Getting a new WordPress theme is always exciting. It’s funny how a new look can totally reset the way you look at your blog and bring back the motivation you felt when you first got started.
One of the great things about WordPress is how easy it is to change your look. There are thousands of themes available and you can switch to any one at any time! Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that it’s always a super quick and easy task. So today, we’ll go over 5 things to remember when changing WordPress themes.
Before you start the update
Always put up a coming soon page
It might seem like a quick and simple thing or maybe you feel like you don’t have enough website visitors for it to matter, but always put up a coming soon page when you’re getting ready to change out your theme.
You don’t want someone to visit your website for the first time and wonder why it looks like a disaster, even though you’re just in the middle of getting a new look.
Check out our post on setting up a coming soon page for free on WordPress to get you started!
Once the theme is updated
Check your menu locations
Taking a look at your theme and comparing it to other’s out there, you’ll see that there are many different options for menu locations. Some of the more popular ones include the very top of the website, under the logo, and in the footer.
When you change themes, if the locations aren’t the same, you’ll need to make a quick update for your menus to show up. Head over to Appearance > Menus and open the menu you’d like to display. Then, using the checkboxes in the Menu Settings section, assign the menu to show up where you’d like it to.
Before you get too far with installing your new theme, it’s worthwhile to scan through the provided installation instructions to see if any plugins are required.
For example, a lot of our Coded Creative themes have a step that makes it super easy for you to set your theme up like our demos, but it requires plugins such as Instagram Feed and Simple Social Icons to already be installed.
To avoid getting stuck or having to go back and redo a few steps, install required plugins as one of the first things you do.
After your installation is complete, it’s also good practice to go through your plugins and delete any that you no longer need with your new theme.
Update widget areas
Next come widget areas. In general, widget areas are super handy because they allow you to put all different types of things in various areas of your website. But when changing themes, they can cause a little bit of confusion.
When changing themes, the widgets you currently have won’t know the new locations you want them to go. So for example, if you had widgets in your footer on your past theme, they might end up in your sidebar when you update to the new one.
Luckily this is a nice and simple fix as long as you expect it to happen. After updating your theme, head over to Appearance > Widgets and drag your widget areas to their new locations.
Now for the handy Customizer. As the lead developer here at Coded Creative, the Customizer is one of my very favorite tools in WordPress, making it super easy for our customers to change things like fonts, colors, header images, and more. But again, if you don’t expect needing to make these types of changes when you switch themes, it can definitely throw you off a bit.
To make things a little easier on yourself, scan through the installation doc provided with your theme (assuming the creators have one for you) and see what kinds of settings are available with the theme. That way, you’ll know exactly what to look for once the update is complete and make decisions more quickly.
Also remember, that your logo will likely need to be updated, even if you set it in the exact same place it was set before (usually Appearance > Header).
Are you ready for a new theme?
Now that you know a little more about what to expect, you can get your new theme up and running, stress-free.
If you’re still on the hunt for a new theme, check out our free 3-day series all about choosing the perfect theme for you and your blog or business!