I am converting a website from straight html (with tables! Ugh!) to WordPress. The company has a new design every year, and but keeps an archive of their old site(s) with the old design(s) on their website, so people can look back over the years.

Keeping the old HTML archives on a WP site
What would you recommend to keep the old HTML archives? WP doesn't play well with serving up plain HTML pages. I don't really want to go to all the trouble of creating a decade's worth of sub-domains and hosting the archives there (eg, 2009.mydomain.com, 2008.mydomain.com) because then I'll have to go through all those html pages and update any references to the archives as well (not really a problem with grep and sed, just a pain to do). However, thats really the only way I can think of doing it effectively.

Keeping the "annual archive" system
Once the old archives are up and running, how do I "maintain" this system in WordPress? I know WP does a nice archive system, but I'd need to show all the 2011 posts and pages with the 2011 design, all the 2012 posts/pages with the 2012 design. My thought was display themes conditionally -- maybe to add a custom field to each post/page and add a function that checks the custom field and serves the appropriate CSS file. Of course, this requires that the theme templates don't really change much from year to year. Or perhaps change entire themes, conditionally (easy enough to copy this conditional function to every theme). Is there a better way of doing this? The other option I thought of was to export the year to be archived to HTML and serve it up as (eg) 2011.mydomain.com. However, then you lose the ability to search through posts/pages, etc. This is particularly annoying as there is a whole custom-post system planned, and archiving the site annually will kind of negate the benefit of the custom-post taxonomies. I'd prefer to keep the wordpressiness and perhaps just use Apache redirection of future "subdomains" to the appropriate archive, to keep a consistent feel across the site's archives (don't want half the archives accessed via 2006.mydomain.com and the future archives from mydomain.com/archives/2012).

I hope I have explained this relatively clearly. Any suggestions would be welcome.

  • Where are the current archives stored? Already at http://example.com/2009/? And will the pages for the current year be at http://example.com/2011/page/, or http://example.com/year/?
    – Jan Fabry
    May 10, 2011 at 14:33
  • Hi Jan... They are currently stored in some obscure folder, like example.com/backup09/year, except even this is not consistent - some are example.com/backup09/example-year. Pages for the current year will not go under example.com/year since that is one of the custom taxonomies we have planned. I haven't really decided how to permalink current pages. Will probably just do example.com/%postname%. (Yes, I know that is inefficient, but there are only about 10 pages and no posts, apart from the custom post type, which will go under /films/%postname%.) May 16, 2011 at 7:46
  • Is it a possibility to have different WordPress installations (maybe in a network?) per year? Maybe you should come to the chat so we can discuss it there in more detail.
    – Jan Fabry
    May 16, 2011 at 11:11

2 Answers 2


Checkout Stephanie Leary's HTML Import Plugin. She is an expert on importing old HTML pages into WordPress.

You just point the plugin at the existing HTML pages on your server and it pulls them in.

To archive you could create a custom taxonomy for the years and use WordPress archive pages to display them.

  • Thanks for this plugin - even if I don't use it on this project, its very useful to know about it May 21, 2011 at 8:05

I woul probably set up the archive system as a separate multi-site installation with a subdirectory for each year:

  • archive-example.com/1998
  • archive-example.com/1999
  • archive-example.com/2010

This way the old databases don’t slow down you current system, you can use a separate theme for each year and manage all archives from one network account (updates are easier!). Unfortunately, the main site of a multi-site installation has to be a top level domain.

  • Thanks for this - I've never worked with WPMU (or the multi-site option of the merged WP and WPMU)... Is it a pain to get updated? Or does one update automatically update it for all sites? May 21, 2011 at 8:04
  • 1
    @Amanda Updates are as easy as for a single site installation. There is just one install, and you manage several sites from there.
    – fuxia
    May 21, 2011 at 11:27
  • But could you end up with a horribly bloated database with a decade's worth of "archives"? May 21, 2011 at 23:14
  • @Amanda Well … yes. But aren’t many DBs worse than one? Add caching and it isn’t so bad anymore, I think.
    – fuxia
    May 21, 2011 at 23:19

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