method for each type. This is an important step because each content or user type probably also has a different field type.

Then, you’ll use Views and a Views Data Export module to output that content and create an XML, JSON, or CSV file. The type of file you use will depend on what version of Drupal you’re using.

2. Install the WP All Import Pro Plugin

To prepare for the migration, you’ll also have to take some steps on the WordPress side. Specifically, we recommend the WordPress plugin WP All Import Pro, with the advanced custom field (ACF) add-on. What the add-on does is allow us to map fields within Drupal to custom ACFs within WordPress.

After you download the WP All Import Pro plugin, you’ll then upload the XML, JSON, or CSV file you created when you mapped your Drupal data.

Then, decide the data you want to import. Since you are migrating your whole site, you’ll likely import all of your data. This process can include posts, pages, taxonomies, users, or custom post types added by other themes and plugins.

3. Clean up the data with customized functions and sync media

WP All Import Pro will then process that file and prepare the data you chose for import. This is the time where you can choose to configure your import data. You might even need to write some custom fields to clean up, strip out, or map specific data.

This step will look very different depending on your Drupal site and the data you mapped, so it’s hard to say the exact nuances you should look for and the custom functions you might create.

In some cases, you won’t have to make any customizations at all. (Though it’s more likely that you will)

Additionally, sometimes we’ll find that images, PDFs, or other attachments don’t come over or simply fail during the migration. This error leads to broken links, images that don’t load, and other problems with your website.

To overcome this, we use another plugin called MediaSync. Then we SFTP (Secure File Transfer Protocol) the files that didn’t initially transfer over to an uploads directory within WordPress. Then, we use this MediaSync library to sync the data and files to resolve any of those broken assets.

4. After successfully migrating Drupal to WordPress

Once the migration is completed, it’s time to test out your WordPress site to ensure workability.

Pick one of over 8,000 themes, install any necessary plugins, and start customizing content!

Want more help on how to use and grow your WordPress site? Contact us.

What to Consider Before the Drupal to WordPress Migration

If you’re still reading this article, it’s safe to assume that you’re interested in the Drupal to WordPress migration. However, this isn’t something you should jump into without some careful thought and consideration.

After all, if your original Drupal site is more complicated than you thought, you might be looking at a lengthy and budget-pushing migration.

Here are two initial considerations that you cannot forgo when planning your Drupal to WordPress CMS migration:

  • Make sure you have appropriate hosting – Ask SI about full service hosting to ensure you have a hosting environment optimized for Drupal or WordPress.
  • Consider the complexity of your data – Before you start the migration process, you have to look at the complexity of your data. Not every element will transfer over smoothly, especially since the components that make up Drupal sites do differ from what makes up WordPress sites. This will likely just result in more custom code and alterations during the migration. Here are some ways your Drupal data might be complex:
  • If your Drupal site …
    • uses paragraphs or panels you’ll need to convert this to advanced custom field (ACF) content in WordPress
    • has a lot of metadata or redirects it can make mapping your data more complex.
    • If you’re migrating your data into WordPress Gutenberg blocks you’ll likely require custom functions.
    • has a lot of different content or user types this likely also means that they have their own fieldsets and will affect how your data mapping.
    • has relationships between nodes, referencing, and related content, you’ll need to map all of this as well on the WordPress site.

You might feel confident that you can handle this migration on your own. But, it’s recommended to partner with a technology consultant professional for the best results.

We at Simple Information have professionals in Drupal and WordPress development who have insight into the best ways to tackle complex data during the migration process. We can also help you determine if the move from Drupal to WordPress is the best next step without any biases. After all, we aren’t claiming that one CMS is better than the other—just that one might have capabilities that better fit your needs.

We recommend Drupal for clients with complex needs, large amounts of data, and a dedicated team of Drupal contributors using our expertise. If you think you can do without the high-power capabilities of Drupal and would rather opt for something more user-friendly, then WordPress is the right move. But, if you think Drupal will serve your organization better in the long run, our Simple Information team can also assist with any version migrations or updates you need.