How to Change a WordPress Theme

Do you need to change a WordPress theme and are having trouble getting this done? The process for switching WordPress themes is simple, but there are extra steps you should take to make sure it goes smoothly. We have put together this beginner-friendly tutorial to help you learn the best ways to change WordPress themes while preserving your site’s existing content and functionality.

How to Change a WordPress Theme?

Do you Lose content When You Change WordPress Themes?

This is a common question people have when it comes to changing WordPress themes. It is important to quickly highlight what happens to your existing content when you change themes. Most of your regular site elements will not be affected by changing themes. You will get new styling from your new theme, but there will not be any changes with any of the following:

  • Your posts and pages.
  • Any core WordPress settings you have, such as a static homepage.
  • Any plugins that you’re using will stay the same as long as they aren’t tied to your current theme.
  • Basic site information like your site name and description will stay the same.

There are some theme-specific pieces of content that will not always make the change when you change themes. It is important to be aware of these before you decide to make the switch. Items that may not make the change are things like:

  • Theme-specific shortcodes that come with themes will no longer function once you change themes.
  • Some themes come with homepage sections that function outside the normal WordPress page system for increased flexibility. These will no longer work when you change themes.
  • Themes-specific widgets that come with a theme, like shortcodes, will no longer work once the theme is changed.

You may also find that you need to reconfigure your existing menus and widget areas after a theme change, but you will not actually lose the functionality. The majority of your content will come through unchanged when you switch WordPress themes. That being said, if you are using any functionality that’s unique to your theme, rather than part of a plugin or the core WordPress software, you will probably lose those when you change the theme.

How To Change WordPress Themes the Right Way?

Before you change a WordPress theme, you should first back up your site, and then create a staging site if at all possible. Once you have done this, or at least have the site backed up, you are ready to go. Below are the steps to follow to change your WordPress theme the right way.

Step 1: Installation of a new theme

Go to the Appearance tab and select “Themes”. Under here you will click on “Add New”. You can search for the theme by name if you have added it through WordPress.org. Once you find the theme, click the install button. If you have purchased a premium theme or have one on a ZIP file, you can upload this file by clicking the Upload Theme button. This installs the theme, but do not yet click the Activate button.

Step 2: Preview the new theme

Using WordPress Customizer, you can preview the new theme you selected. This helpful feature lets you play around with the theme before making it active. You can see how your existing content will look with the new theme and correct any issues with menus and widgets. To use

WordPress Customizer:

  • Go to Appearance and Customize in the dashboard.
  • Click Change in the sidebar.
  • Click the Live Preview button next to the new theme installed.
  • You will then see a live preview of your new theme and existing content.

Assuming your new theme makes use of the WordPress Customizer, you can also make other tweaks. You can also click through your site to see how other pages look. For example, if you want to click on a blog post, WordPress will load that blog post using the preview of your new theme so you can see how it will appear with the new theme.

Step 3: Activation

After you have looked through your site using the live preview and have made any changes you want to make, the next step is to activate and publish the theme. Select the Activate & Publish button to do this and you are good to go with a new theme.

Finishing Up

Most people want to switch themes at some point with WordPress, so this is something that is worth learning. The process is simple but you want to make sure you go about it the right way. This way you get a new theme without losing functionality or content from your site. Following the right steps ensures your site will function as well with the new theme as it did with the old one. The steps really are easy. All you have to remember to do is:

  • Install your new theme
  • Preview your new theme using the WordPress Customizer
  • Make sure your menus and widgets look right
  • Activate your theme to make it live

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