People love WordPress not just because it is open-source, but for the flexibility it offers. The whole design of the website can be changed by just changing the THEME through the admin panel. But the most important thing to note here is, it is not as simple as it sounds. You are supposed to take care of many things especially if you were using the old theme for quite a while.
If you are a beginner just starting up with WordPress, then check out FirstSiteGuide which has loads of guides, video tutorials and web development resources. Else, below are the steps you would like to follow in order to be sure that your website continues to work like before or even better after getting the new design –
0. Take a backup of your current theme folder – This is like a pre-requisite before you start moving to the new WordPress theme. *Just in case* you messed during the new theme installation, you can revert back to the old theme if you have the backup.
1. Check for broken links – Make sure that there are no broken links once you move to the new theme. Links like About me, Contact me etc are very crucial for a blog and since most of the themes have their default About page, you have to make sure they link to the correct ones.
2. Look for possible security loopholes – Some WordPress theme designers encode some part of their code (especially the footer links) with an idea of not letting the users remove the sponsors link. But, there is a possibility of encoding a malicious script along with this which might prove disastrous for you later on. Have a look at this post and make sure your theme is free of malicious codes.
3. Remove unnecessary code from your WordPress header – Amit from Digital Inspiration has written a wonderful post on Things to be done after installing a wordpress theme. Most of them holds true even when you are updating your wordpress theme, since files like functions.php& header.php gets overwritten with your files from your new theme.
4. Make sure your RSS Subscription link is correct – All the themes have default feed link. Check that you have correctly linked your feed icon to your feeds. You can try subscribing to your site to be sure. When you subscribe with the blog’s URL, your RSS Reader should auto-discover the available feeds.
5. Check if all your Pages are listed properly – Display of pages will be different in different themes. Make sure all the pages are listed properly. In case you had excluded any page from the header of your previous theme, you might have to do the same with the new theme as well.
6. Put back your Stats Tracking code – Most of us use a blog stat tracking script/tool like Google Analytics, Woopra etc. Make sure you have the code snippet/script in the header (or footer) section of your blog theme.
7. Check your Website from different Browsers – This is one of the most important steps to be taken care of when changing the WordPress theme. This is because the blog’s readability is at stake. Make sure there are no alignment issues in different browsers like IE, Firefox, Chrome & Safari.
8. Check if your Sidebar content are correct – Many a times, the themes come with default links/blogrolls. Remove all the unwanted links and widgets from the sidebar. If you had manually added some code in your previous theme, make sure you re-apply them to the new theme as well.
9. Re-evaluate your Plugins usage – You may not need every plugin that you were using before. More the number of plugins, slower will be your website loading time. This will be the right time to re-evaluate your plugins usage as some may be no longer suitable to the theme you are using and some might be redundant.
10. Put back your Adsense/other ads code – If you are not using a plugin to manage your ads, then you must put back the Adsense (or other ad network) code manually in your theme. Also, you might want to change the color of the text ads to blend with the new theme.
11. Check if your Favicon is proper – Favicon should ideally match with the current theme and logo of your blog. So, make sure you change it before the new theme goes live.
13. Put up a post about the new Design – Many of your readers might follow your blog posts through eMail or RSS feed. So, it is important to let everyone know about the new design changes you have just made. Also, ask for feedback from them. This ensures any caveat while changing the theme is covered up soon.
Over to you
I hope this post will be helpful for you when you decide to have a makeover for your WordPress blog. Any other important step you would like to add? Let me know through your comments.