46:2 Handling scary data imports - Lee Matthew Jackson
46:2 Handling scary data imports - Lee Matthew Jackson

46:2 Handling scary data imports

How to import complex datasets into WordPress.

Lee Matthew Jackson
Lee Matthew Jackson
How to import complex datasets into WordPress.

In this series, Lee looks at a range of WordPress tools that can add value to both the development process and client interactions. For each episode, Lee will define a problem, discuss his agency’s solution, and share a use case.

Lee Matthew Jackson - Trailblazer FM ™


Lee Matthew Jackson

Trailblazer FM ™

The problem

When your client presents you with a range of complex, interrelated data in the form of spreadsheets, how do you process all that and get it into WordPress?

The solution

For Lee and the team, the answer is WP All Import, allowing them full control over how all the data is handled and imported.

Use cases

  • Import a large exhibitor list with logo images.
  • Product information that was exported from an old Windows application.
  • Attendee import from a spreadsheet converting into WordPress users.



WordPress tools to try before you die.Sorry about that. Time for the next tool.

Welcome to another episode of our mini series looking at WordPress tools to try before you die. This is our October series paying homage to Halloween. As with our first episode, we’ll first define the problem. We’ll then unveil our solution, and finally we’ll share one or two use cases. Be sure to check out our first episode of this miniseries, where we looked at data heavy website solutions and you can find a link to that in the show notes.

So let’s define the problem in this episode. On numerous occasions when we’re doing a web build, we’ll be presented with a large amount of spreadsheets. This is all the data that needs importing into WordPress. Now, if you listened to our previous episode, you’ll already know the unusual structure of WordPress meta. So now imagine trying to import spreadsheets and getting them into the right format in WordPress add on.

Top of this the requirement to import multimedia that is linked to from the spreadsheet. Originally, our solution would be to hand code something that would pass through the spreadsheet and import the third party assets. And this would take an awful lot of testing and reruns, and we’d hit all sorts of problems with PHP timeouts and so on. So let’s unveil the solution. The solution we found is WP All Import, and you can cheque that out over on wpallimport.com.

As per last week’s episode, there are no affiliate links in here. This is not about getting money. This is about sharing the tools that we use that add value to our agency. And we think you may benefit from it too. The way we use it is we prepare the Excel spreadsheets into their relevant post types, we’ll save them as a CSV, and then we upload the file.

When we upload the file into WP All Import, it will then ask what specific post type we want to import our information into. Next, it’ll give us a preview of the data, and then in the third stage, it will allow us to map all of that information. Three of our most used features include number one, downloading images into WordPress. As long as we put the full URL of wherever that image is, it’s going to pull that in and add it into the media library. The second feature is an add on for advanced custom fields, allowing us to easily map all of those custom fields rather than copying and pasting all of those meta keys.

And number three, perhaps the most powerful feature is the ability to execute any PHP function from pretty much any text box within the importer. You can even pass values from your data to the PHP function. I mentioned earlier that we would build an entire import routine from scratch. So this saves us absolutely hours of code and allows us to still get complicated, as it were, with our information. And saving us hours of development.

So I’ve three use cases to share with you where we’ve used WP All Import as an agency. The first one was to import a large exhibitor list into an event website. This was using the old style post meta structure with post types and we needed to be able to import the logos which were all listed as full URLs. The second was a product import. This was actually exported from clients application so it’s an old Windows application which had tonnes of product information and we were able to import all of that data into WordPress.

And finally we were able to import a massive list of attendees who were attending an online virtual event and they were using WordPress as the online venue. Well now it’s your turn. With the problem that we have with spreadsheets, what would you have used to import data into WordPress and what use cases would you have for WP All Import or a similar product? Click on the link in the show notes to come and have a conversation over on trailblazer.fm. Also you can tell me in person if you would like to head on over to agencytransformation.live because on November the 10th and 11th we are getting together with WordPress agencies from all around the world.

Day one will be a full conference format with awesome speakers and day two will be a mastermind to help apply what we’ve learned and get the combined brain power of the room to help you develop your next steps to your success. So I hope to see you in the comments and I really hope to see you at Agency Transformation Live.


PodcastSeason 46

Lee Matthew Jackson

Content creator, speaker & event organiser. #MyLifesAMusical #EventProfs