How to Update Your WordPress Theme

Most site owners know that keeping your software updated is a good thing for many reasons. Though, this also extends to your site, specifically its themes. While it doesn’t seem to make much difference on the surface, carrying out regular updates to your WordPress theme hardens your site further.

The good news is that the process is simple, and in some cases you could even automate any updates that are scheduled. This all happens within your WordPress dashboard, and the steps follow a familiar pattern.

In this post, we’ll show you how to update your WordPress theme. First though, let’s discuss why you’d want to update your WordPress theme in the first place.

Why You’d Want to Update Your WordPress Theme

If you’re an experienced site owner, you’ll know that there are regular updates available for WordPress’ core, themes, and plugins. This is a necessary step for modern web design, because there are often bug fixes based on user feedback.

It’s unfortunate that new security vulnerabilities also arise, although this is no fault of any developer (especially WordPress’ development team). The platform is safe and secure because security issues and exploits are stopped in their tracks before they do harm.

As such, keeping your site and users secure is a key reason for keeping your WordPress theme updated. You may also want to take advantage of new features that are added to a theme. This, of course, isn’t related to site safety, but it’s still a valid reason to update your WordPress theme.

How to Update Your WordPress Theme (In 3 Steps)

Next, we’ll show you how to update your WordPress theme. If you have Administrator access to your site, this will be a piece of cake. What’s more, you’ll need no extra tools to get the job done.

1. Head to the Updates Page Within WordPress

Your first task is to find available updates. The good news is that WordPress has a central location for this – the Updates page. Once you log into WordPress, take a look at the left-hand column. If you see a red counter, there are updates available for your site.

wordpress dashboard

You can also see this in the WordPress toolbar along the top of the screen – look out for the ‘circular arrow’ symbol, along with a counter:

wordpress toolbar

At this point, you won’t know what needs updating, so you’ll need to click through to the page by selecting one of the update links or notices.

2. Find Out Whether Your Themes Need Updating

Once you’re in the Updates page, you’ll see a bunch of details relating to all aspects of WordPress’ updating schedule:

wordpress updates page

Depending on the updates available, you’ll see greater or fewer details here. A sparse screen is often a good sign. This means there will be no updates to carry out.

While taking care of these other updates is a good idea (especially your core WordPress updates, if any), we’re interested in theme updates. To check this, scroll to the bottom of the page. You’ll see a Themes section:

wordpress themes

This will list all the themes with available updates. Though, before you carry out the final step, there are some basic precautions you should take.

3. Carry Out Your WordPress Theme Update

It’s often a good idea to update your themes (along with all of your WordPress files). Though, what isn’t so hot is to lose data in the process.

Given that there are lots of requests being made between servers during the update process, it’s advisable to carry out a full and clean backup of your site before any update. What’s more, if you’re not running a child theme that carries any customizations you’ve made, updating your theme will wipe them.

If you want to update a theme and aren’t using a child theme, yet have made customizations, all is not lost. A plugin such as Child Theme Generator can get the job done without fuss.

Once you have a backup and child theme in place, head back to the Updates screen, scroll to the Themes section, and check the boxes for the themes you wish to update. Then, click the Update Themes button:

update wordpress themes

WordPress will run through the process, and show you a success screen once it’s complete:

update theme success screen

At this point, we’d advise making another backup in case something goes wrong. You’re then covered with a fresh backup complete with updates.

Wrapping Up

Making updates is a crucial part of running a website. One unpatched vulnerability can take your site down, and that could spell disaster. Though, WordPress has a quick and simple method of finding available updates, and walking you through applying them. All it takes is a few seconds, and your WordPress themes will be up to date.

In this post, we’ve shown you how to update your themes. In a nutshell, you’ll head to the Updates page, and click a button to begin the process. Though, make sure you’re running a child theme, as your customizations won’t be preserved without one.

Do you update your WordPress themes on a regular basis, and if not, why? Let us know in the comments section below!

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