15 Things To Do Before Changing WordPress Themes

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15 Things To Do Before Changing WordPress Themes

If you’ve ever used WordPress, you’ve most likely switched themes at some point. It’s much better if you haven’t and this is your first time.

The beauty of WordPress is that it makes changing themes incredibly simple for users.

It’s only a few mouse clicks away. However, changing themes entails much more than merely activating them.

We’ll give you a checklist of things you must do before switching WordPress themes in this article.

These stages are essential for ensuring that the process runs successfully; otherwise, you risk losing pieces that you didn’t intend to lose.

  1. Take Notes on Your Current Theme

Take Notes on your Current WordPress Theme

Many WordPress users look for solutions to their problems on the internet. They frequently locate those answers in the form of snippets that they manually add to their theme’s functions.php or other files.

People have a propensity to forget these adjustments because they were done only once. Examine your theme files and make a list of any additional code you’ve added.

You should also check the load time of your existing theme so that you can compare the two.

To test different pages, go to a site like Pingdom Tools or use YSlow (Yes different pages, not just the homepage).

  1. Be cautious of the Sidebars

Be cautious of the Sidebars

Make certain that your new theme is widget-friendly. Because sidebar widgets are so simple to use, many people utilize them to modify their websites.

We’ve noticed that the sidebars of WordPress blogs are perhaps the most user-customized. People add custom messages, graphics, links, advertisements, and other widgets, among other things.

You will lose all of your widgets if you transition from a widget-enabled theme to one that is not widget-ready. This isn’t an issue if you’re using a WordPress theme that supports widgets.

Also, whatever you do in your old theme’s sidebar.php file will be replaced. As a result, be sure to include those scripts in the new theme’s sidebar.

  1. Don’t lose tracking

Teacup Analytics

Most bloggers use Google Analytics or one of the other services to track their traffic. Many of us do not use plugins to add tracking codes to our websites.

Some of us edit the scripts in the footer.php file. Some of our themes provide a space for you to put your AdSense code.

Regardless of whatever scenario applies to you, make sure you copy and paste your tracking code into your new theme.

This is one of the most typical things that people ignore. Most of us overlook it because it is so straightforward.

  1. The Good ‘ol RSS are you working?

For our WordPress RSS Feeds, many of us use FeedBurner. One of the steps in integrating FeedBurner with WordPress is to point your default feeds to FeedBurner, which allows you to track your feed subscribers.

Many themes, such as Genesis, Standard Theme, and others, provide a FeedBurner integration option in their settings panel.

If you don’t keep the feed directed to FeedBurner, your blog will have two RSS feeds.

The primary WordPress one, as well as the FeedBurner one, which pulls data from your WordPress RSS Feed.

Except that you’ll lose track of a lot of your subscribers because they signed up using the /feed/ link, which no longer redirects to FeedBurner.

Again, this does not mean you lose them, it just means that you can’t see them in the FeedBurner count.

  1. Backup!!

Backup your Files

You’ll never lose anything by making a backup. All of your theme files, plugins, and the database should be backed up as a precaution.

Although nothing should go wrong, it’s better to be safe than sorry. BackupBuddy can generate a full-site backup for you.

  1. Maintenance Mode

Maintenance Mode WordPress

You probably don’t want your users to see when you’re switching because they’ll see a broken site or something similar.

It’s preferable to use Maintenance mode for the 15–20 minutes it might take you to double-check that everything is in working order.

After you’ve configured Maintenance mode, you’re ready to activate the new theme.

  1. Testing all functionality and plugins

Once you’ve activated the new theme, double-check that all of the functionality and plugins are still operational.

Remember that handy notes list you made in step one? This is the period when it will be useful.

If you haven’t already, go back and add any and all features that you wish to bring from the old theme to the new theme.

Try out all the features including but not limited to the commenting process, single post pages, search, 404 page, archive page, contact page etc. Check to see if all of your widgets are still there and functional.

On the plugin front, all you need to do is double-check that the formatting remains the same.

Many plugins make use of your current styles to display their results.

So you probably want to make sure that they still look good with the new theme.

  1. Cross Browser Compatibility

Cross Browser Compatibility

Test your website in all browsers available to you. Browsers have an uncanny ability to render things differently.

You want to make sure that your design looks nice in all major browsers, especially Internet Explorer.

Some attractive themes have a propensity to fail in other browsers.

If a large portion of your audience uses Internet Explorer, you’ll want to be sure it’s still available to them.

  1. Make those Third Party Items look pretty

If you’re using Google Adsense or another ad vendor that lets you style them, customizing them is your best chance.

For example, because your prior site was orange, you had orange Google Adsense links. If it’s blue, you should probably take that into consideration.

The same is true for Twitter widgets, Facebook like buttons, and other social media buttons. Make any necessary changes to fit your new color scheme.

If you are going from a light to a dark design, or vice-versa, then you need to make those changes.

  1. Let your Users Know


Turn off maintenance mode and notify users with a simple blog post.

You’ll see that you only checked items for about 15–20 minutes. You could not possibly have caught all of the bugs.

You can expect bug reports if you let your users know. Inquire of your audience using social media platforms like as Twitter and Facebook to see if the site looks well in their browser.

It’s good news if they say yes. If they answer no, politely request that they snap a screenshot of the problem. You can investigate the problem and attempt to resolve it.

If you are unable to resolve the issue, please contact the theme’s creator. Please keep in mind that unless you purchased for the theme, these developers are not obligated to fix any issues for free.

People have all sort of browsers, screen resolutions, etc, so getting their opinion is important. Don’t forget to remind your RSS readers to visit the site as well, so they can see the goodies.

  1. Pruning plugins

Themes now come with a plethora of functionality pre-installed. If you’re using Genesis or another theme with BreadCrumbs, for example, you can disable the Breadcrumb plugin.

The principle is straightforward. Get rid of anything you don’t use. One thing to keep in mind is that plugins can often do the job better.

Many themes, for example, come with a slew of SEO capabilities.

Genesis, Thesis, Standard Theme, and all others boast their SEO features.

We’d rather use a much more powerful plugin like WordPress SEO by Yoast. Make your choices wisely.

  1. Take Baby Steps when Changing


Because you’re dealing with a new theme, it’s usually advisable to proceed with caution.

Smaller elements should be changed to ensure that it works in all browsers.

Then, after you’re comfortable, you can make significant adjustments.

It’s critical to understand the structure and semantics of the new theme before making major changes. You will be able to spot the issue immediately away as a result of this.

  1. Test Loading Time

Compare the load time numbers from your previous theme (from item 1 of this checklist) to the new one.

Check out Syed’s Slideshare presentation to see what you can do to improve load time.

  1. Monitor Bounce Rate

After you’ve switched themes, make sure you’re keeping an eye on your bounce rate.

When it comes to guiding your readers across your site, certain themes are simply friendlier than others.

If your bounce rate has risen after using the prior theme, you should probably address it.

Add widgets for similar posts and popular posts, or simply improve the call-to-action for new readers.

  1. Listen to your readers, and IMPROVE


Users always have suggestions when a new design is released. They either adore or despise a particular characteristic.

Use surveys or Facebook polls to engage your audience. Find out what they’d like to see improved, and then work to make it happen.


When it comes to changing WordPress themes, do you have a checklist of your own? If there’s something we missed, please let us know.

Don’t forget to share this article for others to learn. See you soon!

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