13 Tips That You Should Consider When Creating or Changing Your WordPress Theme

The biggest advantage of WordPress is that it is very easy to change design and functions. The around 3000 themes in the WordPress directory and all the premium themes tempt you to test dozens of themes before deciding on your favorite one.

Unfortunately, switching from one theme to another is not always that easy. Themes have a wide variety of layout options, work with their own sport codes, and place the logos or sidebars differently.

Depending on the topic’s complexity, a theme can require a lot of customization before you are happy with the look and feel of your new website and venture out into the public eye. In this article, we will look at what to consider when switching between two themes.

Make yourself a checklist.

I’ve got used to documenting every adjustment in a theme. I write code changes to the file with a short comment. I write down general changes to widgets, menus, links, colors, etc. in a text file (or Evernote). It is good advice to note the navigation structure, as the menu structure is over with some topic changes (especially if you have built-in individual links). Also, a new beginning is made easier because you can compare and optimize your menu structure 1: 1.

Also, check the functionality between the themes. A popular mistake is to leave all plugins from all theme variants activated. This is not beneficial. Check which plugins you need for which theme! You can deactivate all other plugins – or even better, delete them. I have created a plugin evergreen folder where I do not need any plugins, but I save good plugins for the what-if-case.

Many themes also offer their widgets. Depending on the theme, these cannot be reproduced.

Tip: Take a screenshot of your most important pages and widgets. In this way, you can ensure that you adopt the correct position and order in the new topic.

Tip 2: Make sure you make a note of the colors you use in the theme. Often you adapt your desired colors with a lot of love, but forget that these are saved with the theme. If you change the theme, the colors are gone. Here you are well-advised if you have written down the color values ​​beforehand. The same applies to the steps and font sizes.

Start with a backup

Before you make a big change, you should make a backup of the site. If you change a single page, you can copy the corresponding file. If you change the theme, you should make a backup copy of your installation, especially since this is free of charge.

wordpress backup

There are many free backup plugins available, such as myRepono WordPress Backup PluginSimple BackupBackup, and many more.

A popular plugin is “Backup.”

This plugin offers a free backup and restores that works in the background. Databases, files, themes, and plugins are backed up. You can automatically save the backup to multiple locations, including Dropbox, FTP, and many more. If there is a problem with the change, it is easy to get back to the original website.

Maintenance mode

Renovation work can sometimes take several hours. Depending on the complexity of the website, the website can even be “off” for several days. It is a good idea to put the website in maintenance mode during this time.

wordpress website maintenance mode

There are many plugins out there to put the website in maintenance mode while you are working on the website, such as Coming SoonWP Maintenance Mode, WordPress Maintenance Mode, and others.

Let the user know that there are a few changes being made and how long the maintenance will be.

Save code in footers and headers.

Many programmers also put a lot of code in the headers and footers. These can be codes from Google Analytics, confirmation codes from Facebook, banners, promotional codes, logos, and more. Make sure that you have copied this code so that you can paste it into the new theme later.

Sidebars and Widgets

Widgets are an easy way to design a theme. Accordingly, many themes offer dozens of widget areas. Make sure that these areas are usually specified individually by the theme. As soon as you install a new theme, these widgets are moved to the active widgets area, or in the worst case, even deleted.

sidebar in wordpress

So that you don’t lose text widgets in particular, I recommend moving all widgets to the inactive widgets area before changing themes.

So if your new theme does not contain a corresponding area, you have saved your content anyway and can create a widget area according to the specifications of your new team and copy your content.

Secure CSS

The appearance of a template can easily be changed with CSS. Remember that the CSS file belongs to the theme. So you have to save these too so that you can transfer your changes to your new theme. This also applies to the changes you have made to plugins.

I recommend creating your own child theme in which you can enter your changes. You can then easily copy this content into your new child theme and do not have to start all over again to make all the graphic changes for your plugins and theme settings.

Post extracts

Some topics will automatically trim posts while others use a “more” tag. If you always want to see an excerpt or the full content, you can write this directly into the code. Use the_excerpt () instead of the_content () for text excerpts. This will automatically place an excerpt on your homepage – and vice versa.

Contact form

If you’re using forms, don’t forget to set up your email address. Some topics have templates for contact forms. Other themes can easily be expanded to include this function via a plugin. I use the free plugin “Conact 7”.

404 page

Anyone who tinkers with a theme will quickly touch the individual pages and page structures. In this case, it happens that one or the other link no longer works. So make sure that all links still work after the conversion. A 404 page represents faulty pages. These pages can be read out with a simple plugin. I use the ” Redirection ” plugin for this :

404 page in wordpress

This plugin shows all 404 errors so that you quickly get an overview of where you have to make manual improvements. Now you can link the missing pages to the new pages with a 301 command. So Google knows where to find the new pages. In addition, the visitor no longer receives an error page.

Page layouts

Modern themes are delivered with a drag & drop layout. These layouts make it very easy to design a page. The disadvantage, however, is that you are more or less tied to the corresponding page builder.

So you should make sure that you use a temple that supports your own page builder when you change. Otherwise, I recommend taking a screenshot of the most important pages before switching so that you can easily recreate the look you want with the new theme and the new page builder.

All current themes from designers offer a modern page builder, with which almost any layout can be recreated very quickly.

Testing

Make sure to test your new website thoroughly before launching it. Test menus, links, sidebars, widgets, images, galleries, advertisements, registration forms, etc. Please don’t just click on the homepage.

You should also check multiple pages and posts, the search box, the comment box, the contact form, and the RSS feed. Also, make sure to test the new theme in all major browsers, including mobile devices:

Internet Explorer
Chrome
Firefox
Safari
Opera

Also, test the loading time and make sure to monitor the bounce rate. A good tool here is, for example, Pingdom or GTMetrix.

Ask a few friends to take a look at the website and see if there are any problems with the user experience.

Write an article

As soon as you have gone live with your new site, you could write a post and point out to your readers what is new to discover on your site. In this context, ask for feedback and wish your readers. In this way, you can continuously improve the functionality of – and the result on your website.

Tips

Make a small checklist using the steps above. This way, you make sure that you don’t forget anything when you change the topic.

To test new designs, I would use a trial installation. Do not test a design in active operation. Try to avoid the inconvenience of a construction site or at least keep it short.

Remember that plugins also often adapt their appearance to the theme. So after setting up a new design, check whether the plugins still match the overall impression.

Ask your visitors for feedback.

How do you start your new website? Which tools make it easier for you to get started, and what may I have forgotten here? Please write me a comment! I look forward to your feedback.