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10 Things You MUST DO Before Changing WordPress Themes

Do you have any questions about what you should do before changing WordPress themes?

When switching your WordPress theme, there are a few crucial steps to follow to ensure that the transition goes smoothly and that no important data is lost.

We’ll go over the top things you should do before switching WordPress themes in this WordPress checklist.

Changing a theme is a big decision that every website owner has to make every few years or so.

Of course, you must decide why you’re switching and select a theme that meets all of your requirements.

If you’re looking for recommendations, we have a list of the best WordPress multi-purpose themes and best WordPress blog themes.

Once you’ve decided on a theme, make sure to go over the checklist below to make sure you don’t lose any content or data in the process.

1. Make a list of changes you’ve made to the WordPress theme

Some WordPress website owners customise their themes by directly inserting code snippets into the theme files. Code snippets can help you add new features to your website that aren’t included in the default theme.

However, if you add those snippets to your theme files directly, it’s easy to lose track of them.

If these changes were made by you or a web developer, make sure you go through your current theme files and note all of the new code.

We always recommend using a site-specific plugin or a code snippets plugin to add code snippets in the future. You’ll be able to keep those snippets even if you switch themes later.

2. Get Current WordPress Theme Performance Metrics 

Before you change your theme, make sure your current website’s loading speed and performance are satisfactory. This allows you to compare any changes in page load time after switching themes.

Because WordPress speed and performance are so important for user experience and SEO, you’ll want to make sure the new theme is faster than the one you’re currently using.

Using a WordPress speed testing tool like IsItWP’s free website speed testing tool, you can easily check your current website speed metrics.

3. Make Note of Current Theme Sidebars and Widget Areas

Sidebars are used to add widgets such as email newsletter subscription forms, social media buttons, popular posts, and more to your website.

When you switch themes, your widgets may unexpectedly move or disappear from your site because each theme has different widget areas.

That’s why, before switching themes, make a list of the widgets you’re using in your WordPress sidebars and any other widget areas of your website. Then, after switching, you can easily replicate them.

If you’ve used any custom code or shortcodes, make a copy of them and save them somewhere safe so you can use them with your new theme.

4. Copy Existing WordPress Tracking Codes

Sidebars are used to add widgets such as email newsletter subscription forms, social media buttons, popular posts, and more to your website.

When you switch themes, your widgets may unexpectedly move or disappear from your site because each theme has different widget areas.

That’s why, before switching themes, make a list of the widgets you’re using in your WordPress sidebars and any other widget areas of your website. Then, after switching, you can easily replicate them.

If you’ve used any custom code or shortcodes, make a copy of them and save them somewhere safe so you can use them with your new theme.

5. Backup Your Current WordPress Website

Backing up your website on a regular basis is always a good idea. You should back up all of your posts, pages, plugins, media, and databases before changing your theme.

The simplest way to do this is to create a backup of your entire site using a WordPress backup plugin. See our guide on how to backup your WordPress site with UpdraftPlus for more information.

This will ensure that if something goes wrong while switching themes, you can easily recover your website.

6. Activate the Maintenance Mode on your WordPress site

It’s always a good idea to put your website into maintenance mode when making changes. You can display a user-friendly notice to your visitors while in maintenance mode.

This keeps your visitors from seeing your website while it’s still being built or half-finished.

We recommend using the SeedProd plugin for this. It’s the most popular drag-and-drop WordPress page builder, with over a million websites using it.

It allows you to create custom maintenance mode pages, landing pages, coming soon pages, 404 pages, and more with ease.

7. Test All Functionality and Installed WordPress Plugins

Once you’ve installed a new WordPress theme, double-check that it has the same functionality as the old one and that all of your old plugins work with it.

Start by re-inserting the code snippets you copied from your previous WordPress theme files. See our beginner’s guide to pasting code snippets into WordPress for more information.

Then, spend some time using the WordPress plugins that power your site’s features. If you’re having trouble with WordPress errors right now, check out our beginner’s guide to troubleshooting WordPress errors.

8. Test New WordPress Theme Across Browsers and Devices

Cross-browser testing ensures that your new website is compatible with a variety of browsers, screen sizes, operating systems, and mobile devices.

The majority of your visitors will most likely visit your WordPress blog using Google Chrome. Other web browsers, such as Firefox, Microsoft Edge, Safari, and others, are still used by hundreds of millions of people around the world.

If one of those browsers doesn’t work properly with your new website, you’re losing visitors and traffic.

To see how your website looks across different browsers and devices, you can use a variety of cross-browser testing tools.

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