How to Safely Change WordPress Theme?

One of the most common task WordPress website owners perform is switching themes. Simply by changing themes website owners can change the entire look and design of their website. With WordPress changing themes is like the child’s play. However, there are many things to consider before and after changing themes. Switching theme can either give you a headache or it can be a soothing experience. In this article, we will show you how to safely change WordPress theme.

We will not be showing you the actual work of changing the theme since it is very basic. If you are looking for the actual task of changing theme then check our article on “What is Theme in WordPress and How Does It Work?“.

How to Safely Change WordPress Theme?

Things to Do Before Changing Your Theme

Prepare beforehand to make sure that your new theme will work correctly without breaking anything. For learning how to safely change WordPress theme, let’s learn some steps that we should take before

1. Backup

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Better safe than sorry. Never make big changes without backing up your site. So back up your entire website including the themes file, plugins, and database. Backup should be the first step you do before jumping into making big changes.

If you have never created a restoration point before then we recommend you check our articles.

2. Choose the Right Theme

Choose the right theme to replace your current theme. Make sure your new theme fits in the context of your website. Your new theme should match the design and structure of your website. For example, if your old theme has sidebars and widget area then your new theme should have sidebar and widgets enabled as well.

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3. Safeguard the Additional and Manually Added Snippets From Your Theme’s Files

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Over time we do many kinds of manual customization in our theme. The little snippets and codes that we add to increase the functionalities can be lost if we carelessly change themes. To correctly adopt your new theme, make sure you check for all the additional code and snippets in functions.php file, wp-config file, htaccess file and any other files.

If you haven’t created the child theme in your old theme then your manually added functionalities will be lost. You can create a child theme in the newer theme if you don’t have any.

An even better solution will be to create the site-specific plugin and insert all your additional codes into it.

For more info on site specific plugin check our article on “What is Site-specific plugin in WordPress and How to create them?”

4. Take Care of Your Sidebar and Widgets

Not all themes include sidebars in their design. If your old theme had sidebar and widgets then make sure your new theme is widget ready and contains sidebar in its design. Take note of custom texts, images, and advertisements that have been added to any widget ready area. So that if anything is left out in your new theme you can manually insert them later.

5. Don’t Lose Your Tracking Code

This is something we can forget so easily. While adding Google analytics or even search engines to your site for the first time, you were given a tracking code. We generally add these tracking codes in the header or footer file. If you have such tracking code added manually, then make sure you copy that in the newer theme. A better solution is to use the plugins for tracking code. Using plugins will preserve your tracking code whenever you change themes.

Also Read:   How to Convert a Static WordPress Website into Dynamic

6. Enable Maintenance Mode

If any user visits your site while you are working on changing theme then they will end up noticing the messy work and or see a broken site. So activate maintenance mode to prevent visitors from bouncing out of your site with a bad impression. Enable maintenance mode and keep it until everything is working properly. To learn more about maintenance mode check our guide on “How to Enable Coming Soon Page and Maintenance Mode for WordPress Website”

Things To Do After Changing Theme

If you want to know how to safely change WordPress theme then you should also know the things to do after changing the theme. Here are some things you should do after changing the theme.

1. Ensure That All of Your Functionalities and Plugins are Working Properly

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Test your entire website site immediately after you set your new theme. Check the notes that you created earlier and compare the new theme with the old one. Test all of your pages, comments, search, 404 pages, and contact form etc. Check all the plugins and widgets to make sure everything is working fine.

2. Check cross-browser compatibility of your new theme

Your website looks different in different browser. You have to check how your new theme looks in various browsers including internet explorer. It’s even better if you can check on various screens and devices. If you find your new theme incompatible with any of the device and browser, then its time you start searching for ways to fix them.

3. Add or Remove Plugins

The new theme comes with new features and designs. There may be plugins that will be useless in the new theme since the theme itself might be doing the plugin’s work. There may also be cases when your new theme lacks an important feature and you may have to install a new plugin to compensate for that feature.

Conclusion

Technically the actual work of changing WordPress theme is very simple. But the switching process is likely to give you errors and troubles especially if you have used the old theme for a long time. Just because you may get errors and crash your site does not mean you should never change your theme. Use the precautions and post actions mentioned in this article and you will be safe. We hope you liked our this article “How to Safely Change WordPress Theme“. If you have any issues related to the switching themes then comment us down below. Also if you think there are some points missing out then remind us of your comments. Thank you.

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Kantiman Bajracharya

Kantiman Bajracharya

Kantiman Bajracharya is a freelance web developer. He is a computer geek who has a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering. He has earned lots of satisfied customers while working for numerous successful projects. He is also a WordPress theme creator and web article writer. On free time he likes reading philosophy books, traveling and playing chess.

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