Switching a theme is an important decision that every website owner makes at least once every few years.
Of course you have to decide your reasoning of why you’re switching, and pick a theme that suits all your needs.
Once you have chosen the theme that you want to switch to, it’s important that you follow the checklist below to ensure that you don’t lose any content or data during the process.
Do you intend to redesign your WordPress site?Things You MUST DO Before Changing WordPress Themes. is outlined here.
1. Make a list of any WordPress theme customizations that you’ve made.
Some WordPress website owners alter their themes by simply inserting code snippets into the theme files. Code snippets can let you add additional features to your website that aren’t included in the default theme.
However, if you add such snippets to your theme files directly, it’s simple to lose track of them.
If these modifications were made by you or a web developer, make sure you look through your current theme files and record all of the new code.
We always propose using a site-specific plugin or a code snippets plugin to add code snippets in the future. You’ll be able to maintain those snippets even if you switch themes later.
2. Get the most up-to-date performance metrics for WordPress themes.
Before you change your theme, make sure your present website’s loading speed and performance are satisfactory. This allows you to compare any changes in page load time after switching themes.
Because WordPress speed and performance are so critical for user experience and SEO, you’ll want to be sure the new theme is quicker than the one you’re currently using.
Using a WordPress speed testing tool like IsItWP’s free website speed testing tool, you can simply verify your existing website speed metrics.
3. Make a list of the present sidebars and widget spaces in the theme.
Sidebars are used to add widgets to your website such as email newsletter registration forms, social media buttons, popular posts, and more.
Because each theme has different widget areas, when you switch themes, your widgets may unexpectedly shift or disappear from your site.
As a result, before moving themes, make a list of the widgets you’re utilising in your WordPress sidebars and any other widget places on your website. Then, after switching, you can quickly replicate them.
If you utilised any custom code or shortcodes, make a copy of them and save them somewhere safe so you can use them with your new theme.
4. Existing WordPress Tracking Codes should be copied.
Many users will directly add analytics tracking code to their theme files. Some WordPress themes also let you insert tracking codes straight into the theme settings panel.
It’s common to ignore these crucial tracking codes.
Make a duplicate of all of your website tracking codes that you use for analytics, advertising, and other purposes so that you may integrate them to your new website.
If you want to make things easier for yourself, we recommend installing Google Analytics in WordPress using a plugin like MonsterInsights.
You can be confident that there will be no delays to your analytics or data loss if you use MonsterInsights. You’ll also have access to additional tracking, such as link clicks and button click tracking.
5. Make a backup of your current WordPress website.
Backing up your website on a regular basis is usually a smart idea. Before you change your theme, make a comprehensive backup of your posts, pages, plugins, media, and databases.
The simplest method is to use a WordPress backup plugin to generate a backup of your complete site. See our article on how to backup your WordPress site using UpdraftPlus for more information.
This will assist guarantee that your website can be readily recovered if something goes wrong when switching themes.
6. Set your WordPress site to maintenance mode.
When making updates to your website, it’s usually a good idea to place it in maintenance mode. In maintenance mode, you may provide a user-friendly notification to your visitors.
Example of a Maintenance Mode Page
This prevents your visitors from seeing your website while it is still in the works.
We propose utilising the SeedProd plugin for this. It’s the greatest drag-and-drop WordPress page builder, with over 1 million websites using it.
It makes it simple to design custom maintenance mode pages, landing pages, coming soon pages, 404 pages, and other pages.
8. Test all functionality and WordPress plugins that have been installed.
Once you have activated a new WordPress theme, you must confirm that you have the same functionality as before and that all of your previous plugins are compatible with your new theme.
Begin by reintroducing the code snippets you downloaded from your previous WordPress theme files. More information may be found in our beginner’s guide on copying code snippets into WordPress.
Then, spend some time using the WordPress plugin-powered features on your site. If you are currently encountering any difficulties, please visit our beginner’s guide to troubleshooting WordPress errors.
9. Examine the theme’s compatibility with various devices.
Your website’s audience reaches it via a number of devices. As a result, it is critical to have a responsive theme that is suitable with all devices. In general, WordPress themes operate well on computers but have difficulties on mobile devices.
