Changing a WordPress theme is not simply a matter of clicking the erase button and putting on a new color. It has to be done properly and correctly to ensure you don’t break anything on your site.
Here’s the good news. WordPress has the best website themes and plug-ins. With over 1500 themes and designs, WordPress makes site modification a fun experience rather than challenging.
In this article, we will walk you through the process of how to change WordPress theme and personalize your site.
Before that, let us talk about the basics – starting with what themes are and why they are important for your site.
What is a WordPress Theme?
A WordPress theme determines your site looks. It includes several design elements that highly affect the visual appeal of your site such as featured photos, text alignment, color, widgets, and plug-ins.
Obviously, changing your theme is not something you do on a whim. This is because switching an old theme to a new one will cause some design elements to disappear.
So if you want to update your site and make it look good, you need to do it right.
How to Choose the Right Theme
Nowadays, many organizations incorporate sophisticated themes for their site with multiple functionalities and captivating colors. And with all these on the frontline, it makes it more convincing to finally change your site and make it more competitive.
For example, you might need to shift into a theme with multiple ad slot areas that comes handy if you want to monetize your site with ads. However, like we said, a theme should be chosen carefully in order to achieve your goals. These steps are important if you want to know how to change a WordPress theme.
- Pick a theme that is compatible with all major browsers. Obviously, you want to reach as much audience as possible. Choosing a theme that works on all browsers across multiple devices will ensure a wider coverage for your site.
- Check for plug-in support. Some themes are designed with certain plug-ins in mind; therefore they might not work with your current plug-ins. If you activate a new theme without checking for plug-in support, you might lose essential functionalities in your website.
- Consider your page builder integration. Page builders make it easy to create the ideal layout for your website. So check whether your favorite tools work with your theme.
- Check for support channels. Look whether a theme you’re about to choose has customer support just in case you need assistance with integration and activation.
- Check SEO capabilities. Make sure the theme you are choosing has been coded with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) capacities. A theme that is optimized for search engines is easier to load.
- Ensure mobile-responsiveness. Find a theme that is mobile-friendly. Without this feature, your website will appear enlarge when viewed on mobile phones and you don’t want that to happen.
Steps on How to Change WordPress Theme
Step 1: Back up everything.
It is a standard process to ensure you’ve backed up your site before making any changes. So if something goes wrong you can easily switch back to normal.
Save a copy of your posts, images, plug-ins, and codes using a WordPress backup plug-in. You can download this backup to your computer and upload it later when necessary.
Step 1: Go to your WordPress theme section.
Navigate to your Dashboard. Click on the left side toolbar and select Appearance > Themes from the menu.
You should be able to see a list of available themes in WordPress that you can use for free. You will also see that your current theme is highlighted in the options.
Step 2: Preview the theme.
Fortunately, there is an option that allows you to see how your site would look with a specific theme without making any changes yet. Just click the three dots next to the theme name.
A dropdown menu should appear. Click on “Try and Customize” and it takes you to a customizer where you can see a live preview of the theme. Now, navigate through customizer and see if it looks good on your site.
Your next move basically depends whether you want to use the free themes that WordPress offers or you’ve bought a premium theme somewhere else.
Eitherway, click the Add New button and move on to the next phase. Now, you’re so close to knowing how to change WordPress theme.
Step 3: Select a theme from the directory.
If you wish to utilize the free themes by WordPress just use the search box from the WordPress theme directory to browse your options. You can choose from featured, popular, and latest themes.
Once you find the theme that matches your personality and functionality, just click on the theme and activate it.
In seconds, you will have your new theme.
Step 4: Install a premium theme.
If you’ve bought a premium theme somewhere else, you should have a ZIP file. On the theme page, click on Add Theme > Upload Theme. Then select the ZIP file from your computer to upload it on your site and confirm changes.
Usually, you will see an activation button to overwrite your old theme. Click on the Activate button and your site will have a new look.
Step 5: Make necessary adjustments.
After activating your theme makes sure you do some necessary adjustments to make your new theme works. The adjustments basically vary depending on your new theme. Initially, you would need to do the following:
- Reassign your custom menus – Normally you have a primary and custom menu on your site. But with a new theme, they may change position or disappear. So check your homepage and reassign your custom menus so they appear on the new header or footer.
Go to Appearance > Menus > Edit Menus.
- Adjust your widgets – With your new theme, some of your widgets may not look good in their old position. You may transfer them to the bottom or to the side depending on how your site is currently aligned. Some very useful widgets are your social icons, Google maps, WPForms, and the WP Call Button.
You can find the Widgets under Appearance > Widgets.
- Re-apply your custom CSS – Take note that your previous CSS will not automatically sync with your new theme. A custom CSS basically affects the tone of your website. So if you want to have a new theme but keep the old CSS, just go to Appearance > Customize > CSS. Find your previous site’s CSS and enter it on the text box. Then click Update Custom CSS.
There you go. The steps on how to change WordPress theme is quite easy. When done right, you should have no issues like white screen appearing after activating a new theme.
A white or black screen is an indication of a compatibility error which is fixable albeit time-consuming. Clearly, you don’t want this to happen. If anything goes bad, you should review the process and check for compatibility. If the issue persists, you should contact a web developer to help you fix it.
Now that your new theme has been implemented, you can head to your homepage and see how it looks.