How to safely & easily change WordPress theme

How To Safely Change WordPress Theme

WordPress is the most used CMS for websites, and you can customize its look and feel on your own. If you’re looking to change your WordPress website’s theme, it’s a simple process, given you have all the right information about it.

To help you take control of your WordPress Website without constantly relying on a developer, we’ve come up with a beginner-level guide on how to change your WordPress Theme without compromising most of your site’s functionalities and content.

And if that doesn’t work out, then there are plenty of companies out there that provide WordPress maintenance services that you can hire to get the job done. But before that, trying yourself isn’t that bad an idea.

So, what do I mean by changing your theme without compromising most of your functionalities and content? Let’s discuss that now.

Does Changing A WordPress Theme Delete Functionalities and Content?

The simple answer to that question is, maybe, depending on the construction of your website

There are certain things that will be impacted, and some things that will come out unscathed when you change a WordPress Theme. Although it’s important to remember that most content might go through stylistic changes, that’s exactly why you are changing your theme in the first place, so I suppose that’s not a concern.

So what things change and don’t? Let’s find out.

Things that don’t change with WordPress Theme Changes

1) Posts and Pages

Your Posts and Pages will remain untouched across the website, which means that the major component of your website will remain as it is.

2) Core WordPress Settings

Any core WordPress setting, such as a static homepage, will remain the same even if you change your WordPress theme. 

3) Core Plugins

All plugins that are not theme-specific and tied to your current theme will continue to function perfectly.

4) Your Site’s Basic Information

Your website’s name, descriptions, and meta titles and meta descriptions will remain the same after the theme change.

It is important to remember that on a website, especially if it’s professionally built, there might be theme-specific elements that will not make the journey to the new theme unscathed. Let’s take a look at what they are.

Things that Will Be Impacted By A WordPress Theme Change

1) Theme-specific shortcodes

If you’re using shortcodes that are theme-specific rather than a standalone shortcode plugin, te shortcodes that came with the theme will stop functioning after a theme change.

2) A theme-specific home page

Some themes, such as Neve, have special homepages that function separately from the WordPress system itself, providing a lot more customization options to the homepage. If your WordPress Website uses such a theme, then the homepage will cease to exist with a theme change.

3) Themes-specific widgets.

If your current WordPress theme came with bundled custom widgets, then those widgets, if already applied, will stop working.

4) Theme Specific Plugins

If your website uses any plugins that are theme-specific, and not linked to the core WordPress setting, then they will also stop working with a theme change.

Additionally, you may need to reconfigure your existing menus and widget areas – but you won’t actually “lose” any functionality with them.

Conclusively, most of your content will survive the theme change without a scratch, but any functionality or page that’s theme-specific and not part of the core software will stop working

Additionally, it’s important to remember that with a theme change, you’ll have to reconfigure your menu and widgets, although their functionality won’t be hurt in any way.

Not that we have covered the things you need to know, let’s start with how to change WordPress Themes

How To Change The Theme of Your WordPress Website

Two things that you should do before changing your WordPress site’s theme is to;

  1. Create a Backup
  2. Create a Staging site.
  3. Make sure you have the latest WordPress version installed. If not, the article linked will guide you on how to do so, and the current WordPress version.

To create a backup of your current website, you can use the Updraft Plus WordPress Plugin. By creating a full backup of your site, you make sure you can recover your website if anything goes wrong.

We’ll talk more about creating a staging site further down the article, so keep an eye out for that. Now let’s start with how to change your site’s theme.

Step 1: Install a new WordPress theme

To install a new theme, follow the following steps:

  1. Go to Appearance à Themes
  2. Click on the “add new” button next to the heading.

3)If you choose a theme from wordpress.org, you can search the name through the search bar and click on install, to get started.

Now that you’ve installed your theme, do not activate it just yet, it’s better to first preview it and test it on a staging site.

Step 2: Preview new theme with WordPress Customizer

The WordPress Customizer is a great tool to help you understand the look and feel of your website and adjust your theme in the preview, before activating it on the live site.

 This helps you identify your website’s new look and make adjustments to the menus and widgets, as discussed above.

To use the WordPress Customizer for preview, follow the following steps:

  • Go to Appearance à Customize from the dashboard
  • This will put you in a view mode, on which your current site’s preview will be shown.
  • Use the customizer sidebar and click on “change.”
  • Next to the theme that you installed in the last step, you’ll see the “live preview” button. Click on it to preview your website.
  • Now you can navigate through different sections of your website to see how the new theme syncs with all the other elements.

Step 3: Create a Staging Site

A staging site is essentially a clone of your website. To create a staging site, you can follow these steps:

  1. Install the WP Stage plugin and activate it.
  2. Go to WP Stage plugins and select the “Create New Staging Site” option.
  • Give a name to your staging website and click the “start cloning” button.
  • Now go to the staging website, install and activate the theme you’ve selected.
  • Next, test your website’s responsiveness manually by opening the website on screen sizes and devices. You can also use Google’s tool for responsiveness testing.
  • Do the same testing manually for different web browsers like Safari, Chrome, and Firefox. You can also use browser stack for this, too.
  • Lastly, check all the plugins and functionalities to make sure your site works perfectly.

Step 4: Activate the new theme

Once everything looks good, and you’re sure that the new theme works perfectly, go to your main site, take a final preview, and click “activate and publish,” and that’s it!

Congratulations! You’ve successfully changed your WordPress Theme!

Wrapping things up

For businesses and site owners, they will, at some point in life, want to change their WordPress theme, which is why learning how to change themes on WordPress is an essential skill.

There’s nothing too technical about changing the themes, and as long as you have the right information, you can get it done without breaking a sweat!

Alas, if things still don’t work out for you, you can leverage WordPress maintenance services, but before you do that, why not give it a go yourself?

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