Tips for converting a Visual Composer or similar website
This post is a little bit “in the weeds” for regular business owners, but this might come in handy for more adventurous do-it-yourselfers and less-experienced WordPress professionals.
On a closed Facebook group for WordPress users someone asked
I’ve never converted a Visual Composer website to [another page builder.] I imagine it is a total rebuild from top to bottom? Any ‘best practices’ to convert a site that used VC?
Rebuilding usually is the best bet with shortcode-intensive page composers, though in some circumstances the following information might be helpful. All might not be lost but it can be a bit of a pain if you don’t know where to start.
It’s never a bad idea to rebuild from scratch, since Visual Composer most often comes included in “shovelware” themes that have all sorts of other less… necessary plugins, post types, and “demo” content.
I’ve done seven or eight conversions from shortcode-based page builders or Themes (Visual Composer, Aveda, Divi.) The good news is that the shortcodes tend to come in giant chunks.
The other good news is that DIY and low-cost “professional” sites made with Visual Composer rarely use too many features. These kinds of tools tend to be complicated, so most do-it-yourselfers tend to keep it simple.
The following steps will work for converting to other page builders or Gutenberg blocks, or even plain-old classic pages. So if the site isn’t too weighed down you might try the following:
- Disable Visual Composer and any VC-related helper plugins
- Add your page builder if you’re using one
- Open a page with the editor of your choice
- All the old content will be in one giant text or “classic” module
- There will be acres of [shortcode] blocks.
- With just a little bit of practice you can figure out what’s inside the shortcodes — it’s usually an opening block, headers, images, or sometimes column blocks.
- Cut everything out that doesn’t look like real information (e.g. header text, image links.)
- Next, you’ll need to re-apply header formats and re-insert images from the Media Library. If it’s an information-only page that may be all you need to do.
- If the layout you’re copying is a little more complex you may need to add columns and edit/paste content from the main block into smaller chunks.
- If the layout also includes dedicated module content — for instance galleries, slide shows, or contact forms that are built into Visual Composer — you’ll need to re-create those with new tools.
This is useful mainly for sites with lots of simple posts or pages. You’ll usually still have to rebuild the homepage, the contact page, and other “main” pages with more complex content. But I did it recently for a site with tons of reference pages and once you know what you’re looking for it can go pretty quickly.