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How to Change WordPress Theme

Category: WordPress
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Although changing a theme in WordPress isn’t incredibly difficult, there are a few risks associated with doing so which must be addressed before making any changes.

Before Changing Themes

  1. Note performance metrics – you’ll want to compare page loading times and bounce rates on the old theme vs the new one, so make note of the current performance
  2. Make a backup – great advice in case things don’t go as planned
  3. Check customizations – if you’ve got tweaks via functions.php in the main or child theme or any hacks you’ve done to make the current theme work, note these down somewhere
  4. Consider maintenance mode – rather than showing the world you deploying and modifying the new theme to suit, fire up maintenance mode and let them know good things are in progress, then activate the theme once it’s ready to go

Making the WordPress Theme Change

  1. Login to WordPress admin area
  2. Click Appearance, then Themes
  3. Click Add Themes – by either selecting the theme from the WordPress themes repository, or by uploading a custom theme [see our separate guide on adding a custom theme for the step by step process]
  4. Click Install
  5. Confirm by clicking Activate
  6. Create and activate a child theme – so that customizations don’t get overwritten whenever the main theme gets updated [see our separate guide on child themes]
  7. Don’t forget those customizations in functions.php that need added

After Changing Themes

  1. Check plugins – make sure all your plugins are working properly – all of them
  2. Check sidebars, menus and widgets – again, confirm things appear as they should and function as intended
  3. Check analytics – be certain that visitors are being tracked as before and that website analytics are working well
  4. Check in other browsers – you can’t rely on just confirming the site works on a desktop or laptop…. it needs to work on mobile devices as well
  5. Make a backup – snapshot the new working theme in action
  6. Check performance – it’s time to compare the new theme page load times and bounce rates, to see how old vs new theme performance varies
  7. Notify your audience – rather than waiting for people to find out you’ve made a big change, post about it on social media and pop a note to your subscribers via email, then listen for their feedback and impressions