You’ve decided on installing a new WordPress theme (perhaps a Bluchic theme!), but making the switch can seem like daunting task.
Was it easy to switch WordPress themes? Will all of my content still be there? Will I lose any information? How do I know my site is ready to switch over to a new theme?
When switching WordPress themes, you can rest assured that all of your content, including media, pages, posts, and comments will remain safe throughout the process. You will not lose any of that information and you do not need to do anything to move the content, as they will remain intact in your dashboard.
Although switching WordPress themes can be very easy, there are precautions you should take before starting the switch to make sure your site is ready. We’ve broken down everything you need to do before, during, and after the switch to keep your website running smoothly.
Before Changing WordPress Themes
1 | Backup your files
Before you do anything else regarding a change in WordPress themes, you must backup all of your files.
This is only a precautionary measure, as switching a theme doesn’t inherently mean you will lose your entire website, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
There are two ways you can backup your files. You can use a plugin or you can backup your files manually.
Plugins such as Updraft Plus and BackupBuddy will automatically backup your plugins, database, themes, content and other necessary files for your website. Usually, backup plugins will store your backup files off-site in a secure location, so you won’t need to worry about anyone hacking into your information.
Updraft Plus has both free and paid versions but BackupBuddy is only a paid plugin. Here are other backup plugins to check out:
BackWPup (free and paid versions)
Duplicator (free and paid versions)
If you run a very large website, though, you may want to consider also doing manual backups too.
As far as what we do for Bluchic, we use BackWPup and do manual backups for our website. Doing a manual backup requires a little bit more technical know how, but we will walk you through it:
- Log into your website control panel. Your control panel is through your website hosting provider.
- Click on the option that says one of these: “FTP access,” “FTP settings,” “FTP account”or “FTP users.”
- Log in and copy the files you want to backup from the correct directory. You do this by typing: “ftp://yourwebsite.com” into a separate browser. Obviously, where it says your website, you would insert your website name there.
- Go back to the control panel and open up “phpMyAdmin.”
- Choose your database. If you only run one website, there should be only one.
- Export the database. There should be an option to export the database.
Once it is exported, you have a manual backup of your site as it currently sits at the time you did the export.
2 | Check your widgets
As a WordPress user, you probably already know how much you use widgets to run different aspects of your website. Most widgets are very easy to use, which means many times users will customize them to their needs.
If you are currently using a widget-enabled theme, you need to make sure the new theme you are going to use is also widget-enabled, otherwise, you will lose any of the data from the current widgets you use.
Most likely your new theme will have different widget areas than your previous theme. After the switch, the widgets you had before should appear in “Inactive Widgets” at the bottom of the widgets screen and you can easily re-drag them to your new sidebar areas.
Make note of your active widgets and any information associated with them to avoid losing any of this information in the switch. You should also remove any widgets that you no longer use.
3 | Copy any website data tracking
Some website owners will copy and paste the Google analytics code into the footer.php file. When you switch themes, that information will be lost, meaning your website will no longer be tracked in Google analytics.
If this is where your Google analytics code is, be sure to copy and paste that information where you will remember so you can paste it back into your new website theme footer.php files. If you are using a Bluchic theme, the Google analytics code can easily be added from Theme Options – Header script(s) without editing the theme file.
During The Process Of Changing WordPress Themes
1 | Put website in maintenance mode
While you are making the switch to your new theme, you won’t want users to see a broken site if they were to land on your website. We suggest enabling a maintenance mode for the time during when you will be making the switch. There are various different maintenance mode plugins to choose from.
If you are using a Bluchic theme, we offer a “coming soon” page plugin (titled the LaunchIt plugin) that is a breeze to install.
2 | Test compatibility with major browsers
You will want to check what your new website theme looks like on all major browsers, including Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, Google Chrome and Opera Browser.
3 | Test functioning and plugins
Try to view your website as a brand new user (or better yet, recruit a friend to help you with this task!), to test all of the functioning of your website. This includes:
- Commenting on blog posts (if applicable)
- Contact page
- Widgets (email newsletter sign ups, social sharing buttons, etc)
- Search function
- 404 error page
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After Changing WordPress Themes
1 | Remove any unnecessary plugins
While installing your new WordPress theme, you may realize there are several plugins that you no longer use. Installed plugins that aren’t being used can slow down your website, so we suggest removing any that are no longer necessary.
2 | Update your ads
If you use any third party ads on your website, you may need to go back and make sure they are showing up correctly. You also want to make sure they are in line with your new brand, so make any necessary updates (link colors, design, etc).
3 | Let your visitors know
Your regular visitors will obviously know that you’ve updated your website once they see your new design, but they have an outside eye that can catch anything that you missed while checking for bugs.
Write a short blog post announcing your theme change and ask your followers to make sure everything is showing up correctly on their end and to let you know if they aren’t. Your fans will want to help make your website a smashing success, so ask for their help!
Final thoughts + worksheet
And that’s it! Changing your theme isn’t intimidating or scary once you’ve taken the steps to prepare and protect your website.
Switching WordPress themes doesn’t have to be a daunting task if you are prepared ahead of time. We’ve included a worksheet to help you safely switch themes.
If you’re ready to switch to a Bluchic theme, head on over to our shop where you can view demo sites for each of our themes and pick the one that best fits your business and brand!