One of the great benefits of setting up your site using WordPress is that you can change your website template with much ease. With hundreds of options available at WordPress Theme Directory, professional theme markets and some third party providers, you can switch your website appearance at different stages with a few clicks only. The installation and activation process takes you no more than 5 seconds.
However, to ensure the proper display of your website content, the practice of theme changing is more than simply clicking some buttons. After all, different themes come with different designs and layouts. They do not know where your logo should be located, whether your sidebar can be matched, whether to display the footers or headers and many more.
In this case, we have listed the top 10 critical aspects that are needed to be taken into account before you change WordPress theme. Bearing these tasks in mind, you can update your website appearance properly.
Tip No.1 – Take Some Notes for Your Current Theme
This is the first thing you need to do. After all, what you want to change are the overall style, color schemes, background, layout, graphical components and some other showcase-related aspects for the good looking. As for some unique features such as links, menus and widgets, you’d better remain them.
In this case, before doing everything, you’d better make a checklist of your current template and take notes for some important aspects. For instance, you may add extra snippets or CSS codes into your theme file to achieve some special functions. Thus, you need to go through all the related files to note down the additional lines of code you have added, and do not forget to paste them into the new template files.
In addition, you’d better go through your navigation menu for making a map of it, making sure that your new navigation works the same as the old one.
We have to mention that all of these notes can give you the right instruction on how to get your site displayed the way you really want.
Tip No.2 – Make the Full Backup
This is another must-do step before changing your theme. In fact, this practice can be viewed as a precautionary measure to prevent any unexpected situation that may bring something wrong to your site.
In this case, no matter what change you are going to make, starting the full backup for all the website files, databases, plugins, settings, templates and many others is essential.
Tip No.3 – Enable the Maintenance Mode for Your Website Temporarily
If you do not have many special requirements or complicated settings, changing your theme may only take you a few minutes. However, it is possible that you need to modify your new theme to fully meet your requirements. In this case, the process might be long and is based on the complexity of your website.
Here, we highly recommend you to put your site into the maintenance mode with a “Coming Soon” message. This can prevent your readers from seeing the broken pages.
Tip No.4 – Pay Attention to Your Sidebar Widgets
At present, the sidebar is an essential part of almost all the popular websites with the full customization. You can showcase anything in this special area using some widgets, which include the custom textual content, links, ads, images and many more.
However, if your new theme has different widget settings as compared with the old one, the sidebar can hardly be displayed properly. For instance, if you have a text widget for the showcase of “About Me” but the new theme does not support this special widget by default, your self-introduction area will be removed automatically. Even, if your new theme is not a widget-enabled one, you will lose everything displayed on your sidebar.
In addition, you need to note that all the settings you have modified in the sidebar.php file for your old theme will be overwritten.
Tip No.5 – Copy and Paste the Tracking Code on Theme Files
This is the most commonly overlooked aspect for the majority of WordPress users.
It is possible that you enable the tracking service like Google Analytics to keep an eye on the performance, reader source and traffic growth of your site. For the activation of the service, you need to add a special line of tracking code into your theme files, such as the function.php file and the footer.php file.
In this case, when changing to a new theme, you need to make sure that these codes have copied and pasted properly. Even, if you have added some verification codes and advertising codes, do not forget to paste them into the right file.
Tip No.6 – Check for Your Plugins
Different themes can achieve different functions for you. In this case, when changing your WordPress theme, you need to figure out that whether all your installed plugins used for the previous theme are worth using. After all, some of them may not be suitable for your new option and others may even be redundant. For the sake of website performance, you’d better find them for deleting.
For example, if you use a special plugin to achieve the PayPal gateway for the old theme. Then, if your new theme already has the function of PayPal integration and does not need any extra tool, you need to remove this plugin at once.
In addition, the proper working of some plugins requires the editing of your template files. Related Entries plugin, for instance, requires you to put a line of exclusive code snippet into your theme function file. In this case, when changing WordPress template, do not forget to test the working of your essential plugins and insert the necessary coding stuff into the correct files as well.
Even, you should pay attention to the issue of plugin compatibility with your current theme.
Tip No.7 – Check the Browser Compatibility for Proper Display
Browsers, especially the Internet Explorer browser, have the different tendency for rendering different things. In this case, you need to make sure that your newly updated theme can have a good look on all the major browsers.
In addition to the cross-browser compatibility, you also need to ensure that your theme has the responsive design for displaying your content well on mobiles and tablets.
Tip No.8 – Start from the Minor Aspects
Personally, we recommend you to take a baby step when changing the theme. Firstly, you can start from the minor aspects that include the logo, favicon, header, footer and background image. After that, you make the drastic changes for navigations and layout. This process allows you to detect any problem effectively.
Tip No.9 – Optimize for Some Third Party Components
If you use the Google Adsense and showcase the link on your site, you’d better achieve the same color and font for your new theme. Also, if you showcase the buttons for Facebook, PayPal, Twitter and many more, you need to adjust them with your current color scheme.
Tip No.10 – Inform Your Readers
After making a change on your WordPress theme, you’d better tell your readers about the modification regarding the new design. Then, ask them to give you a feedback; thus, you can get a clear idea of whether your contents are showcased properly without any trouble, whether your common readers love the new appearance, whether your site can be further optimized and many more.