Weird thing happened to me after blogging for a year or so…I decided it was time to change WordPress Themes. In the beginning of blogging, I know I changed themes about a dozen times before agreeing on a WordPress Theme Premium, Restored316 Beloved.
My Theme is beautiful and exhilarating. Only problem is… after months of using it, I felt it was too “busy”. The WordPress Theme I had chosen, fortunately, had two versions. A “blogger” version, that focused on blog posts, and a “Website” version. I had originally chosen the “blogger” version.
Changing WordPress Themes Can be Challenging
Now, let me tell you, changing WordPress Themes is not necessarily an easy feat. Sometimes, you can simply uninstall one, and install the other and it works. Sometimes, not so much. So start with these questions:
Ask Yourself These questions before Changing a WordPress Theme
Do you have any “theme-y” plug-ins?
Look for ones that are specific to this WordPress Theme. They will usually have the theme name in the plug-in. Like “Oceans Extra” or something like that. If you do have these, how and where are you using them? For example let’s say an “Extra” feature of a theme has specific blocks that are colored, centered and fancy. Where are you using this feature? You will likely lose the feature once you change themes.
One of the benefits to using a Genesis theme is that many plug-ins work regardless of theme and will carry through to your next theme, if you are using a Genesis child theme. However, some will not work nicely without a little care.
Are you using a Page Builder along with your WordPress Theme?
While Page Builders such as Beaver, Elementor, Divi, and Themify definitely have their uses, you should know that these may not translate well into your new theme. In addition, NEVER EVER use a page builder to write a blog post. You will lose it if you change themes.
Do you use any additional CSS in your WordPress theme?
If you have any additional CSS such as font settings, size, etc. you will need to copy the CSS into a note somewhere. (I use either Evernote, Trello, or Notion). Also annotate where exactly you had applied this additional CSS.
What about all my other WordPress Plug-in’s?
Anything specific to your existing theme should be deactivated. When you installed the theme in the beginning, some plug-ins may have been required. You can look at the description of the plug-in to determine if it belongs or not. If in doubt, deactivate. Once your new theme is installed and happy, you can either try the plug-in with the new theme one at a time to see if it works, or delete it.
Do you have a Blog Notebook and Brand Kit?
A Blog Notebook is all about your blog, written somewhere. A Brand Kit may be part of your notebook or a separate piece. The Brand Kit is what you would give someone, or use yourself, to ensure your blog posts look and feel the same. Your Brand Kit has things like fonts, colors, etc.
For example, the Blog NoteBook and Brand Kit should include, at a minimum:
- Name of your Blog
- Website Address
- Login and Password
- Your Tagline
- Elevator Speach
- A section for all the affiliates you use
- Brand Kit should include:
- All Logos used and their location
- All fonts used and default sizes (blogpost size, Heading 2, 3, etc.)
- All colors, including their color number
- When to use Headings and How
- A style guide, at a minimum, explaining what NOT to use. For example, I never use Drop Caps.
This Notebook and BrandKit information will become useful in the following paragraphs.
Now that we have determined what to watch for, we need to do some backups. I recommend three.
First, if you don’t already have it, install the plug-in Updraft Plus. In the settings of Updraft Plus, enable the ability to backup to another location such as DropBox, OneDrive, Google Drive, etc.
Oh! And if you’re looking for a Theme, best place I know is Restored316. Beautiful themes, flexibility, and service!
Step 1: Backup Your Site
Follow these steps for your backup.
- In your WordPress Back-end Control Panel, find the Backup Wizard. Make a FULL backup of your site.
- Go to your WordPress Dashboard. Go to Updraft Plus. Make a backup of all posts. Make sure you can locate the file after it’s done.
- Go to your WordPress Dashboard. Go to Updraft Plus. Make a full backup of everything.
Now, there are two types of backups here that I should mention. The one from the backend backs us EVERYTHING, including your WordPress Installation. The one from Updraft Plus, full backup backs up wordpress databases, posts, pages, etc. The actual WordPress installation is NOT backed up.
Step 2: Deactivate WordPress Theme and Theme-Related Plug-ins
Next step, deactivate your theme-related plug-ins.
Deactivate your Theme and install a built-in theme, if you want, such as twenty-seven or something like that.
Step 3: Install Your New WordPress Theme and plug-ins
Now, install your new theme, including any plug-ins required.
After the theme is activated, take a look at your site. if it looks good, then you’re all set. If not, it’s probably easiest to go the Semi-Drastic mode.
Step 4: Semi-Drastic Mode
Semi-Drastic Mode – Remove and Reinstall WordPress
Remove and Reinstall WordPress is accomplished by going to the BackEnd control panel. Under Softilicious, you will see WordPress. When you open that, you will see your WordPress installation. Follow the prompts to delete it, then reinstall.
After WordPress is reinstalled, you should do all the things to set it up again, logo, tag line, colors, etc. But first…
Step 4: Install Your New Theme and plug-ins
Install your NEW theme, including any plug-ins required.
Setup WordPress and install all applicable plug-ins necessary. Remember the list of plug-ins we made above?
Step 5: Using Updraft Plus, restore your posts only.
Step 6: Reconfigure WordPress
Make any applicable changes from your Brand Kit or css notes.
Step 7: Drastic
Restore from the backup you made in the Back-end of WordPress Control Panel. Start again.
Now let me tell you about one Caveat I have. You see I have two blogs. When I started blogging, as I said, I used a Restored316 theme with emphasis on blogging. Then I changed it to the emphasis on Website. I’m happy with the changes and I followed this process.
So for my second blog, I thought I had learned my lesson and setup this new blog as “Website”. Problem was, I didn’t do my research. You see, my second blog is a True Crime Blog. I looked at many many other Crime blog sites and, guess what? They all used some for, of blogger site. Hmmm. So do I just “be different”? Or should I conform?
I started with the “website” Theme. I tried to make it work, seriously I did, but it was not pleasing, nor was it easy as a user to find what was new or that I wanted to read about. Well, hell. So off to reinstall I went, right?
The morale of the story is … do your research. Think like a user. Is it pleasing to look at? Is it too much information? Can I easily find what I want?
With all that said, just know that it isn’t a quick thing to change themes. I would personally allocate about 6-8 hours before I am fully functional. Yours may be shorter or longer.
If you need help setting up WordPress and installing plug-ins, refer to our blog post Blog Tech Training.
Until Next Time, Happy Blogging!
Your Fairy Blogmother
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