Simplifying subscriptions for California Sun

California Sun migrated seamlessly from a custom CMS to a WordPress-powered subscription website.

With account headaches eliminated, the team was free to focus on publishing content

“Our original website was riddled with errors and confusing prompts about how to navigate it. It was an engineering problem that was too much for me to take on , so I approached The Code Company for help.”

Mike McPhate, Founder –

The California Sun


Create efficiencies and a platform for growth

California Sun is the leading daily news digest for California, led by former New York Times correspondent Mike McPhate. When he approached The Code Company, his existing subscription website infrastructure was failing.  

Navigation felt confusing and the checkout experience was convoluted and clunky.

Every day, the team received account queries from frustrated users struggling to perform simple tasks like renewing or cancelling their subscription plan.

The legacy, custom-made CMS was also limiting revenue generation possibilities as it was unable to offer flexible payments or gift subscriptions.

Like many of the digital publishers we work with, California Sun is a lean business, so creating efficiencies was a big priority.

our approach

Seamless data extraction and migration

Our digital strategists recommended a move to a WordPress-powered publishing platform, with specialist tools to streamline payments and account management.

Migrations can be an intimidating endeavour, whether you’ve been publishing for two or 20 years.

We’ve broken down the process into clear steps, which have been perfected over dozens of migrations in order to minimise risk. 

  • The first step was to refresh the existing web design and create templates for the new WordPress site.
  • Our migration specialists then performed a data cleanup to extract the HTML files from the existing database. 
  • Once the data was extracted, we developed a custom migration tool, which converted the HTML files into new WordPress articles and transferred images from the old server into WordPress

This meant that all of the historical content from the original CMS was safely migrated to WordPress without disruption to reader experience, and with no risk of website outage.

“The Code Company is highly competent.

My experience was very personalised and the team were totally up for everything I asked.”

Mike McPhate, Founder –

The California Sun

SIMPLIFYING subscriptions

Subscription and SEO tools built with creators in mind

Following the successful data migration, the new California Sun website was ready for subscription functionality.

Our product specialists integrated SaaS tool Memberful, which is designed with independent creators and lean publishers in mind.

This all-in-one WordPress plugin allows California Sun to ‘outsource’ the technical administration that accompanies subscription-building, while providing valuable audience insight and analytics.

Because the new website was built in WordPress, we were able to add best-in-class SEO tools. This has increased California Sun’s discoverability and made it easy for the team to optimise content for Google.

Memberful is really robust with a seamless and user-friendly interface. I no longer get daily account queries, so that’s just wonderful!My experience was very personalised and the team were totally up for everything I asked.”

Mike McPhate, Founder –

The California Sun