In our fast-paced world, website designs in particular are quickly outdated. If you don’t want your WordPress site to fall behind and look outdated, you have to adjust the design of your site regularly. We explain step by step how to give your WordPress site a successful redesign.
1. MAKE A BACKUP OF YOUR SITE
Before changing anything, it is important to back up your site. This way you are on the safe side if something unexpectedly goes wrong and you have to switch your site back to the old design. You can find out how to create a backup of your WordPress site in our article Tips for increasing your WordPress security.
2. CLEAN UP YOUR WORDPRESS SITE
A redesign is a good opportunity to clean up your WordPress site. Fix broken links, delete spam comments and dispose of old unused plugins and themes. First remove the unused plugins and themes. They mean security gaps for your site. Optimize your database, remove unused data and achieve a higher speed for your WordPress site. Plugins like the WP-DBManager are helpful. You can easily remove broken links with the Broken Link Checker Plugin. When you have cleaned up your site, create a new backup.
3. INSTALL YOUR NEW THEME ON A TEST PAGE
It has proven useful to first install a new theme on a test page before switching. This is also suitable for testing new plugins and widgets without endangering your own WordPress site. To create a test site, you can either install WordPress locally on your computer (although this requires a little more technical understanding and effort) or simply install a second variant of WordPress in a subfolder of your domain. If you choose this option, remember to prevent search engines from indexing your page in the settings. To do this, select the item Read under the Settings menu item and check the box in front of Forbid search engines to index the website. Ideally, your test site should already have the same layout as your live site before you install the new theme. Because a new WordPress theme might work on a brand new WordPress site, but installing it on an existing site can cause problems with plugins or other elements. You want to test this case, so your test page should be set up accordingly.
In order to duplicate your page on the test page, you need to import the backed up data from step 1 and upload all relevant files for the content. A useful plugin for this step is Duplicator. You can read about how to duplicate a page with this WordPress plugin in our article WordPress move with Duplicator.
4. CHECK YOUR TEST PAGE
After setting up your test site, you should first check that all WordPress plugins you are using are installed and activated before activating your new theme. You should then methodically go through each individual section of your WordPress test site and check that everything is working. If you use images in your posts, chances are your new theme will use different image sizes than your old one. You can use the Regenerate Thumbnails plugin to restore your thumbnails and continue using the images.
Some themes work with templates for standard pages. If you want to use this for some of your subpages, you have to open each of these pages and change the template manually. If you want to change all the pages at once, the best way to do this is via the page screen.
If you make settings in the dashboard for your new theme, you should make a note of them so that you can then repeat them on your live site. Some themes allow you to import and export settings, which makes things a lot easier.
5. ACTIVATE THE NEW THEME ON YOUR LIVE PAGE
If the new theme works fine on your test site, you can activate the new theme on your live site as well. Be sure to apply any changed settings. Then check all sections of your page again and test whether everything works. If the process is taking a long time, for example because you have to edit a lot of images with the Regenerate Thumbnails plugin, it may make sense to temporarily block access to your site. Use the WP Maintenance Mode plugin to notify your users that your site is down because you are upgrading. You can even set a countdown there that shows when your WordPress site will be available again. Remember to deactivate the plugin when editing and testing is complete.
6. WRITE ABOUT YOUR REDESIGN
Congratulations, you have successfully completed your redesign! Make sure that your readers are informed about the changes and use screenshots of the new page. Readers who subscribe to your WordPress blog via RSS feeds won’t notice anything else about your new design. For some readers, their browser’s cache may prevent them from loading the new page or parts of it. Let your readers know that they may need to clear your cache to get your WordPress site working properly for them again.
QUESTIONS OR DIFFICULTIES?
Complications arose during your redesign or you would like advice on which new design best suits your WordPress site and brings it up to date? Contact us, the WordPress experts of our elancer team will be happy to support you in redesigning your WordPress site.