Streamlining subscriptions with an advanced WordPress migration

California Sun is the leading daily news digest for California, led by former New York Times correspondent Mike McPhate.

The Code Company seamlessly migrated the site from a custom CMS that was creating tech headaches and hindering growth.

The Challenge

Ensuring a clean migration that maintains functionality and data

When The Code Company first met Mike, California Sun’s existing subscription website infrastructure was failing. Navigation felt confusing and the checkout experience was convoluted and clunky.

Every day, the team received account queries from frustrated users struggling to perform simple tasks like renewing or cancelling their subscription plan.

The legacy, custom-made CMS was also limiting revenue generation possibilities as it was unable to offer flexible payments or gift subscriptions.

Like many of the digital publishers we work with, California Sun is a lean business, so creating efficiencies was a big priority.

Our original website was riddled with errors and confusing prompts about how to navigate it.

It was an engineering problem that was too much for me to take on, so I approached The Code Company for help.

Mike McPhate,  Founder The California Sun

Seamless data extraction and migration

Migrations can be an intimidating endeavour, whether you’ve been publishing for two or 20 years.

We’ve broken down the process into clear steps, which have been perfected over dozens of migrations in order to minimise risk.

  • The first step was to refresh the existing web design and create templates for the new WordPress site.
  • Once the data was extracted, we developed a custom migration tool, which converted the HTML files into new WordPress articles and transferred images from the old server into WordPress

This meant that all of the historical content from the original CMS was safely migrated to WordPress without disruption to reader experience, and with no risk of website outage.

The Code Company is highly competent.

My experience was very personalised and the team were totally up for everything I asked.

Mike McPhate,  Founder The California Sun

Subscription and SEO tools for creators

Following the successful data migration, the new California Sun website was ready for subscription functionality.

Our product specialists integrated SaaS tool Memberful, which is designed with independent creators and lean publishers in mind.

This all-in-one WordPress plugin allows California Sun to ‘outsource’ the technical administration that accompanies subscription-building, while providing valuable audience insight and analytics.

Because the new website was built in WordPress, we were able to add best-in-class SEO tools. This has increased California Sun’s discoverability and made it easy for the team to optimise content for Google.