Danya Lette

Migrating From Wordpress To Jekyll


When migrating from Wordpress to Jekyll, an obvious first step is exporting your data from Wordpress. Fortunately, there is a Wordpress plugin for that. Unfortunately, some features that we take for granted in Wordpress (such as featured images, and the <!--more--> tag) are not supported out-the-box by Jekyll and may require some extra fiddling.

Getting Started With Jekyll

The obvious first step is getting yourself set up to develop a new Jekyll site. I strongly recommend taking a look at my guide, Getting Started With Jekyll. Before moving forward in the Wordpress migration, you should choose a theme, and also familiarize yourself with the process of overriding theme templates - both of which are detailed in the guide - because, in subsequent steps, we will be overriding theme files.

Export Your Data From Wordpress

Start by installing this plugin into your Wordpress site, activate it, and then use it to create an export. Unzip the resulting archive.

Pages and Posts

If you look inside the unzipped archive, you’ll see that your pages and posts have been converted to markdown files, and these files have “front matter” i.e. Jekyll metadata. Move the pages and posts into your Jekyll project directory. Pages go in the project root; posts go in _posts.


You may also want to update some values in your existing Jekyll _config.yml with the values in the _config.yml generated by the Wordpress export.


You’ll also want to grab your uploads directory. You could just plunk the whole wp-content directory from your Wordpress export into the root of your Jekyll site. This will mean that, in your eventual live Jekyll blog, your uploads will have the same URLs they did in your Wordpress site.

However, personally, I wanted to get rid of the traces of Wordpress, and use a directory structure that was more nuanced. So, I created assets/images/ in my Jekyll project, and moved the uploads/ directory (which you can find inside the Wordpress export’s wp-content/ directory) into my new Jekyll project’s assets/images/.

  -- assets
      -- images
        -- uploads
            -- 2015
            -- 2016
            -- 2017


You might notice that your pages and posts refer to images and files using absolute URIs, i.e. https://my-former-blog.com/wp-content/uploads .... If this is the case, you will need to edit those in order for you to be able to source images and files locally during development, and also in order to reflect any changes you made in the directory hierarchy of your uploads.

In order to resolve this, you’ll have to do a global search and replace. If you made the same change as I did regarding the location of the uploads directory, then you’d be searching for for https://my-former-blog.com/wp-content/uploads/ and replacing it with /assets/images/uploads/.

At this stage, you might choose to get a bit fancier and use liquid template variables in order to automatically prepend the configured site.url and site.baseurl to the paths. In this case, you’d be searching for https://my-former-blog.com/wp-content/uploads/ and replacing with https://danyalette.com/assets/images/uploads/ or something along those lines.

Missing Elements

I found that certain HTML elements got stripped from posts during export, likely due to the conversion from HTML to markdown. Specifically, I noticed missing iframes and script tags. I am not aware of a way to fix this during export - I personally fixed these cases manually without too much trouble.

Your exported posts will likely each have a permalink configured in the front matter (Jekyll metadata) of the post file. The permalink may make explicit reference to your former blog’s URI. Note that setting the permalink on individual posts overrides the global permalink settings. So, I recommend removing these from individual posts (with a global search and replace) and setting a global permalink structure in your _config.yml. Mine is

permalink: /blog/:title

Note that, after editing _config.yml, you will have to restart your development server.

(Notice that I removed .html from the end of the title. You might want to check this out, to support this permalink structure in production.)

A little gotcha: Note that :title is actually the latter part of the post’s filename, and not the posts title: as configured in its front matter.

Read More Tag

I am a frequent user of the <!--more--> tag. My automatically exported posts did retain these tags, but the template displaying my posts feed in my new Jekyll site did not, of course, limit itself to only displaying content before the more tag.

If you’d like to get the <!--more--> tag working, the first thing you’ll have to do is find the template that is used to display post excerpts in the post feed. To start, navigate to the directory that contains your current theme. My theme is jekyll-swiss, so, to open the directory, I just do

open $(bundle show jekyll-swiss)

I located the post feed in jekyll-swiss-0.4.0/_layouts/home.html, where I found:

{% for post in site.posts %}
  {% include post_block.html %}
{% endfor %}

So, post excerpts should be in a file called post_block.html in the _includes/ directory: jekyll-swiss-0.4.0/_includes/post_block.html

In order to override that file, make a copy of it in your Jekyll project’s _includes/ directory. (If you don’t already have an _includes/ directory, create one.)

