Essential Steps to Change WordPress Theme

The Ethics of Web Development
The Ethics of Web Development

As a WordPress user, you may find yourself in a situation where you want to Change WordPress Theme to give your website a fresh look or to add new functionalities. However, changing your WordPress theme is not as simple as clicking a button.

It requires careful planning and execution to ensure that you don’t lose any important data or customisations. In this article, I will guide you through the essential steps you MUST take before changing your WordPress theme.

Why Change Your WordPress Theme?

Before we delve into the steps, let’s first understand why you might want to change your WordPress theme. The reasons can vary from wanting to update the look of your website, improving its performance, or adding new features.

Xhanging your theme can also lead to potential issues such as loss of customisations, changes in layout, or even loss of content. Therefore, it’s crucial to take the necessary precautions before making the switch.

1. Make a Complete Backup of Your Website

The first and most important step before changing your WordPress theme is to make a complete backup of your website. This includes your website’s database, themes, plugins, uploads, and the wp-config.php file. This step is crucial because if anything goes wrong during the theme change, you can always restore your website to its previous state.

There are several plugins available that can help you backup your website, such as UpdraftPlus, BackupBuddy, and VaultPress. These plugins allow you to schedule automatic backups and store them in a remote location like Google Drive or Dropbox.

2. Export WordPress Theme Customisations

If you have made any customisations to your current theme, it’s important to export these customisations before changing your theme. These customisations can include changes to your theme’s CSS, functions.php file, or any other theme files.

To export your theme customisations, you can use a plugin like Customizer Export/Import. This plugin allows you to export and import your WordPress customizer settings, which include your site title, tagline, colours, header image, and more.

3. Note Down Current Theme Sidebars and Widget Areas

Another important step before changing your WordPress theme is to make note of your current theme’s sidebars and widget areas. This is because different themes have different sidebar and widget area configurations, and you may lose your current configuration when you switch to a new theme.

To make note of your current sidebars and widget areas, you can go to Appearance > Widgets in your WordPress dashboard. Here, you can see all your current sidebars and widget areas and the widgets they contain.

4. Test the New Theme on a Staging Site

Before you activate your new theme on your live site, it’s a good idea to test it on a staging site first. A staging site is a clone of your live site where you can test changes without affecting your live site.

You can create a staging site using a plugin like WP Staging or Duplicator. Once you have your staging site set up, you can install and activate your new theme and check for any issues or conflicts.

Case Study: Changing WordPress Themes

To illustrate the importance of these steps, let’s look at a case study. A popular blog decided to change their WordPress theme to improve their site’s speed and design. However, they didn’t backup their site, export their theme customisations, or make note of their sidebars and widget areas before making the switch.

As a result, they lost all their customisations, their sidebars and widget areas were messed up, and they even lost some of their content. It took them several days to fix these issues and restore their site to its previous state.

This case study highlights the importance of taking the necessary precautions before changing your WordPress theme. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can avoid these issues and ensure a smooth transition to your new theme.


Changing your WordPress theme can be a daunting task, but with careful planning and preparation, it can be a smooth and hassle-free process. Remember to backup your site, export your theme customisations, make note of your sidebars and widget areas, and test your new theme on a staging site before making the switch.

I hope you found this guide helpful. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below. And if you found this article useful, why not subscribe to our newsletter for more WordPress tips and tricks?

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