Check to see if the theme you intend to use is mobile-friendly by design, or estimate the amount of effort required to make the theme mobile-friendly.
Keep an eye on your previous theme’s loading speed on mobile, the bounce rate of mobile users, and the average stay length of mobile users as part of the compatibility assessment.
You may then compare this information to the data on your new theme. When you want to undo the modification or move to another theme, it’s simple to do so.
10. Inform Your Users That Your New Website Is Now Live
The functionality of plugins is being integrated into newer themes, and employing as few of them as possible is optimal for quick loading times. Several obsolete plugins can frequently be replaced by a new theme. When feasible, keep these plugins to a minimum to optimise a site’s overall operation. Slow loading speeds force some consumers to reconsider visiting a certain website.
To discover if your theme has included any new plugins, navigate to Plugins » Installed Plugins.
Now is also a good time to check over your complete plugin list and see if there are any plugins that should be removed.
If you’re searching for high-quality plugins to go along with your new theme, check out our list of the best WordPress plugins.
11. Inform Your Users That Your New Website Is Now Live
When you’re ready to go live with your new WordPress theme, you may disable maintenance mode.
You should also contact your readers to inform them about your new website. This will prepare your audience so that any major design changes do not confuse them, and it will also assist to keep your subscribers interested and returning to your site to see the new look.
Here’s an example of a Facebook post regarding our new website overhaul.
We recommend informing your audience via email, social media, and push alerts.
If you’re seeking for other methods to market your website, check out our tutorial on how to share your blog content with others.
12. Note Your Website Speed Metrics
After you’ve uploaded your new theme and performed the preceding steps, it’s time to conduct another speed test. Your redesigned website should be faster and have higher speed test results.
Simply use the same website speed tool as before and compare the results.
If the new theme is slower than the previous one, do multiple tests from different locations, and look for any cache or firewall settings that may be causing the decline.
GTmetrix is an excellent tool for evaluating the performance of a website. Conduct a performance test and record the site’s performance and structural scores, as well as the web vitals.
If you’ve used the code snippets on several sites, look at the performance data for each one to ensure that adding code snippets to the same pages in a new theme won’t overload it.
13. Keep an eye on your WordPress website’s bounce rate.
The bounce rate is the percentage of visitors that come on your website and leave without progressing to the next page. A high bounce rate suggests that you were unable to persuade your visitor to stay long enough on your site to take action.
After changing themes, it’s vital to keep an eye on your bounce rate. When it comes to aiding users in navigating your site, certain themes are just more user-friendly.
If your bounce rate has grown since switching themes, you should try to lower it. You may do this by improving your navigation menus, adding additional internal links, implementing a popular posts widget, and using other approaches.
14. Make use of visitor’s feedback.
If visitors are experiencing difficulty utilising the new theme, make changes based on their input. Perhaps a different topic would be preferable. Because traffic is the most essential thing a website need, listening to visitor comments is critical to keeping the audience interested. Fortunately, WordPress provides a plethora of themes to select from.
For those making these changes for the first time, changing a WordPress theme can be frightening, but following the 10 steps listed above can help make the process go more easily. Using a new theme can allow for a complete site revamp with no effort. Making certain that everything looks beautiful, operates well, and tracks properly will aid the success of a freshly renovated website.
15. Check to Make Sure You Made the Correct Changes.
If you make big changes, you must go back and verify everything indicated above to ensure you made the correct decision. It is also critical to seek input from your target audience on this adjustment. After listening to what your audience has to say about your website’s new interface, make any required changes.
Furthermore, review all current website material to ensure there are no severe formatting concerns. Next, carefully examine your website for any flaws and make any required changes as soon as possible. Furthermore, analysing your SEO ranks in analytics can assist you in determining the impact of this modification on your website visitors.
Bonus tip- Use of a Nulled WordPress Theme Should Be Avoided
Following the methods outlined above should allow you to change your WordPress theme without too much difficulty. To prevent jeopardizing your website’s security, make sure you’re utilizing the original theme file from the developer rather than a nulled one. In either case, take every precaution to thoroughly safeguard your website.