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Top Must-Do Things Before Changing WordPress Themes

If you have owned a WordPress website, changing the appearance of your site will be a great way to draw more attention from your site viewers. Moreover, WordPress offers an easy way to change themes with a few clicks. However, switching themes is much more than clicking on the activate button, it may affect directly your site features. So in this post, I will give you some must-do things which you have to notice before changing WordPress themes. With these tips, your changing process will go smoothly without losing any elements.

1. Take Notes on Your Current Theme

Most WordPress users find solutions to their problems on the web. And it is often in form of snippets added in their theme, including the functions.php or another file. Once having any change in theme, they tend not to remember them.

Therefore, before changing WordPress themes, you should go through your theme files and take notes all additional code, test the current theme’s load time, and much more. So you can easily compare the two different pages. To do this, you can use Pingdom Tools or YSlow.   

2. Backup

Backing up is one of the important tasks that you have to do before changing WordPress themes. When backing up your files, you will have nothing to lose, from theme files, plugins, and the database. All of your data will be safe in case some terrible things happen.

WordPress also provides many great plugins to help you backup your site. Among them, BackupBuddy is highly recommended to get the full-site backup.   

3. Maintenance Mode

During the changing process, you probably don’t want your clients to see your site. Because it may look like a broken site or such. Turning on the Maintenance mode for 15-20 minutes is the best way to ensure that everything still works properly. Once setting up the Maintenance mode, you can easily go ahead and activate the new theme for your site.

4. Testing all functionality and plugins

When activating a new theme, you have to check that all of your theme functionality and plugins still work well. Now, remember the list which you created in step 1 and check all of them. Go back and add functionality which you want to bring from the old theme to the new one if it has been removed.

Test all features including the commenting process, single post pages, search, 404 pages, archive page, contact page, and so on. Besides, make sure that all of your widgets are still working.

For the plugin front, make sure that the formatting is the same. Many plugins use your existing styles to show their output. So testing the plugins will ensure its appearance on the new theme.

5. Cross Browser Compatibility

Another thing you have to do is test your site in all popular browsers which your customers can access to. This avoids the situation that the site is not available. Because browsers tend to render things differently, especially Internet Explorer. Make sure that your theme looks good in browsers as some of them may break the pretty looking theme. If your site visitors are using Internet Explorer, you have to check whether they can access your site or not.

6. Make those Third Party Items look pretty

Some ad companies like Google Adsense allow you to format and customize them. For instance, in the previous orange site, the links for Google Adsense are orange. Now if you want to take that into another color like blue for Twitter widget, Facebook, etc, you can adjust to a new color scheme. In general, if you are going from light to dark design or vice versa, then you will need some changes to make the third party items more pretty.

7. Let your Users Know

When turning off the maintenance mode, you should write a quick post to let your audience know. Remember that you should spend only 15-20 minutes on checking things. By letting the users know about it, you can get the bug reports. They can take a screenshot of the issue, and then you can fix it easily. If you can’t fix it, then kindly ask developers of your theme to fix it.

Each user uses different kinds of browsers, screen solutions, etc. thus, getting the opinion from your audiences is very important. Don’t forget to remind your RSS readers to test the site as well.   

8. Pruning plugins

Now WordPress themes are coming with many features, thanks to a huge number of plugins. However, some of them are not necessary for your site, so let’s remove it. For example, there are many plugins which can be integrated with your WordPress site to improve the SEO features.

Themes are now coming pre-loaded with a lot of features. For example, if you are using Genesis or another theme that has BreadCrumbs, then you can get rid of Breadcrumb plugin of yours. The concept is simple. Get rid of things that you don’t need. One thing you should make sure though is often plugins can do the job better. For example, a lot of themes are coming with tons of SEO. All of them can support well for your site, so make your choices wisely to get the best plugin.

9. Test Loading Time

Testing the loading time will avoid the slow speed which may lead your audiences to abandon your site. Compare with the old theme, and then improve the load time.

10. Monitor Bounce Rate

When switching themes is completed, make sure that you still monitor the bounce rate. Some themes are friendlier than others with the clear navigation around your site. If the bounce rate has increased, you can work on it. If not, add related post widgets, popular post widget, or have a better call-to-action for new readers to improve the bounce rate.  

With 10 must-do things before changing WordPress themes above, I hope that you can switch your theme easily and make your site work smoothly.

I'm the content marketer at ThemesPond. In addition to writing blog posts, I edit our blog, and manage our many content contributors. Also, I’m a member of the WordPress community. I’ve devoted my time on delivering all necessary elements in the WordPress ecosystem, like WordPress tutorial, plugins, themes.

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