How To Easily Change WordPress Themes

According to Code in WP, WordPress currently runs 28% of the internet, and as the #1 recommended WordPress hosting provider it’s no surprise to us. WordPress offers the very best in website building, website, plugins, and themes. WordPress has over 1500 themes, many of them free with different design and functionality opportunities. Choose a theme that works best for your online presence.

After choosing a theme, you may want to switch to a new one or preview potential options for a switch. Before you change your theme, be sure to follow these steps and backup or clone your existing site to ensure that your theme change goes smoothly.

Be careful when changing your theme. Most of your information will transfer, but not all of it. Your pages, posts, default WordPress settings, and media uploads will be unaffected. However, the change will affect the display of your information.

Some things to make sure of before switching:

    • Check that the new theme supports your current plugins. If you’ve built your site around particular plugins, you will want their functionality to remain intact even after switching.
    • Preview the theme before activation. See if the theme affects your site on mobile by browsing your pages and posts. Also, take note of the items it affects so you can adjust them later.
  • See if the site will readily adapt to your old content. If it seems like the changes may be too cumbersome, or if the new theme doesn’t adapt your content the way you want, then it may be worthwhile to find a better theme.

After taking the time to prepare for your theme change, the process of switching over your theme is fairly simple. Changing your WordPress theme takes only 3 steps.

Install a theme from WordPress

  1. Navigate to your theme in WordPress

Login and click “My Sites” and then select “Themes.” On the Theme page it shows you the current theme in use at the top of the page as well as potential themes below.

You can use the search bar to browse for a new site theme or scroll down to see additional choices.

2. Preview a theme

The themes are available to preview by selecting the three dots next to the theme name. After clicking on them, select “Try and Customize.” This takes you to the Customizer where you can see a live preview of the theme, navigate to see how it works, and test drive the effects.


3. Select “Save & Activate” or “Purchase” to make theme active

After customizing your potential theme, you can make it permanent by choosing “Save & Activate” or “Purchase.” Choosing that option will return you back to the Themes page where the new theme is “Current.”

Install a theme from a zip file

Installing a theme from a zip file works for custom themes or premium ones purchased a commercial provider. Once purchased, they will offer the theme download in the form of a .zip file.

  1. Navigate to the Themes page

To start, you will navigate to the themes page found in step one by going to My Sites → Themes.

2. Select “Upload Theme”

On the Themes page, under the search bar for WordPress themes, is the “Upload Theme” button next to an upload icon. Uploading a Theme requires a WordPress Business Plan. With this option, there will be no advertisements, additional customization, and live chat support.

3. Select your file in the Theme upload form

Select the zip file for your commercial or premium theme in the form by clicking “Choose File”. After selecting it, the file will upload for use. Then choose the “Install Now” button. WordPress will then upload the theme to the site and install it for you.

After changing over your theme, make sure you:

    • Reassign your custom menus – You’ll need to adjust your menus so that they show up in the new headers and footers available in the new theme. Different themes offer different kinds of navigation.
    • Adjust your widgets – Just like your custom menus, your widgets may need a new location with the new theme.
    • Re-apply any custom CSS – Custom CSS will not sync automatically to a new theme. Go to My Sites → Customize → CSS to find your previous site’s CSS.
  • Check your SEO  – If your site was using built-in SEO, rather than a plugin, then use the SEO Data Transporter to save your SEO data.

For more information about some of the items that can be affected by switching templates, and how to address them, click here.

Now that you have successfully changed your theme, you can update the display and visuals to fully customize your online presence the way you want.

This post was created using screenshots from WordPress version 4.8.1.

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