Last Updated on January 5, 2022 by Oluwatuyi
Are you thinking of what to do before changing your WordPress themes?
When trying to switch to another WordPress theme, there are few very important steps that you must take to ensure the process is smooth, easy and you don’t lose any important data.
We’ll share the top things you must do before you change WordPress themes.
Switching a theme is an important decision that every website owner makes at least once every few years.
Of course you have to decide your reasoning of why you’re switching, and pick a theme that suits all your needs.
Once you have chosen the theme that you want to switch to, it’s important that you follow the checklist below to ensure that you don’t lose any content or data during the process.
Study Any WordPress Theme Customizations
- 1 Study Any WordPress Theme Customizations
- 2 Get Current WordPress Theme Performance Metrics
- 3 Make Note of Current Theme Sidebars and Widget Areas
- 4 Back Up Your Current WordPress Website
- 5 Put Your WordPress Site Into Maintenance Mode
- 6 Test All Functionality and Installed WordPress Plugins
- 7 Test New WordPress Theme Across Browsers and Devices
- 8 Delete WordPress Plugins You No Longer Need
- 9 Test Loading Speeds for Your New WordPress Theme
- 10 Monitor Your WordPress Website Bounce Rate
Some WordPress website owners will customize their WordPress themes by adding code snippets directly to their theme files. Code snippets can be a great way to add new features to your website that aren’t part of the stock theme.
But, if you’re adding those snippets directly to your theme files, it can be easy to lose track of them.
If you or a web developer made these changes, then make sure you go through your current theme files and note all of the additional code that’s been added.
Get Current WordPress Theme Performance Metrics
Before changing your theme, you should check your current website’s loading speed and performance. This lets you compare any differences in the page load time after you switch themes.
You can easily check your current website speed metrics using a WordPress speed testing tool such as page speed insight free website speed testing tool.
For more details, see our guide on how to run a website speed test.
Make Note of Current Theme Sidebars and Widget Areas
Sidebars are used for adding different widgets to your website, like email newsletter subscription forms, social media buttons, popular posts, and more.
Since every theme has different widget areas, your widgets may unexpectedly move or disappear from your site if you switch themes.
That’s why it’s important to make a note of what widgets you’re using in your WordPress sidebars and any other widget areas of your website before you change themes. Then you can easily replicate them after switching.
If you’ve added any custom code or shortcodes, then make sure to copy this code and save it somewhere safe so that you can use it with your new theme.
Back Up Your Current WordPress Website
It’s always a good idea to back up your website on a regular basis. Before changing your theme, you should completely back up your posts, pages, plugins, media, and databases.
The easiest way to do this is by using a WordPress backup plugin to create a backup of your entire site.
This will help ensure you can easily recover your website if anything goes wrong when switching themes.
Put Your WordPress Site Into Maintenance Mode
When making changes to your site, it’s always a good practice to put your website into maintenance mode. Maintenance mode lets you display a user friendly notice to your visitors.
This helps prevent your visitors from seeing your website when it’s half-finished or under construction.
Test All Functionality and Installed WordPress Plugins
Once you have a new WordPress theme activated, you need to ensure you have the same functionality as before and that all of your old plugins work with your new theme.
You can start by adding back the code snippets that you copied from your old WordPress theme files.
Then, spend some time using the features of your site that are powered by WordPress plugins. If you’re experiencing any errors at this time.
Test New WordPress Theme Across Browsers and Devices
Cross-browser testing will help you make sure your new website looks good on different browsers, screen sizes, operating systems, and mobile devices.
Most of your visitors will probably use Google Chrome to visit your WordPress blog. However, other web browsers like Firefox, Microsoft Edge, Safari, and more are still used by hundreds of millions of users worldwide.
If your new website doesn’t work right on one of those browsers, then you’re missing out on visitors and traffic.
Luckily, you can use all kinds of cross-browser testing tools to see how your website looks across different browsers and devices.
Delete WordPress Plugins You No Longer Need
Some WordPress themes will pre-install plugins when you install the theme. Some of these may be useful, but other times you won’t need them.
Simply go to Plugins » Installed Plugins to see if your theme has added any new plugins.
Now is also a good time to go through your entire plugin list to see if any plugins are worth deleting.
If you’re looking for high quality plugins to use with your new theme, then see our picks of the must have WordPress plugins.
Test Loading Speeds for Your New WordPress Theme
Once your new theme is live and you’ve gone through the steps above, it’s time to do another speed test. Ideally, your new website will be faster and get better scores in your speed test.
To do this, simply use the same website speed tool you used earlier and compare the results.
If the new theme is slower than your old theme, then make sure you run multiple tests, test from different areas, and check to see if you have any caching or firewall settings that could be causing the dip.
Monitor Your WordPress Website Bounce Rate
Bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who land on your website and leave without continuing to a second page. A high bounce rate means that you didn’t convince your visitor to stay on your site long enough to take action.
After you switch themes, it’s important to monitor your bounce rate. Some themes are simply friendlier at helping visitors navigate around your site.
If your bounce rate has gone up since switching theme, then you’ll want to work to lower it. You can do this by improving your navigation menus, adding more internal links, adding a popular posts widget, and more.
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