The Ultimate Guide to Properly Change a WordPress Theme

The Ultimate Guide to Properly Change a WordPress Theme

WordPress is free software that is useful in creating a website. When using the software to create a website, you will need to select a template for building your website, thus utilizing WordPress themes. A WordPress theme is a combination of codes, graphics and style sheets that enhances the appearance of your website or blog. This article will take you through the process of how to change the WordPress theme. Read along.

Importance of Changing WordPress Themes

From time to time, the owners of blogs and websites need to change the themes to:

  • Enhance the speed of the site. Upgrading to a theme that is lightweight boosts the speed of your blog or website.
  • Improve your site’s design and user experience, which are the topmost priorities for search engine optimization.
  • Ease the management of data and formatting of content.

Whereas it is important to modify the appearance, you need to take a few steps before changing the WordPress themes.

How to Choose a WordPress Theme

1. Select Your Desired Features

Consider the elements you want to include in your site. The purpose of your site and what you want to achieve will guide you in selecting essential features in your big or website. After including functionalities and features that suit your blog or website, be sure to check whether your theme is mobile-friendly. Also, choose a theme that allows you to change or adjust the colour scheme or home page.

2. Know the Total Cost of Your Requirements

Your choice of themes will dictate your budget. Your budget will also enable you to fully evaluate your options and come up with better financial decisions before spending on your themes. Some websites will need videos, images or plain texts. These different needs will help you determine whether to use some high premium WordPress themes or free themes. You may also decide to use both. The money you spend building your site is an investment, and you should ensure that the money you put in will give you your desired output.

3. Choose an Easy-to-Read Font

The font has a great impact on the website as it affects its design. While a beautiful site attracts visitors, the font determines whether they stay or leave your blog or website. It is therefore important for you to choose a font that is simple and easy to read. Also, select different fonts to differentiate different sections on your site. However, limit your font usage to a given number to prevent your site from looking very busy as it will distract the users. The font will enable your visitors to navigate the site hence improving the user experience.

4. Test the Theme

When looking to settle for new WordPress themes, coding is an essential factor. Some of the themes in WordPress have coding that runs without delays and loads smoothly. However, others have heavy and sophisticated designs that slow down the site. Start by finding a theme that is well-coded to make it easier for you. Most themes provide a demo that you can use to test and determine how fast it loads.

What to Do Before Changing Your WordPress Theme

When switching up your theme, ensure that you:

1. Backup Your Site

Create a copy of all your data and store it in a secure place if you lose your original data.

Some of the plans have a real-time backup. This feature is a great advantage for sites that have a lot of activities. However, if the new look does not match your expectation, you may need to backup to restore your website to its previous look.

2. Find a Theme that Suits your Style

There are thousands of theme styles available in WordPress. Finding a single one from a wide range may be difficult. Begin by deciding what elements you want in your brand. Choose a colour and style that sells you as a brand. A style that clients can easily identify you and pick your brand from the rest.

3. Update your Current Themes and Plugins

Before changing your WordPress theme, ensure that you update the current theme and any other plugins or third-party themes. Doing so secures your system against bugs. Also, the updated themes and plugins synchronize well and integrate useful features into the new version making it easier to use the new version.

4. Turn on the Maintenance Mode Notification

Your site is probably still running, meaning that users will still want to access it. However, running it and changing themes will allow the user to see a broken site which may affect your traffic. Turning on the maintenance mode notification will enable you to fix your site till you are certain that it is functional once more.

5. Test Compatibility

Acknowledge the fact that users use different browsers to access your site. Different browsers display the content of the site differently. At times, the themes break in some browsers. As a blog or website owner, you want to ensure that your themes look good in all browsers. Test your sites in all browsers that are at your disposal.

6. Consider RSS Feeds

As you shift themes, you want to ensure that you can see your subscribers and monitor the events on your site. This process is possible if you chose a theme that supports the tools in the setting panel.

Change Your Theme without Going Live

Working on a live website is risky, and not only will you lose data but also interfere with visitors currently on the website. Therefore, it is advisable to first test the new Theme without going live. It will help you to test the Theme and compatibility issues before it goes live. Let us see the various ways in which we can replace a WordPress theme before going live.

1. Live Demo

WordPress provides a smart feature that allows you to discover and preview different themes before publishing them. The live preview mode is helpful since it allows you to create a staging site. A staging site denotes a clone of your site. It allows you to switch to and fro your live site.

