Help with a WordPress website conversion
May 16, 2012 7:49 AM   Subscribe

I need a little advice about a WordPress site. I'm helping to redesign an existing website, the owner of the site is requesting a WordPress conversion. Everything's been set up, but it might not be in the right place.

WordPress has been installed on the hosting server, in the root folder of the existing site. The WordPress pages are a work in process, and are "hidden" in the existing site. ie:" It's search engine blocked, so the only way it can be seen by anyone is if they know that url. That may not have been the best way to do things, I know.
But, it's there & we've added a bunch of content.

My question is this: When we are ready to go live with the WordPress site we are working on that is currently hidden, what is the best way to go about making that happen?
I'm not a developer, so please explain it to me like I'm dumb. Any advice is much appreciated!
posted by anonymous to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I have had to do this more than a couple of times.

Basically, you need to go to Settings and change the URLs to the root of the domain (so if it's "" change it to "") then move everything to the root through FTP.

You can find step-by-step instructions at the WordPress Codex.
posted by Memo at 7:55 AM on May 16, 2012

I'm curious about the answer, too. WordPress has made alot of advancements and improvements, with the MU settings and ability to host off of the root but viewed as if from the root, but I've never been able to make it work.

Anything that I put up as can sometimes show up as or, but never reliably enough to be able to put things at and make it show up as - so if I want to test things to change, I can't do and feel certain it will show up and work as not destroying things when I nuke
posted by tilde at 7:57 AM on May 16, 2012

Basically, you need to go to Settings and change the URLs to the root of the domain (so if it's "" change it to "") then move everything to the root through FTP.

That's a horrible sounding solution, eek. Especially for folks like me who use a 'hosted' solution like DreamHost and are not supposed to do that to support the supported installs (gives some flexibility and ease of use to do it that way and use a lot of their auto tools.

Surely WP has another way?
posted by tilde at 7:59 AM on May 16, 2012

tilde: "Surely WP has another way"

I was talking specifically about moving a test installation (with content, widgets, etc) to the final production url.

I'm not entirely sure what you want to achieve?
posted by Memo at 8:05 AM on May 16, 2012

Follow these steps:

Tilde, it's a little scary but it really works. the htaccess is bulletproof if you follow the steps.
posted by michaelh at 8:05 AM on May 16, 2012

When you're ready to make the WordPress site live, go to http://[yoururl]/wp-admin/options-general.php

There are 2 boxes you should pay attention to:
WordPress Address (URL) - This is where you have WP installed & should not change.

Site Address (URL) - This is currently the same as the box above. Change the URL so that it is the main URL of the site. Then click "save changes" at the bottom of the screen.

My next step would be to grab a copy of all the old site files from the server & remove them.
posted by belladonna at 8:07 AM on May 16, 2012

I was, too, Memo - in the past I've just left the production site at, the put up to build the new site, then nuked and re installed everything I did at

pain in the butt but it got done.

trying to do what belladonna suggested just ended up with broken urls and a complete inability to log in.
posted by tilde at 8:12 AM on May 16, 2012

sorry, hijack, I'll just butt out :)
posted by tilde at 8:12 AM on May 16, 2012

(I mean, don't delete the old site's files until you've changed the URL settings in WP. But depending on your server settings, you may not see the new WP site until you've removed the old files. It just depends on the order your server is set to display index files. (For example, index.html then index.htm then index.php means that the old index page might show up rather than the new WP index page.))
posted by belladonna at 8:12 AM on May 16, 2012

If you want to move everything manually to the root directory (and this is an install you did manually, rather than a one-click install through something like fantastico), follow these directions. I use these steps at least once a week & they work just fine, as long as you're careful.
posted by belladonna at 8:25 AM on May 16, 2012

You don't need to move everything. There is a link right in the settings of Wordpress that explain exactly how to resolve the site at the root domain. You make one simple change in the header.php file that tells Wordpress where to find the files. It takes 15 seconds.
posted by COD at 9:04 AM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Not header,php - it's index.php. You move it from /wordpress1849 to the root directory, edit the path to Wordpress in the index.php file, and make the change in settings. All the files except index.php can stay where they are.
posted by COD at 9:06 AM on May 16, 2012

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