Are you planning to change your wordpress theme? It is not a big deal. Changing wordpress theme is easy enough for novice to do. However, lesser-known fact especially to new wordpress bloggers is that this mundane operation may lead to unthinkable circumstances. WordPress is not this simple CMS. You may lose important data you cannot afford to lose at any cost, until and unless you take some precautionary steps before changing wordpress theme.
Here is the reason behind this. WordPress themes differ a lot from each other in various aspects. Layout options, menus, functions can be 180 degrees opposite to one another.
In this post, we will tell you about 11 things you should do before you change wordpress theme of your blog or website. Otherwise, be ready for disaster.
1. Never Put Aside Your Sidebar & Widgets
Perhaps, sidebar is one of the most user-customized areas in wordpress website. May be it is so because sidebar widgets are very easy to use. Many people use it to customize sidebars. Therefore, it is critical to ensure that new theme is widget ready.
A lot of people add custom text, images, links and other widgets. One other common practice is to add advertisements in or outside the sidebar. In case your old wordpress theme was widget enabled and new is not, problems will surface. You can lose all your widgets. So take any measure to remember them. You should also remember that in case you have edited sidebar.php file. Those modifications will also completely disappear. Record them too.
2. Note Down Statistics of Current Theme
If you have been using old theme, there will be plethora of things that will be wiped out after the change. In addition, you also need to figure out if new theme works better or not. Note down the statistics.
Record every detail in it. This is essential for comparison. Very first thing you need to record is loading time.
Usually wordpress web master use Google to find out the solution of any problem they are facing. What happens in most cases is they get their solution in form of snippets or short codes. They have to add these snippets in wordpress files to solve the problem. There is zero probability of remembering these onetime changes. Therefore, you must go through all your theme files and record these changes. Perhaps, you will have to add them again after you change wordpress theme.
3. Ensure proper functioning of RSS
People usually use FeedBurner for their WordPress RSS feeds. It is very important to point out your default feeds to FeedBurner, when you integrate FeedBurner into WordPress. Many wordpress themes enable you to integrate FeedBurner from their settings panel. It is your responsibility to make it sure that feed stays directed to FeedBurner.
If you do not you may end up losing track of many subscribers because they were subscribed using the /feed/ url which no longer points to FeedBurner. Read this sentence again with total attention.
You will lose track of many subscribers, not the subscribers themselves. You will only be unable to see them in your FeedBurner account.
4. Do Not Forget To Back up Your Website
This point is important enough to be on first number. This is a basic precaution, which can save you from any impending disaster. It is always better to be safe than sorry. So ensure the back up of your files, plugins, database etc.
5. Remember the Tracking Code
Never forget to copy and paste tracking code to your new theme. It does not matter that which technique you are using for analytics.
6. Test Every Functionality including Cross Browser Compatibility & Plugins
It is the something you have to do, once you are done with changing theme. Question your performance in preserving all the functionality and plugins.
The notes you have taken would come handy now. You can use them to transfer functionalities. Test your website in all browsers.
7. Do Not Compromise User Engagement
Importance of user needs no introduction. They are the ones you make website or blog for.
If user visits during the procedure of theme change, nothing but broken links would be there to welcome him. You can avoid this by turning on maintenance mode. Do not forget to turn it off later, when you are done with changing.
8. Ensure Good Looks of Third Party Items
Changing theme, in most of the cases results in changing color scheme. Thing to note her is that, third party items will not lose their color. So do adjust them with your new color scheme somehow.
9. Remove Unwanted Plugins
WordPress themes have some plugin, built in by default. Check out which one do your new theme has. If anyone of them is already installed, delete it.
10. Check For Bounce Rate
You must have the old bounce rate in your record. Compare it with the new one after you change theme. In case it increments, you have to take action. Try adding related posts widgets or popular posts widgets for convenience of your readers.
11. Take Audience on Board About the Change
Right after you turn off the maintenance mode, write a quick blog post to let the users know about it. They may help you in catching bugs, by noticing things you have not noticed. It would also increase their trust.