Your website’s theme is an essential part of its identity. As such, you may occasionally need to swap it out as your focus or branding evolves. However, changing a site’s theme can put you at risk for aesthetic problems and broken elements.
Fortunately, there’s a way to reduce that risk. By taking a few careful precautions at every stage of the installation process, you can change your WordPress theme safely and seamlessly.
In this article, we’ll cover a few reasons to swap out your theme, and explore the risks involved. Then we’ll take you through four steps to help you change your WordPress theme safely. Let’s get started!
Why you might want to change your theme
There are a few reasons you might need to know how to change your WordPress theme safely. One prominent consideration is rebranding. If you or your client has undergone an image refresh, you might need a new design to reflect that.
If a theme is being deprecated, your decision might be driven by security concerns. Deprecation usually means that updates, including critical security measures, will no longer be released. This liability can put your site at risk for security attacks.
Alternatively, you could be ready to upgrade to a premium option. Many WordPress users begin with free themes as an economical choice. However, as your site expands you may be willing to pay for extra features that will support its growth.
Finally, your motivation might be as simple as desiring a new look. If you’re like many WordPress users, your website is constantly evolving. Knowing how to change your theme safely is thus critical.
The risks of applying a new theme
Despite the advantages, there are also risks involved when you swap themes. Generally, site elements that are unconnected from the theme are unaffected. This includes your content, and any customization added via code.
However, theme-specific features can pose a problem. For example, any shortcodes unique to the design won’t carry over. The same will be true of home pages, widgets, or file alterations directly related to the theme.
When you combine those aspects with possible formatting errors, you’re altering many integral aspects of your site. Big changes like these have the potential to render your website unusable, or at least give it a messy and unprofessional appearance. As such, learning how to change your WordPress theme safely is critical.
How to change your WordPress theme safely (in 4 steps)
The impact of a theme swap can have far-reaching effects on your website as a whole. Here are four steps to help you mitigate the risks when you need to switch to a new theme.
Step 1: Back up your current site
The first thing you’ll want to do is prepare for the worst. While the following steps should help to keep your site safe, there are no guarantees. As such, we highly recommend that you create a backup of your current site.
Frequent backups are also a smart idea for general site security.
This article was written by Will Morris and originally published on ManageWP.