How to Build a New WordPress Website While the Old Site is Live: 6 Simple Steps

It can be tricky figuring out the strategy of setting up a new WordPress website while still running the old one. 

  • How do you set up new hosting and domains? 
  • When do you migrate content? 
  • How do you launch the new site seamlessly?

Not to worry. Migrating live sites to a new WordPress build isn’t so bad! Just take it step-by-step with a plan and be patient. 

In this guide, we’ll explore the process of how to build a new wordpress website while the old site is live.  Making big changes quietly, so visitors don’t notice!

How to Build a New WordPress Website While the Old Site is Live: 6 Simple Steps

How to Build a New WordPress Website

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk through a successful process for building a new WordPress site while keeping your existing site live and online. We’ll cover:

  1. Registering new domains and web hosting
  2. Installing a fresh WordPress build
  3. Using staging and development environments
  4. Migrating content from old to new
  5. Updating DNS records
  6. Going live with the new site

Follow along with these pro tips and you’ll be able to smoothly transition to your new WordPress website while visitors barely notice a thing!

Step 1: Buying New Domains and Hosting

First, you need somewhere for the new site to live. So go grab some new domain names and web hosting just for this project. Brainstorm fun names that are unique from your current domains.

Choosing Domain Names

Brainstorm relevant new domain names that are brandable and memorable. Avoid anything too similar to existing domains. Use domain name generators and thesauruses to spur ideas. Get creative!

Check domain availability and register any names you want on a registrar like GoDaddy.

Setting Up Hosting

Sign up for hosting on a provider like Bluehost or SiteGround for the new domains. Choose a plan with adequate resources to handle your site traffic and size. Don’t skimp here. Point your new domains to the new hosting account via the DNS settings.

Pro Tip

Register new domains for the fresh site to keep things separate from your current live domains.

Step 2: Installing a New WordPress Site

Next, and do a fresh WordPress installation on the new hosting. Build something from scratch without any old baggage. This is your chance to reimagine your whole site!

With fresh domains and hosting ready to go, it’s time to install a new WordPress site:

Creating a New Install

Log into your new hosting account and access the control panel. Use the 1-click installer to set up a new WordPress site for each domain you registered.

Run through the WordPress configuration and set a secure admin password. Log in to the WordPress admin and take a look around – your new site is ready!

Tweaking Settings

In your new WP admin, go through all the settings and make changes as desired. Update permalinks, enable plugins, import media libraries, etc. Get things configured.

Your new WordPress build is now ready for content population and design.

Use a ccompletely new WordPress install so you’re starting with a blank slate for the redesign.

Step 3: Using Staging and Development Sites

Now comes the next part – designing and developing your new WP site. Use staging sites and local environments so you can work safely, without impacting the live site.

As you start building out your new WordPress site, it’s critical to use staging and development environments:

Enabling Staging

Many hosts like Bluehost let you create free “staging” copies of sites. Use this for the new WP. Develop the new design and add content on staging without impacting the live site.

How to Build a New WordPress Website

Local Development

You can also use local development tools like LocalWP or WAMP to build the new site offline on your computer. Sync changes periodically to your staging site for further testing before going live.

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Pro Tip

Keep your in-progress new site separated from the live production site to avoid any accidents before launch.

Step 4: Migrating Content to the New Site

Once the initial design and development of your new WordPress site are done, it’s time to migrate content from the old site:

Exporting Posts and Pages

In your old WP admin, use the built-in exporter to export posts, pages, etc. to an XML file. In your new WP admin, import this content file. The pages and posts will now copy over.

Moving Images and Files

Manually download images from your old media library using a plugin like WP Migrate DB. Re-upload the images to the new site’s media library to transfer them. Similarly, you can download any other files from the old site and add them to the new one.

Migrating Custom Content

For custom post types, metadata, etc. you may need to create custom exports using plugins to transfer them over. Test that all the imported content displays properly after migrating.

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Slowly move content from the old site to the new one. Don’t rush it. You don’t want to break anything along the way. Check each step carefully as you import posts, pages, images, and files into the new WordPress back end.

Step 5: Updating DNS Records

Once most of the content is transferred over, it’s time to start updating DNS records to point to the new WordPress site:

Pointing “A” Records

For domains, you intend to keep long-term, create new “A records” in the DNS pointed to the new site’s server IP. After propagation, traffic will start going to the new WordPress site.

Using 301 Redirects

For old domains you want to retire, set up 301 redirects in the DNS pointing to relevant pages on the new site. This passes SEO value onto the new domain.

Verifying DNS Changes

Use a tool like DNS Propagation Checker to verify that your record changes have propagated worldwide. Test the URLs to ensure traffic is being directed as expected before proceeding.

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Pro Tip

Make only a few DNS changes at first, checking that they work before moving more domains.

Step 6: Launching the New WordPress Site

Lastly,  Flip the switch and send everyone to the shiny new WordPress site. Turn off the old site to avoid duplicate content. 

Once DNS changes roll out globally and you’ve confirmed everything is working properly, it’s time to officially launch your new WordPress site!

Marking the New Site as Live

In the new WP admin, under Settings > General make sure “Discourage search engines from indexing this site” is unchecked so bots can crawl. Submit your new sitemap to Google Search Console and initiate any indexation requests.

Removing Old Sites

Delete or password-protect your old WordPress site so search engines stop crawling it and users can’t access it. You may keep backups of the old site in offline archives should you ever need to reference them.

Announcing Launch

Let visitors know about your new site through social media, email, or directly on your old site through announcements. Drive excitement leading up to the launch and provide links to the new URL!

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Remove the staging or development sites from public access so all traffic lands on the new live site.

A Quick View

Migrating to a fresh WordPress site while keeping your old one life is achievable with careful planning; register new domains and hosting, build the new site locally or on a staging environment, transfer content from old to new in stages, update DNS records to point to the new site and remove the old site once the new one is live

Mission completed – your new WordPress website is now live while keeping your old site accessible throughout the transition. Party time!

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FAQs About How to Build a New WordPress Website While the Old Site is Live

Here are some common questions that come up about how to build a new wordpress website while the old site is live:

Use desktop software like Local, MAMP, or WAMP to install WordPress on your computer for local development before pushing to staging/live sites.

It’s better to register a new domain so your current site remains accessible. You can always set up a temporary redirect from your old domain to the new one.

Use the built-in WordPress importer and exporter to transfer over posts, pages, etc. For images and other files, manually download and re-upload them to the new site.

Conclusion

Moving to a new WordPress site sounds exciting! But keeping your old site running at the same time? Now you have all the answers.

Following this process will help make for a smooth transition to your new WordPress website with minimal downtime. Just be patient and take it step-by-step.

Let us know if you have any other questions about how to build a new wordpress website while the old site is live!

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