WordPress is among the best free and open source blogging tools available today and is considered the easiest Content Management System. WordPress features things like integrated link management, the ability to assign several nested categories to articles, as well as ability to tag posts and articles.
WordPress themes are meant to enable you to change the functionality and look of your WordPress blog to suit your requirements without changing the structure or information on the site. You can easily install and switching themes in WordPress.
Switching themes in WordPress is a very common practice and one that practically no WordPress webmaster can avoid. After designing your WordPress blog, you might find that the design is not as good, or maybe it’s not suiting your requirements. Therefore, you will have the urge to change the theme to come up with a better design. One of the main factors that makesWordPress standout is its ability to enable webmasters to easily change the theme as well as the design of the entire blog;you simply have to go through a few clicks to change themes. With this unique feature, beginners with little CSS/HTML knowledge can easily create great blogs with amazing designs.
When changing the theme of your WordPress blog, one important thing you need to keep in mind is the functionality of the site.
This post briefly outlines several things which must be done before changing WordPress themes. Thesesteps are very crucial and we strongly advise you to keenly go through them to ensure that your theme changing process is carried out smoothly. Additionally, this article will help you avoid losing important elements on your site.
Backup Your Files
Everyone tends to the protect things they value most in life from getting lost or damaged. This also applies to your WordPress information. It costs you almost nothing to create a backup of your site information. It is strongly recommended that you create a backup of all your plug-ins and theme files, as well as the database. There are online tools such as BackupBuddy that can help you when it comes to creating a full site backup.
Switch Your Site to Maintenance Mode
When carrying out the theme changing process, it is good to switch your WordPress blog to the maintenance mode. This will help you avoid showing your users that you are currently working on the site and also prevent them from seeing a broken site. Since changing themes is a very easy task, the maintenance mode can last for less than 30 minutes. This time will enable you to activate your new theme properly.
Keep Note of Your Current Theme
Taking note of your current WordPress theme should be the first thing you do when it comes to changing your site’s theme. It is common for many WordPress webmasters to search the web for specified solutions to their site; as a result, they find solutions in the form of snippets which they manually include in their themes. Simply go through your WordPress theme files and write down all of the additional code which had been manually added into the theme. Additionally, you can note the current load speed of your theme and compare it with the speed of the new theme.
Stat Tracking Code
Many webmasters use a blog stat tracking tool such as 103bees, Google Analytics, or others. A small piece of code located in either the header or footer is responsible for carrying out this work. However, when you change your WordPress theme, all the files found in the header as well as the footer are lost. Therefore, you must reapply all the code snippets in your new theme in order to have your site tracked properly and enable you to collect stats.
Once you have reapplied all the code snippets in your new theme, check to see if the stat tracking tools are functioning properly.
This also applies in the case of the Google Webmasters tools. You will be required to authenticate the blog ownership. When using the Google Webmasters tools, you will not be required to change the themes and you will only need to verify the site ownership by either placing meta tag code in the files found in the header or by uploading a file. If you choose to use the former, ensure that you put the code back when you are done with changing the theme to enable the blog to function properly.
Many people use FeedBurner for their WordPress RSS feeds. The best way of integrating the FeedBurner into your WordPress to enable your blog to have analytics on its feed subscribers is by pointing the default feeds to the FeedBurner. The majority of WordPress themes such as Standard Theme, Headway Theme, Genesis, and others enable the webmaster to integrate FeedBurner right from the settings panel. To avoid having two RSS feeds for your site, ensure that the feed is properly directed to FeedBurner.
Inform Your Users
After you are through changing your WordPress theme, turn off the maintenance mode and notify your users by writing a quick note. You may want to use major social networks such as Facebook and Twitter to ask your audience if the site looks good in their respective browsers. If their response is yes then good for you. If they say no then you should request that they send you a screenshot of the site to help you know where the problem lies. You can then fix the issue or seek the assistance of the developer. With developers, you will have to pay something for the problem to be fixed.
Be Careful With the Sidebars
Many WordPress owners make changes to their sidebars by adding widgets, links, ads, and text. Before changing your WordPress theme, ensure that it is widget-ready. Anyone can easily use sidebar widgets and you can also easily customize it to suit your personal requirements. You should be very careful when using a widget enabled theme since you may lose all of your additions if you switch to a theme that is not widget enabled. However, there is no problem if you are also switching to a widget-enabled theme as the details should remain unaltered. In addition, you should ensure that you include the code in the new theme sidebar since anything you change in the sidebar. php file on the old theme will be automatically overwritten. It is recommended that you copy and paste all the code from your sidebar somewhere on your computer before activating your new theme. Then after switching themes, paste the code in the sidebar files and reapply all the changes.
The Sidebar Will Be Overwritten
A majority of WordPress owners customize their sidebars by adding widgets, links, advertising, and text among others. Don’t worry if your WordPress theme is widget-enabled since widgets are usually unaltered even after changing themes. However, you will be required to redo everything if you have made changes manually. In this case, you will have to save all the code from your sidebar before activating the new theme. You can simply copy and paste the code onto your computer. After switching to your new theme, simply edit the files in the sidebar and re-apply the changes.
