June 4, 2021

Migrating From Drupal to WordPress: A Simple Guide

Are you thinking of migrating from Drupal to WordPress?

Drupal is one of the most popular CMSs out there, with many different organizations and institutions using its open-source platform. It currently powers 1.5% of all websites and has a 2.5% share of the content management system market, making up 10% of the top 10,000 websites.

This is for a good reason too. 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, 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 is a complicated migration process, whereas WordPress doesn’t require extensive updates.
    • However, it’s important to note that the Drupal 8 to 9 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.

We at Kanopi have written about the nuances and differences between Drupal and WordPress before, so feel free to check out our dedicated article on the pros and cons of each CMS. In this guide, we’ll be diving deep into how exactly you can migrate your Drupal website to the WordPress CMS smoothly—and it only takes a couple of steps!

Considering migrating from Drupal to WordPress? Check out our dedicated guide comparing the two platforms.

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Partnering with Kanopi can help you kickstart your Drupal to WordPress migration journey! Contact us to learn more.

4 Steps to Migrate Drupal to WordPress

1. Map your Drupal data

When we transition 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 WordPress.

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? Explore our ultimate guide to WordPress maintenance and support here.

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 – It’s critical that the host you use for your Drupal site also supports WordPress installations as well. Here are some hosts that have managed WordPress offerings and support the WordPress community: Pantheon, WP Engine, Dreamhost.
  • 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 Kanopi 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 Kanopi team can also assist with any version migrations or updates you need.

Transitioning from Drupal to WordPress can be a complex process. Partnering with Kanopi makes it simple!