Checklist: Preparing to change your WordPress theme


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With just a few clicks you can change your WordPress theme. Since all themes have different functions and areas (e.g. for widgets), there are a few things you should keep in mind and plan ahead - especially if you are using a highly customized theme. This is the best way to prepare for the change of theme:

Check the adjustments to your current theme

You may have adjusted your current theme manually, e.g. by adding widgets or making changes to the CSS file. These changes will no longer be available after switching to a new theme and some widgets will need to be reactivated.

So take a good look at your entire WordPress page and make a note of all the plugins, widgets and menus that have been added manually. Also save any changes made directly to the code, such as changes to the CSS file or to the tracking code you added to your pages for statistical purposes.

Compare the current and new themes and then decide which plugins to install with the new theme

With the list of all adjustments to the current theme, you can now decide which must be applied to the new theme. Compare both themes thoroughly. For example, the new theme might already contain some plugins that had to be installed manually for your old theme.

Check if the new theme supports widgets

Not all WordPress themes support widgets. If you need widgets for your website, simply filter the search for your new theme accordingly.

Themes can also be made "widget-capable" manually, but this requires programming knowledge.

Check the loading time of your current theme and keep this value for comparison purposes

If the performance of your website is important to you and your visitors, check the loading time of your current theme (e.g. at and note this value for comparison purposes.

Once you have installed the new theme, you can also test the loading time here. If your website loads much slower with the new theme, it might be worth considering searching for another theme. Alternatively, you can also try to optimize your website (e.g. by caching) to achieve better loading times.

Download the new WordPress theme from a trusted source

To ensure that the new theme does not contain any harmful or unwanted code, we recommend that you only use themes from trusted sources, such as the free WordPress theme directory. Good themes can also be found on these websites:

Test the new theme on a test environment

We recommend that you test the new theme before you put it live on your website, especially if you use your website for commercial purposes. The easiest way to do this is via the preview function, which you can access via your WordPress dashboard. Unfortunately, the preview does not always reflect the exact look of your website after the theme change. You can install a copy of your WordPress installation locally for testing themes or plugins or use a test website at your web host.

Here's what you should test:

  • All functions
  • All page types
  • The search function
  • links
  • widgets
  • plug-ins
  • Compatibility with different browsers
  • Loading time of your new theme
  • RSS feed subscriptions

Adapt the colour scheme of your advertisements to the new theme

If the new theme has a different color scheme than the old theme, you can customize the colors of your ads to match the new theme.

Announce the change of theme and choose the right time to do so

Your visitors have to get used to the new look of your website. Even if the theme change does not take much time, it is still good style to announce to your visitors that your website will get a new look and that it may not be available for a short period of time.

WordPress offers the plugin WP-Maintenance-Mode, with which you can display a construction site page while you make changes to your website.

Inform the visitors of your website as soon as the new theme is online and ask for feedback.

Encourage visitors to your website to try out new themes and provide feedback on possible improvements. Use this feedback to make your website even better.

This article was published on 05 Oct 2018 by sebastian.zientek as part of the topic WordPress ###ARTICLEINFO_SENTENCE_END###.