Switching your WordPress theme can breathe new life into your website’s design and functionality, giving it a fresh and updated look. However, the process requires careful planning and execution to ensure a smooth transition without any loss of content or disruption to your site’s live status. Here’s a comprehensive guide on the 9 crucial steps you should take before making that big switch.
1.) Backup Your Website
Before you make any changes, it’s essential to create a complete backup of your website. This ensures that your data, content, and settings are safely stored in case anything goes wrong during the theme switch.
WordPress outshines other platforms in this regard, providing a plethora of backup plugins to effortlessly clone your site to your localhost. Renowned backup tools like UpdraftPlus, WP Migration, and BlogVault are popular choices. You can easily download and install any of these plugins onto your host, without concerns about data loss or security breaches, given their high ratings and trusted reputation.
Moreover, for a step-by-step guide on how to effortlessly and efficiently back up your entire site or blog, check out this informative video:
2.) Review the New Theme
Thoroughly examine the new theme you’re considering. Check if it’s compatible with the latest version of WordPress and has been tested with popular plugins. Ensure that its design and features align with your website’s goals.
Search the internet for recommendations from tech bloggers like Mashable, TechCrunch, Gizmodo, TechSling, Jimdo, SitePoint. Prioritize themes with real user reviews and ratings from trusted download URLs.
Additionally, ensure the theme’s developer offers reliable customer support and consistently releases updates.
For a reliable selection, consider themes like Enfold, eMart, Zakra, OnePress, Flatsome, Bridge, Joyas, and more.
3.) Test in a Staging Environment
Create a staging environment to safely test the new theme. This allows you to explore its features and make necessary changes without affecting your live site.
Testing is crucial for a successful website, and A/B testing is a valuable approach. In an A/B test, you compare two versions of a variable to analyze their performance.
Consider using popular A/B testing tools like Nelio A/B Testing, VWO, Split Hero, and more, available in the WordPress.org repository.
4.) Check for Responsive Design
In the modern mobile-focused landscape, a responsive design is a must. Test the new template on diverse devices and browsers to ensure it’s visually appealing and operates smoothly across various screen dimensions.
Additionally, ensure that the new theme is cross-browser compatible with major options like Google Chrome, Safari, Edge, and Firefox.
5.) Take Note of Customizations
If you’ve implemented any customization to your existing theme, make sure to document them. This might encompass modifications to PHP, HTML, CSS code, or the addition of custom functions. These changes should be replicated in the new template for a seamless transition.
6.) Update Plugins and Core
Before switching themes, make sure all your plugins and the WordPress core are current. Using outdated software can lead to compatibility problems.
For eCommerce sites, this step is crucial. If your site involves online transactions, thoroughly test it on a localhost. Check that the checkout process, shopping cart, shop catalog, single product pages, and user dashboard all function correctly. The same attention should be given to plugins like BuddyPress, bbPress, and more.
7.) Test Functionality
Before finalizing the new WP theme, thoroughly test it to ensure everything is functioning correctly. Verify the performance of features like forms, widgets, sidebars, shortcodes, and menus to ensure smooth operation.
Moreover, focus on your chosen page builder. Prior to the theme transition, create a fresh page using your preferred web builder, whether it’s Elementor, Divi, WPBakery, or another. This precautionary step enhances compatibility and minimizes potential issues.
8.) Error Reporting
After switching themes, ensure your website is free from PHP, jQuery, CSS, and framework errors.
For fundamental programming errors, you can use plugins like Error Log Monitor, Debug Bar, and Log Deprecated Notices. Also, employ the Query Monitor plugin to assess the status of MySQL, MariaDB, and other database servers.
Likewise, Theme Sniffer is an essential tool to check for sanitization, escaping, and WordPress.org standards compliance.
Furthermore, in the beginning, you might encounter confusion between hosting and common theme errors. That’s why I recommend watching a video below, created by Kinsta, to learn about the basics of different error types.
9.) Gather Insights
Before launching the new theme, share it with a small group of trusted users or colleagues. Their feedback can uncover any issues or enhancements that need attention.
Keep an eye on your social networking audience engagement.
Don’t forget to have a record of your previous bounce rate. Compare it with the new rate after changing the theme. If it goes up, take action.
Ensure you gather feedback from visitors, social media, and search engines to roadmap out your next steps effectively.
Explore a variety of related articles.
- How To Update WordPress theme Like A Professional
- Update WordPress URLs in Database
- Change WordPress Theme Name, Image and Fonts
- Change WordPress Admin Password
- Programmatically Explored Sidebars in WordPress
Preparing for a theme switch on your WordPress website is a step-by-step process that demands careful consideration and planning. Following the 9 essential steps outlined in this comprehensive guide ensures a successful transition while avoiding potential errors. By conducting a thorough audit of your current template, embracing best practices, and making use of valuable resources, you can confidently create a new look for your site that is both amazing and error-free.
Remember, the right template switch is a gainful endeavor, not only in terms of aesthetics but also in optimizing your site’s performance and security. By running through this well-curated checklist, you’ll be able to recover and enhance your website’s score, ensuring that your visitors experience a downright amazing interface.
Whether you’re aiming for a minimal or rich design, the principles of layout changing remain consistent. By following these practices, you can confidently change your WordPress theme, creating an appealing and high-performing online presence that engages your audience. Remember, each step contributes to a beautifully transformed website. So, embrace this journey with an overview of the process, and enjoy the rewarding results of an upgraded online presence.