7 Things to Do Before Changing Your WordPress Theme
It is inevitable that every website owner changes their website theme occasionally. You might want to replace the existing theme with a lighter theme to reduce loading times, add better customization options, or change the look of the website.
The process of changing the WordPress theme on your site is simple, but you need to follow some prerequisites beforehand to ensure you don’t mess up the live site. We have compiled a list of things you should do before changing your WordPress theme.
1. Back up your WordPress site
Your top priority should be to do a full backup of your website first. When you back up your content and database, you have a replica of the current state of your website. If things don’t go as planned when switching themes, you can always use the backup to restore your site without losing important changes.
Although most users make daily or weekly automatic backups, it is essential to make a new backup and store it in the cloud or on your computer to avoid losing any changes made after the backup. There are a variety of plugins available to perform backups of your website, but UpdraftPlus makes it easy for you.
To download: UpdraftPlus for WordPress (Free, Premium available)
2. Put your website in maintenance to inform your audience
It could be disastrous to change the WordPress theme on a live website. So instead of disrupting the user experience of your website visitors by showing them a garbled web page with scattered content, images, headers and footers, add a message that maintenance is in progress. Classes.
There are a number of ways you can put your website into maintenance, so it looks like changes are being made behind the scenes. Either you can write custom code, use a plugin or use third party page builders. The easiest option is to use a plugin, as it allows you to enable and disable maintenance mode with just a few clicks.
Bloggers usually recommend using the SeedProd plugin to put your website on maintenance, but you can use any free plugin in the WordPress library.
3. Copy code snippets
Maybe you used custom snippets to improve the functionality of your WordPress theme. Depending on how you added them, you’ll have to avoid losing them when switching themes. If you added them manually to the theme file, you must copy them all before making any changes.
If you use a dedicated plugin to add snippets, it may or may not retain those snippets or apply them to the new theme. Either way, it’s best to copy any custom code you’ve added to the theme file or plugin and save it offline. If something goes wrong, you can always use the same code snippets to customize your new theme.
4. Note your theme customizations
You should also carefully note the placement of different elements on your theme, including widgets, header elements, footer elements, custom texts, etc. Therefore, if changing the WordPress theme restores all these customizations to default, you can replicate them manually. after.
It is also essential to check the feasibility of customizing the new theme. Analyze how customizable its fonts and layout are, how easy it is to use with a page builder, and how easily you can customize it using code snippets. So make sure it offers the same level of customization as your old theme so you can redesign it to your liking.
5. Write down your website speed metrics
It is essential to perform a live speed and performance test of your website in its current state on your old theme. You can retake the test after switching themes to compare your website’s performance on a new theme to that of an old one. Therefore, you can undo the change if the theme overloaded your site instead of improving its loading time.
GTmetrix is a great tool for analyzing website performance. Run a performance test and note the performance and site structure scores as well as web vitals. If you’ve used the snippets on multiple pages, you can also check the performance reports for each page to make sure that adding snippets to the same pages in a new theme won’t overload it.
This helps analyze how the new theme handles existing snippets. You can also use other WordPress speed test tools to check your site’s performance.
6. Check theme compatibility on different devices
Your website audience is accessing your website from a variety of devices. Therefore, it is imperative to have a responsive theme that is compatible with all devices. Generally, WordPress themes work great on desktop but have issues on mobile.
Check if the theme you plan to use is mobile-friendly by design, or assess how much effort you’ll need to put into making the theme mobile-friendly.
As part of the compatibility check, keep an eye on your old theme’s loading speed on mobile, check mobile user bounce rate, and track mobile user average dwell time. Later, you can compare this information with the data from your new theme. It’s easy to undo the change or switch to another theme when things go wrong.
7. Check reviews from other users
Getting feedback from other bloggers using the same theme as yours will help you make an informed decision. You can check the theme rating on different websites, read relevant threads on various forums or ask about it in several blogging communities. Make the switch when you are sure the theme delivers what the developer advertised.
Make sure you made the right change
If you make a change, it’s imperative to go back and review everything listed above to make sure you made the right choice. It’s also important to solicit feedback from your audience on this change. Ask your audience about your new website interface and make any necessary adjustments after hearing what they have to say.
Also, check all existing website content and make sure there are no major formatting issues. Then, carefully scan your website for any issues and quickly make any necessary adjustments. Additionally, tracking your SEO rankings in analytics can help you see the impact of this change on your website traffic.
You should permanently revert the change once you see a drop in traffic, an increase in bounce rate, or a decrease in average dwell time. Also, if you are unhappy with WordPress, there are plenty of other CMS options to choose from. Take a look at our detailed comparison of WordPress and Wix.
Avoid using a canceled WordPress theme
Hopefully following the steps above will help you change your WordPress theme without too much hassle. However, to avoid compromising the security of your website, you should ensure that you are using the developer’s original theme file and not a canceled file. Take all possible measures to completely secure your website in both cases.
How to Secure Your WordPress Site in 5 Simple Steps
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