Top 10 Things To Do before Changing Your WordPress Theme
The best thing about WordPress is that you can keep switching themes for customization and better appearance.Changing themes is literally few clicks away. But it is much more than simply clicking Activate. Let’s check out the steps that are critical to make sure the process goes smoothly otherwise you can end up losing elements that you did not mean to lose.
1.Don’t lose Tracking
A lot of us don’t use plugins to add the tracking codes. Some of us open the footer.php file and modify the codes. Some of our themes have a spot to place the Adsense code. Whichever one is your case, you need to make sure that you copy and paste your tracking code to your new theme. This is one of the things that is very commonly overlooked by users. Because it is so simple, most of us forget about it.
A lot of us use FeedBurner for getting default feeds, this way you can have analytics on your feed subscribers. A lot of themes like Genesis, Standard Theme, and others allow you to integrate FeedBurner from their settings panel. You need to make sure that you keep the feed directed to FeedBurner otherwise there will be two RSS feeds for your blog. The main WordPress one, and the FeedBurner one which is taking the info from your WordPress RSS Feed. Except, you will lose count of a lot of the subscribers that you had because they were subscribed using the /feed/ URL which no longer points to FeedBurner. Again, this does not mean you lose them, it just means that you can’t see them in the FeedBurner count.
You never have anything to lose by creating a backup. As a precautionary measure, you should backup all of your theme files, plugins, and the database. Although nothing should happen, but you can never be to safe. You can use BackupBuddy to create a full-site Backup for you.
4.Test all functionality and plugins
Once you have the new theme activated, you need to make sure that you retain all the functionality and plugins still work. Go back and add any and all functionality that you want to bring the old theme into the new theme if you haven’t done so already. Try out all the features including but not limited to the commenting process, single post pages, search, 404 page, archive page, contact page etc. Make sure all of your widgets are still there and are working.
On the plugin front, you just need to make sure that the formatting is still the same. A lot of plugins utilize your existing styles to display their output. So you probably want to make sure that they still look good with the new theme.
5.Customize Third Party Items
If you are using Google Adsense or another ad company that allows you to format them, then your best bet is to customize them. For example, your previous site was blue, so you had blue links for Google Adsense. Now if it is red, then you probably want to take that into account.
Same goes for twitter widget, facebook like buttons etc. Adjust those with your new color scheme. If you are going from a light to a dark design, or vice-versa, then you need to make those changes.
6.Cut off plugins
Themes are now coming pre-loaded with a lot of features. For example, if you are using Genesis or another theme that has BreadCrumbs, then you can get rid of Breadcrumb plugin of yours. The concept is simple. Get rid of things that you don’t need. One thing you should make sure though is often plugins can do the job better. For example, a lot of themes are coming with tons of SEO features. Genesis, Thesis, Standard Theme, and all others boast about their SEO features.
7.Test Loading Time
Loading time is a very important aspect to check on while activating a new theme. Take the load time numbers that you had on your old theme, and compare the two.
8.Monitor Bounce Rate
After switching themes, you want to make sure that you are monitoring bounce rate. Some themes are just friendlier than others when it comes to navigating the readers around your site. If your bounce rate has increased compared to the previous theme, then you should probably work on that. Add related posts widgets, popular posts widgets, or simply have a better call-to-action for new readers.
9.Cross Browser Compatibility
Test your site in all browsers you have access to. Browsers have a tendency of rendering things differently. Especially Internet Explorer. You want to make sure that your design looks good in major browsers. Some pretty looking themes have a tendency of breaking in various browsers. So if a lot of your audience is using Internet Explorer, then you want to make sure that it is still accessible to them.
You probably don’t want your users to see while you are making the switch because they will end up seeing a broken site or such. It is best to turn on Maintenance mode for fifteen twenty minutes that it may take you to make sure that everything is working properly. Once you have setup Maintenance mode, you are good to go ahead and activate the new theme.
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