Then, edit your _includes/post_block.html. In my case, the post excerpt was being generated here on this line:

<p>{{ post.content | strip_html | truncatewords:30 }}</p>

So, I replaced that with:

  {{ post.content | split:'<!--more-->' | first }}
{% if post.content contains '<!--more-->' %}
  <div class="more">
    <a href="{{ post.url }}">Read More</a>
{% endif %}

Static Homepage

You might decide that you don’t want your homepage to display a post feed. If so, then you’ll need to override the current homepage, and create a new page to host the feed.

The index file of your Jekyll site can be found in your project root, in index.md. It should contain something like:

# You don't need to edit this file, it's empty on purpose.
# Edit theme's home layout instead if you wanna make some changes
# See: https://jekyllrb.com/docs/themes/#overriding-theme-defaults
layout: home

As you can see, in order to edit your site’s homepage, you should be editing the file that determines the layout called home. This file should be in _layouts/home.html or something similar. If you don’t have the home layout file in your project, you will need to locate this file in your theme, copy it into your project, and edit in there, in order to override it this layout in the theme. First up, find this file in your theme directory. In my case, since my theme is called jekyll-swiss, I navigated to my theme directory by doing

open $(bundle show jekyll-swiss)

From there, the home layout file should be in _layouts. Mine was in jekyll-swiss-0.4.0/_layouts/home.html.

This file includes a loop that displays an excerpt of all posts, such as

{% for post in site.posts %}
  {% include post_block.html %}
{% endfor %}

If you want your homepage to be static, i.e. not to display a feed, then you’ll need to create a new layout for the feed and move that post loop there. You’ll need to do three things:

Create Blog Index

Create a file in the root of your project called blog.md. It should contain:

layout: blog
title: Blog
permalink: /blog/

Create Blog Layout

Create a blog layout by creating the file _layouts/blog.html. You can put whatever you want in there, as long as it contains a loop that displays all posts. Mine looks like this:

layout: default
<article class="container mx-auto px-2 mt2 mb4">
    <h1 class="h0 py-4 mt-3">{{ page.title }}</h1>
  <div class="col-4 sm-width-full border-top-thin">
  <div class="prose mb-4 py-4">
    {% for post in site.posts %}
      {% include post_block.html %}
    {% endfor %}

Edit Home Layout

Once you’ve copied the home layout file from your theme to your project, you’ll want to edit it so that it contains only what you want to display on the homepage. Mine looks like this:

<!DOCTYPE html>

  {% include head.html %}

      {% include header_home.html %}
      <div class="container mx-auto px-2 py-4 prose">
        {% include about_block.html %}
        {% include tools_block.html %}
    {% include footer.html %}

In order to get featured images working in Jekyll, you’ll need to follow these steps:

Add Data

The first step is to add a field to a post’s front matter if you want that post to have a featured image. I decided to name this field image. Here’s an example of a post’s front matter with an image:

id: 1108
title: Playing Around With LeNet
date: 2017-06-01T19:18:55+00:00
author: danya
layout: post
image: /assets/images/featured/lenet.png

Of course, in addition to adding a field to the post specifying the path of the featured image, you will also have to actually add an image file to that location.

Display Image

Then, you will need to edit a couple of template files.

Any custom field you add to a post’s front matter will be available for use in templates. You can access the value of this new custom variable by doing {{ post.image }}. So, you would display the image in a post by adding <img src="{{ post.image }}" /> to the template that is used to generate post content.

As with other instances that have required overriding a theme file, you will need to

  • locate the theme directory (open $(bundle show jekyll-swiss))
  • find the relevant files (jekyll-swiss-0.4.0/_includes/post_block.html & jekyll-swiss-0.4.0/_layouts/post.html)
  • make copies of them in your project (my-project-root/_includes/post_block.html & my-project-root/_layouts/post.html).

In my case, I wanted to display featured images in both the posts’ excerpts in the blog feed, as well as in the post itself.

To both those files, I added

{% if page.image %}
  <p class="featured-image">
    <img src="{{ page.image }}" />
{% endif %}

Full Base URLs

Don’t forget to consider whether the path of the image (which you have specified in the post’s front matter) is absolute or relative. You may decide that you want to programmatically add the site’s url and baseurl to the image path in the template, by prepending the image path in the template with {{ site.url }}{{ site.baseurl }}.


Hopefully these tips help get you at least part of the way to migrating your site from Wordpress to Jekyll!