To change the Theme on WordPress, go to Appearance > Themes. You will see the currently installed Theme, a list of other available themes and a search bar to allow you to search for a specific theme. When you select any theme, you will see a Live Preview button at the bottom right of the page. It allows you to see a sample output of what you expect. Thus, you can customize the site to your desired specifications and test different website areas without going live.

2. Use Theme Switcha

WordPress allows users to add plugins for almost all their problems. As such, it allows you to preview and test your WordPress theme through Theme Switcha Plugin before going live. In addition, theme Switcha allows you to develop a new Theme in the backend, control who can switch themes, and private previews of any installed theme.

From the admin dashboard, go to Settings >Theme Switcha > Enable theme switching > save changes to apply Theme Switcha.

3. Use a WordPress Host

WordPress hosting companies allow staging of a website for development, testing and publishing. You can use Bluehost VPS WordPress hosting from the admin panel for staging. Select Bluehost >Staging >Create Staging Site> Go To Staging Site. On the staging site, you can customize and test any theme without affecting your default theme.

4. Use Maintenance Mode

The other method we can change the Theme is by enabling the maintenance mode of your website. The mode allows you to make changes to your website while it goes live.

What Next After Changing Your Theme

After activating the new Theme, you need to check what aspects of your previous Theme have been affected. The scrutiny helps you to realize if any crucial details have been left out. Also, you need to know whether there are some parts of your website that have been broken. Here is a checklist of what to undertake after changing the WordPress theme.

1. Update the Permalinks

Permalinks have a unique structure and play a huge role in SEO and website ranking. Updating the permalinks helps to avoid problems of outdated links, broken links and error 404. To update the permalinks go to Settings > Permalinks and choose the appropriate structure that reflects your update.

2. Upload the Favicon

The favicon is an icon that identifies your site across the web and devices. Typically, the icon must be square with a minimum of 512 pixels in length and width. To achieve this go to Settings> Appearance >Customize > Site Identity > Upload

3. Test the Website

Check to see whether all custom functionalities of the website work properly. Scrutinize to see if all pages, posts, contact forms, images and contact forms are displaying as they should. Test all plugins to see if they work as you intend. Finally, check whether the navigation links are working.

4. Check Cross-Browser Compatibility

Every browser parses website code differently. Therefore, it is important to ensure that your website is accessible to all browsers. It will allow you to reach as many people as possible regardless of their browser. Cross-browser compatibility is the action of making your website support various browsers identically. Test to see that your website is compatible with major browsers such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Opera, Microsoft Edge, and Safari, among others.

5. Add a Tracking Code

Place a tracking code on your website. The tracking code helps you to find analytics of your website performance. For example, you will find out how many people are visiting your site, at what time, how they find it and how they interact with the content.

6. Go Live

After adding the tracking code, it is time to go live. Save all your changes and turn off the maintenance mode.

7. Check the Website Speed

Changing a WordPress theme has an impact on the loading time of a site. Therefore, you need to test the loading time of your website and compare it with the previous theme. Suppose it is sluggish check into the guide on how to optimize the web speed.

8. Check For Bounce Rate

A website’s bounce rate depicts the number of people who visit your website but do not successfully convert. Additionally, it could mean that visitors to your web pages do not spend any meaningful time on your content. You may improve this through the quality of your content, add widgets, and make the website responsive to all devices.

9. Ask for Feedback

After making the changes, it all comes down to the users. Their reaction, suggestions, and comments towards the changes significantly impact improvements you should make or maintain.

10. Activate and Publish

Once you are satisfied with the new outlook of your website, the next thing is to go live. To activate your new theme, select Activate and Publish.

If you are in the staging environment, you can activate your new theme in three ways:

  • Deploy Files only
  • Deploy Files & Database
  • Deploy Database Only

Once you select your preferred choice, it will take a minute or two to copy the information. Then, on clicking the production site, you will see your new theme in action.

11. Changing Your Theme while Live

After testing a new theme and comfortable, it has no issues. You are now ready to go live. For activation, go to Appearance > Theme > select preferred theme > click Activate.

Conclusion

WordPress is constantly evolving, and so are its themes. It is thus important to adopt the latest versions of WordPress, and you need to make changes to your current theme. It is much more cost-efficient than hiring computer geeks or website developers to build or create a new website from scratch. Additionally, all the complicated coding is already done for you, and all you need is to install a few plugins and play around with colours, images and text. The guide above is comprehensive and an easy process in changing themes without losing important data.

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