How to Change Your WordPress Theme Safely – [Full Guide]

Ritesh Sharma March 12, 2019

How to Change Your WordPress Theme Safely – [Full Guide]

Theme changing looks simple in WordPress but it actually isn’t that easy. A little mistake can lead to losing vital elements. In this article, I am going to share a list of checks to be performed before, during and after the theme change to prevent loss of any features or functionality during the process.

Here we go…

1. Make notes of all the changes made in the theme files:

Most of us surf the web to find solutions to our problems and so do the WordPress users. Often the solutions are found in the form of snippets and they are added manually to the theme. The changes being made once, developers tend to forget them which may lead to a number of problems after the theme change. Therefore, it’s advised to go through the theme files and make notes of all the additional codes that you added.

Also, you should note down the loading time of the website with the existing theme so that you may compare it with that after the theme has been changed.

2. Take backup:

Generally theme change doesn’t lead to any kind of data losses but still, it’s advisable to backup all your theme files, plugins, and database. You may use a plugin like BackupBuddy to create a backup of the complete website.

3. Safeguard tracking data

Most of the bloggers use following code for Google Analytics or Adsense or any other similar services. On the other hand, most of the developers don’t use plugins to add tracking codes. In order not to lose the track, you should always copy the tracking codes from your existing theme and paste the same into the new theme. It is such a simple thing that it gets ignored in most of the cases.

4. Turn on maintenance mode

None of us would ever like that someone visits our website to find a broken website or some weird looking error page. To avoid this kinda embarrassment, you should switch on the maintenance mode before you start working on changing the theme and switch it off only after the process is over and testing is done.

5. Testing all functionality and plugins

One of the challenges that you may often face is to retain all the functionality and working of plugins after the theme change. Step 1 of this checklist comes to the rescue when we face this challenge. Go ahead and add any or every functionality and plugin that you want to transfer from the old theme to the new theme. Also, check that all the widgets are in place again and are in working condition. Talking about the plugins, you must ensure that the formatting is the same as it was in the older theme.

Talking about the plugins, you may want to ensure that they look good with the new theme also. In order to do so, you need to make sure that the formatting is retained as it was in the previous theme as most of the plugins make use of the existing styles to display the output.

6. Taking smaller steps during changes

While working with a new theme, it’s recommended to make changes carefully. Make small elemental changes until you get well versed with semantics and structure of the new theme. Once you develop that kinda understanding, you may go ahead with drastic changes in the theme.

7. Test site load time

Refer to the notes taken in the first point of this writeup and check the loading time of the website before the theme change. Now check the website loading time after the theme change and compare the two. It’s good if it is the same or less than before but in case it’s more than before, you need to look into it and take corrective action.

8. Get feedback from users and improve the website

Users are always excited about new designs and they come out with lots n lots of suggestions. We should welcome all kinds of suggestions and feedback. We must communicate with the users through surveys & polls on twitter, facebook or any other possible media to map their expectations and work towards the improvement.

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