Convert a static website to CMS Made Simple

This section has not yet been updated for version 2.0. We're working on it!

Step 1

Install CMS Made Simple on your production hosting:

So you have a internet domain for your site, say Your old plain HTML pages are available at,, etc. And your old home page is This name "index.html" is the default of the webserver as its configuration states:

DirectoryIndex index.html

You are going to install CMSMS which is PHP software. The webserver now needs to respond to it. Update your webserver configuration like this:

DirectoryIndex index.html index.php

This means that when is requested, the webserver will first look for (and still serve your home page) then for and then answer 404 not found if none is available. Hopefully your hosting provider already has set up this for you. As you are moving from the HTML site to the PHP one, it is important to have the indexes in this order, so you can build your CMSMS PHP site while still broadcasting the old HTML one. When you are finished building, deleting (or renaming) your old index.html will switch your webserver to the new PHP powered site.

The idea is to migrate in the background and to switch when ready:

  • Once you meet the hosting requirements, install CMSMS following the guide.
  • Keep your static pages along for the moment.
  • Check the CMSMS install is working. (you can copy/add a page/template/style sheet and modify it...)
  • Check the old HTML site is still available. (,, etc are still available)
  • You can start to customize the dynamic site with themes.
  • You need to activate external (webserver's mod_rewrite) pretty URLs. See the optional settings in the install guide.

Step 2

Move your content:

Now it is time to start "replicating" one simple static page and then to treat all of them.
For example

  • Log in the admin.
  • In the content, create a new page.
  • Important: give it the "aboutus" alias.
  • Set its title from the old static page's title.
  • Copy the content of you old static page and paste it in the new page.
  • Assign a template to the new page.
  • (Backup and) delete the old aboutus.html file on the webserver.
  • Browse to to see the new dynamic content responding.

Check that links like still serve old static files and that links to and from the new dynamic page works. Then you can wait 2-3 weeks and see how search bots have responded to the change. If they treat it like the static file it has replaced, you can go on moving the content while keeping your URLs (and your ranking) thanks to aliases.

Lastly you move index.html's content, delete the file and thanks to pretty URLs the Net still sees your home as index.html.

Step 3

Enjoy new features:
You have now a dynamic site. You are able to manage more pages (and several editors) and keep harmony thanks to templating. But you get more than that:

  • Menus are dynamic. You can customize them with Menu Manager.
  • The map of your site is generated by a simple {site_mapper} in any page or template.
  • Play with the News module.
  • Try other modules: CGBlog, Front End Users, Gallery...