When you find a theme that is perfect for your needs and find out it comes with the option to import demo content, should you be doing that? Now, you are probably asking yourself, “why is Andre pondering that question”? So, on that note, let me give you a few pros and cons of importing content.
Reasons for Importing Demo Content
Importing demo content is a great way to give you a head start and allowing you to begin creating your own site with ease and guidance. Importing content is supposed to be a simple and time-saving process, but is that really the case? If you are someone assuming this, the truth is that it’s not! At first, it seems to be fast and easy, but I will give you my own opinion on this, shortly.
The other reason to perform an import is perhaps you are using your own website content. In this scenario, that makes sense because you are adding your own existing website content into a new one. Maybe you are working on a new site version, troubleshooting, or simply making some structure changes.
Methods to Import Content
The most common way to install demo content for themes is with the WordPress importer plugin. Some people like it and others don’t. The importer plugin is the most basic method for importing demo content.
Unfortunately, it lacks features and capability for a product made by the WordPress people. One, in particular, is the ability to import widgets, so this means you have to manually recreate them. Another is the omission of having Customizer settings imported as well. Why they don’t have this or the widget option is beyond the comprehension of common sense.
Of course, you do have a few third-party plugins that do widgets and customizer export/import as separate options. But, who wants to install a bunch of plugins just for importing, content, widgets, and theme settings!
Aside from the above method, you only have one other option…if the theme you downloaded has its own import package. Even this is not always a perfect solution, but usually, they at least offer the import of widgets and maybe even customizer settings.
Why Importing Methods Are Not Perfect
I’ve been designing themes for over 10+ years. I’m surprised that there is no built-in method for WordPress consisting of a comprehensive export/import feature.
However, let’s talk a bit about themes that come with their own demo content import package. A bonus for many, I’m sure because they usually have a better package with their own custom setup.
The problem with some demo importers is that they are “theme-specific”, so they won’t really work with other themes. The reason for this is that they have predefined positioning of content, blocks, widgets, and of course, theme customizer settings.
Why I Do Not Recommend Importing Demo Content
Generally, importing content is a nice way to get you started, but there are caveats you should consider.
- Time-Consuming – Importing a lot of content can take a lot of time to check and make sure the import worked 100%.
- Things You Don’t Want – Demo sites look great, but importing everything means you will get things that you don’t want.
- More Work Involved – Importing content means more work to open, edit, and deleting excessive amounts of content. This also means it can be time-consuming.
- Learning – Learning how content and page structure was done can require a lot of time. In a sense, you are having to reverse engineer to see how things were created.
Generally speaking, you have to take the time to learn how things were done, laid out, and then put together. You also need to be aware that demo content has to be removed or changed for your own.
If you are new to building sites and new to a theme that may appear complex, plan for a learning curve and expect more time to build your own site from it.
If the theme documentation from the theme developer (author) is horrible or lacks comprehensive tutorials or they are not well written, then consider the import option if you feel having the existing content in place will help you.
If you can avoid demo content, it just might save you more time and frustration trying to reverse-engineer everything to try and get your website set up for your own needs.
Is There Potential License or Copyright Issues?
I’m no lawyer, but know enough that before you import content with images or graphics, to make sure what you are about to use is licensed to allow this. The last thing you want to deal with is some form of copyright infringement because you are using content from a third-party source that was not permitted to use or redistribute it.
Many theme authors don’t package the images they use with their themes due to copyright issues. They might replace them with placeholders, or you could also end up having a dull looking site without images or graphics.
My Own Experience
I’ve gone through this myself in the past, so I can tell you that I’ve had a tougher time reversing demo content with my own content. I should mention that I’ve done this a few times in the past when I was testing out other themes as it relates to the export/importing of content. Most of the time, it ended up involving more work and more time.
I cannot count how many times I’ve heard about people importing demo content into a site that already has content. In other words, if your website is live with content, performing any kind of import will be added to the existing content. Having to reverse that is a nightmare!
My best advice is to avoid importing into a live site; keep it to new (empty) websites only.
One more thing…unless a theme specifically states that demo content is included, make sure you know if it’s just a basic import or if it’s the complete demo website content (including images).