If you own a blog or a WordPress website for quite a time now, you must have been through the ordeal of switching to a new WordPress theme with the objective of updating your site. You might also be aware of the fact that, with a few clicks, anyone can easily change their WordPress theme in no time. However, changing a WordPress theme is not a casual thing to so and it requires proper consideration.
After you have chosen the right theme for you, there are points to be considered before you actually begin the switching process. All of us want a fabulous end result when it’s about our blogs or websites because a lot of planning and effort goes while you make a blog/website available for public viewing. If you miss out on a few subtle elements, you and your WordPress website will have to suffer troublesome consequences. Here’s a checklist of the ‘must do’ things that you should keep in mind while changing your WordPress theme.
Take a Backup
It’s always safe to take a backup beforehand. And when WordPress is offering you the easiest way to backup your data, why wouldn’t you! Won’t it be great to stay confident like you don’t have anything to lose, than worrying later about what you have lost! Though, there should not be any kind of data loss while changing WordPress theme; but it is always better to backup your database, theme files and plugins. So, that if you need any of these later, you can get them. There are many useful plugins available for backup of your WordPress website, you can review them and pick the best suited plugin.
Take a note of your current theme’s features
The reason behind changing a WordPress theme is generally to upgrade the site or find a solution to the existing theme related issues. While using a particular theme, users generally keep on adding snippets to deal with their theme related problems, such as functions.php. And later on, in the process of engaging themselves in so many different activities, they finally forget what the changes they once made are. Therefore, it’s important that you go through your theme files and take note of all the extra code you added. By taking a note of your current theme features, you can easily change to another WordPress theme later, by comparing the features of the two.
Check the Functionality of Plugins
Before making the big switch, make sure that the plugins you currently use are also compatible with the new WordPress theme of your choice. When the new WordPress theme gets activated, you need to check whether you still retain the functionality and whether all the plugins are working perfectly. The new theme should work perfectly if everything is formatted and re-added correctly. But you can always make sure that the plugin still looks good and functions with the new theme in action. You can add all the functionality and widgets that you want to add from your old theme to your existing one. Here you’ll find the ‘noting down all the features codes’ quite handy.
Don’t Miss the Sidebars
A WordPress site’s most customized element are the Sidebars, simply because they are so easy to customize.Sidebars let you add all sort of crucial content in the form of text, links, images, etc. All themes have a different coding structure when it comes to the position of the sidebar. In fact, many WordPress users modify their theme’s sidebar.php file. It is needless to ask a user or admin to remember the code they employed while customizing their Sidebar with the previous theme. Take a note of that too.
Inform Your Readers
You cannot just lay off the skin of your WordPress site and leave your readers with nothing. It is imperative to leave a ‘Maintenance mode’ page so that they know that the site will eventually be back.
Once you’re done with making all the changes and checking all the features’ functionality, after switching to a new WordPress theme; it’s time that you inform your readers the same. Take your site off from the maintenance mode and make a quick post to let your readers know about it. There’s no chance that you could have got all the bugs, as you’ll be spending only 15 to 20 minutes on checking stuff.
Testing compatibility across all Browsers
After you have taken down all the necessary notes and made the switch, it is very important to test your site across different browsers. This is so because different browsers render appearances and designs differently on their interface. The theme might appear broken or display non-functional elements in some or the other browser. So, make sure that your new theme delivers the expected look and functionality across all the browsers, in an impressive and functioning manner.
If you haven’t considered it earlier, a mobile responsive website is a major compulsion now. Also, check the website speed through tools like Pingdom to check if the new theme is not slowing down your site.
Consider the Feedback
Whenever it’s a new design, it’ll obviously invite suggestions. Either your readers will love it or will propose a few modifications. Well, it’s important that you pay attention to what they’re saying. After all, the whole purpose of the blog/website is to serve the readers. Communicate with them, find out where they are facing problems with the new theme and make improvements accordingly. Listening to your readers means ensuring the traffic.
When you’ll let, the users know, there are chances that you may get bug reports. It’s better to ask your users how your site is looking on their browser. In cases of any negative results, take a screenshot and ask the developers to fix these, in case you paid for the WordPress themes.
It is the beauty of the WordPress CMS that it allows the users to change themes so easily, without consuming much of their time. But while going for the WordPress theme switch, it is essential that you follow the checklist of things to make things fall into their right places.
Kiera Hayes is a passionate blogger and a freelance Web Developer. She along with her group of freelance developers, are experts of creating Websites on CMS