It is mandatory for every website owner to change the theme of their website from time to time. You may want to replace the existing theme with a lighter one to reduce loading times, add better customization options, or change the look of the website.
The process of changing the WordPress theme on your site is straightforward, but you need to follow a few prerequisites beforehand to make sure you don’t mess up the live site. We have compiled a list of things you should do before changing your WordPress theme.
1. Back Up Your WordPress Site
Your top priority should be to take a complete backup of your website first. When you back up your content and database, you will have a replica of the current state of your website. If things don’t go according to plan when you change themes, you can always use a backup to restore your site without losing any important changes.
Although most users take daily or weekly auto-backups, it is essential to take a fresh backup and store it in the cloud or on their computer to avoid losing any changes made after the backup. There are a variety of plugins available to back up your website, but UpdraftPlus makes it easy.
2. Put Your Website on Maintenance to Inform Your Visitors
Changing the WordPress theme on a live website can be disastrous. Thus, instead of disrupting the user experience of your website visitors by showing a distorted webpage with content, images, headers and footers, add a message saying that maintenance is taking place.
You can put your website on maintenance in a variety of ways, so it looks like changes are being made behind the scenes. Either you can write custom code, use plugins, or use third-party page builders. Using a plugin is the easiest option, as it allows you to activate and deactivate maintenance mode with just a few clicks.
Bloggers generally recommend using the SeedProd plugin to keep your website up and running, but you can use any of the free plugins in the WordPress library.
3. Copy Code Snippets
Perhaps you have used some custom code snippets to extend the functionality of your WordPress theme. Depending on how you’ve added them, you’ll need to avoid losing them when you change themes. If you’ve added them to the theme file manually, you’ll need to copy them all over before making any changes.
If you are using a dedicated plugin to add snippets, it may or may not retain those snippets or apply them to the new theme. In any case, it’s better to copy all the custom code you’ve added to the theme file or plugin and save them offline. If something goes wrong, you can still use the same code snippet to customize your new theme.
4. Note the Customization of Your Theme
You should also carefully note the placement of the various elements on your theme, including widgets, header elements, footer elements, custom text, and more. As a result, if changing the WordPress theme reverts all such customizations to default, you can replicate them manually. Later
It is also necessary to check the feasibility of adapting to the new theme. Analyze how customizable its fonts and layout are, how easy it is to use with the page builder, and how easily you can customize it using code snippets. So, make sure it offers the same level of customization as your old theme so that you can redesign it to your liking.
5. Note Your Website Speed Metrics
It is necessary to perform live speed and performance tests on your old theme in the current state of your website. You can repeat the test after changing the theme to compare the performance of your website on a new theme with the old theme. So, if the theme has overloaded your site instead of improving your site’s loading time, you can revert the change.
GTmetrix is an excellent tool for analyzing website performance. Run a performance test and note down the site’s performance and structure scores along with web critical. If you’ve used code snippets on multiple pages, you can also review the performance report for each page to make sure that adding code snippets to those same pages in the new theme won’t overload it.
Doing so helps analyze how the new theme handles existing snippets. You can also use other WordPress speed test tools to check your site performance.
6. Check Theme Compatibility on Different Devices
Your website visitors access your website from different devices. Therefore, it is imperative to have a theme that is responsive and compatible with all devices. Normally, WordPress themes work perfectly on desktop but there are issues on mobile.
Check whether the theme you plan to use is mobile-friendly by design, or assess how much effort you will have to put into making the theme mobile-friendly.