Observe and Control Bounce Rate
It is a good idea to monitor the bounce rate after you are done with switching your WordPress theme. Basically, bounce rate is the percentage of your blog visitors who, after entering your site, leave immediately rather than view other pages. This rate is very crucial as it enables you to find out the performance as well as effectiveness of your WordPress blog. If the bounce rate of your blog is low, then the blog effectively entices visitors to view more pages and stay longer on your site. If the bounce rate of your new WordPress theme is higher than 60%, then you should be concerned.
There are themes which are normally better and friendlier compared to others in terms of site navigation as well as strong functionality. You should ensure that your new theme’s bounce rate is lower compared to the previous theme. You may want to include a most popular posts widgets, related posts widgets, or just focus on better site performance for your new blog visitors.
In addition, load time is very important when it comes to boosting the performance of your site and increasing search engine rankings. Therefore, when changing the theme you should do so with load time in mind. Compare the load time numbers on your old theme with those of your new theme. You can ensure that the load time of the new theme is much better by searching the web for ways to improve it.
Test the Functionality
Ensure that all of your WordPress plug-ins and functionality is retained after you are done with activating the new theme. Remember the list of notes you made in the first step of changing your WordPress theme. You may want to include all the functionality from the old theme to the new one. You should try adding features such as a contact page, archive page, 404 page, search, single post pages, commenting process, and much more. In addition, ensure that all the widgets are still there and are functioning properly. Make sure that the formatting of the plug-in front is still the same. It is good to ensure that all the WordPress plug-ins are still in good condition on the new theme since the majority of them used your existing styles in displaying their output.
Update the Colors and Design of Your Third Party Items
You may want to customize the major third party items such as Google AdSense, Text-Link-Ads, or other form of advertisement on your site to meet your requirements. For instance, if you are changing the color of links on the new site, you may want to change the color of links for Google AdSense also. Other third party items you can customize and adjust with your new color scheme include Facebook like buttons, Twitter widgets or others. This will enable these third-party items to blend well with the new design as well as the color scheme of your site.
Ensure Cross Browser Compatibility of Your WordPress Site
Different browsers tend to represent things differently especially Internet Explorer. Therefore, it is a good idea to crosscheck your site by running it on all available browsers to ensure that it’s compatible with them. This will enable you to ensure that your new WordPress design and theme have a great look in all of the major browsers. There are various WordPress themes that look good even though they tend to break in certain browsers. You should therefore carry out a survey to determine which browser the majority of your site users utilize. This will help you ensure that they can access your new site without any problems. It is very easy to test your WordPress blog in Internet Explorer as well as Firefox if you are using a PC. However, if you are using Mac, you can easily check your blog in Firefox and Safari.
Clean up thePlug-ins
Today, many WordPress themes come with tons of highly impressive features. For instance, instead of using Breadcrumb plug-in on your site, you can use a theme that comes with Bread Crumbs included such as Genesis, simply remove all of the unnecessary things from your site. However, many plug-ins are now loaded with very useful features; for example, themes such as Standard Theme, Headway, Thesis, Genesis, and others come already packed with hundreds of SEO features. Choose the plug-ins you want to use on your new WordPress site wisely, for instance, you may want to choose a more useful plug-in such as WordPress SEO by Yoast.
After changing your WordPress theme, there may be some plug-ins that you no longer need in your new theme. This is because some of them may be redundant while others are not suitable for your new theme. For example, you may be using the Optimal Title plug-in in your old theme to help put the post title in front of your blog name for any page titles; this is highly recommended for SEO purposes. But if you switch to a new theme and realize that the post titles were already in front, this plug-in will be irrelevant. In addition, there might be several other plug-ins that are now useless and you may find that you don’t need them anymore. Therefore, you will want to clean things up.
Be Careful When Changing WordPress Themes
It is likely that you’ve spent a lot of time playing around with your WordPress theme. Therefore, when changing your WordPress themes, it is highly recommended to pay attention and be very careful with every step you take to ensure the efficiency of your new theme. Pay attention to smaller changes on your new theme to ensure that it performs perfectly in all browsers. You can then make huge changes after ensuring that everything is fine with the smaller elements. Before making any drastic changes, it is strongly advised that you learn and be well versed with the semantics, as well as the structure, of the new theme;this will enable you to detect any issues that arise right away.
Improve Your WordPress Blog Based on Your Users’ Suggestions
It is a common practice for users to give suggestions about the new design you’vejust developed; they may hate or love specific features. Since different users have all types of different setups such as screen sizes, browsers, resolutions, etc. , they will give you solid feedback about the look and feel of your new WordPress theme. You may want to interact with your WordPress users through surveys or social network polls such as Twitter and Facebook. This will help you find out what they would like to see changed or improved. Remember to request your RSS readers to check it out, too. Then work on your WordPress site to implement any changes based on their suggestions, and of course what you feel is best for your blog.
Changing WordPress themes is very crucial as it enables you to tailor your blog towards your own interests and requirements. However, when changing your WordPress theme, you must pay close attention to avoid making a mistake that might cost your dearly. As mentioned earlier, before beginning to change your WordPress theme, keep in mind the proper functionality of your blog. Following the above 15 important steps will help you change your WordPress theme without experiencing any problems.
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