Post from April 25, 2019
Changing the theme on WordPress is very easy. If you have already decided on a design, it only takes a few clicks in the backend of the CMS. However, as with many website changes, the devil is in the details. So that you have as little work as possible after the theme change, you should prepare yourself well.
How difficult is it to change my WordPress theme?
Changing a WordPress theme is quite easy. But each theme comes with different layout options, shortcodes, etc. The problems that arise when changing the theme depend, among other things, on the reasons for the change. It is usually less time-consuming and complicated if you want to change the WordPress theme because you simply don’t like the look of the old design anymore. It becomes significantly more work in the course of a relaunch, where the navigation, the text and image content as well as various functions are often changed, added or adapted. Another aspect that influences the scope of work is the complexity of the theme.
Can content be lost when changing the theme?
First the good news: no, the content will not be lost, even if it may not be visible in the front end of the new theme. All content, i.e. texts, images, videos, etc. are stored in a database in WordPress. The display errors are caused by assignment errors, since each theme has its own features. And if any of those features don’t support certain content renderings, they’re either missing or the rendering looks “weird”.
If you have chosen a very extensive theme with a wide range of functions when creating your website, such problems are inevitable. This makes editing easier for you, but it can get really tedious when you switch to a different theme, because every function that is linked to the WordPress theme will cause difficulties with the new design. It’s always better to use plugins for adjustments, then there are fewer problems when you change your WordPress theme again.
Clean documentation and preparation saves trouble and time
The better you document changes to your website, the easier it will be for you to switch to the new WordPress theme. Adaptations to the theme are best recorded as comments in the source code, general changes in a text file, eg information on colors, menus or the navigation structure. Screenshots are also very helpful.
Also, be sure to back up the old design and save it on another server. You never know exactly which settings or adjustments will be lost.
Another important aspect of the preparations is the consideration of the functions of the new theme: What does it absolutely have to be able to do? What is just a nice addition? Think carefully about the new structure – where should what be? How should it be presented? Which colors are important?
Requirements for the new theme:
- It should match your ideas as closely as possible. This is especially important if you have little experience with HTML, CSS or PHP.
- If you use a page builder with the current theme, make sure that the new theme supports this page builder.
- Be sure to test the new theme before publishing it: is the navigation correct? Are the links, widgets, forms, etc. working? Does the site work in different browsers?
- You can use the live preview of the theme to see if all the plugins are working as they should. You should also check whether the old plugins are really still needed. This is not only important in terms of functionality, but also in terms of page speed.
WordPress theme change can affect search engine rankings
Changing the theme in WordPress can affect search engine rankings (just like changing themes in other CMS), both negatively and positively. However, this mainly relates to changes in the HTML code, for example in the marking of headings. If the new theme only affects changes to the CSS, this usually has no effect on the ranking.
When it comes to search engines, you should also keep in mind that the new theme will affect the behavior of visitors to your site. You should switch WordPress themes if you feel that the new theme better suits the needs of the target audience. Then the time spent on the page will also increase, which in turn will have a positive effect on the ranking.