7 things to do before changing your WordPress theme

One of the benefits of WordPress is how versatile it is. You can change the theme as often as you like to extend the functionality of your site and make it exactly how you want.

However, before you jump right into changing themes, there are a few crucial steps you need to take to ensure that the whole process runs smoothly so you do not lose vital information on your website.

1. Document key aspects of current theme

Changing your WordPress theme will likely change the structure and appearance of your site. If you have specific code, colours and links you want to keep you should make sure you make a note of them before making the switch.

If you made any manual changes to your current theme that affects the functionality of your website, you may need to do the same to the new theme.

2. Test the speed of your site

Before making any changes, you should test the speed of your site. A theme can affect the page loading times so it’s important to compare your current theme with the new one to make sure you’re not slowing down your site by a significant amount. A sluggish site could end up costing you business.

3. Backup your site

Even though you shouldn’t have any issues switching between one WordPress theme and another, it’s important to backup your site anyway. Your new theme may not be compatible with plugins installed or the version of WordPress you are using. Compatibility issues could lead to the white screen of death – which, trust us, you want to avoid!

4. Get in maintenance mode

Before doing any work on your website, you should put it into maintenance mode so that your visitors don’t experience broken links or pages. By placing your website on maintenance mode it tells people that you are in the process of updating your website and, therefore, gives a reason why visitors may experience downtime.

If you don’t provide an explanation, you could lose credibility.

5. Test all functionalities

After installing and activating the new theme, you should check that everything is working as it should. Things to test include checking the speed, broken links, broken images, 404 error pages and any forms that have been set up.

If you had manually added any code on your previous site, you will need to add that back to provide any functionalities that you had in your old theme that you want to use in the new theme.

Some plugins are not compatible with certain themes and so you should check they’re working correctly. If you experience any problems, you may need to deactivate plugins one at a time to identify which one is the issue.

6. Test across devices

Once you have tested for speed and functionality, you should test how the new site looks across all devices. As most visitors will access your site via a mobile phone or tablet, you need to make sure that your new theme shows your website properly on those devices.

Testing platforms and browsers are also necessary to ensure your website looks the same to all visitors regardless of device or platform.

7. Let your visitors know you are back

Once you’re happy with your new theme and satisfied it looks and works as it should, you need to go off maintenance mode and let your visitors know about your new look. Posting about it on your social media channels will show transparency and reassure visitors that it is still the same site, albeit a new and improved version.

As it’s sometimes easy to miss bugs when you change theme, ask your visitors to keep an eye out and feedback any issues. Again, this can be communicated via your social channels.

If you’re having trouble fixing any issues that come up as a result of a change of theme, WP Tech Support can fix them for you. By signing up to our monthly plans you can continue to get ongoing support with any potential WordPress issues that may come up in the future.

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