Getting ready to switch themes on your WordPress website is an exciting time. It’s funny how motivating something like getting a new look for your website can be! However, if you don’t take time to prepare before making the switch, you might find that you either don’t end up with the perfect theme or find the process to be a bit more stressful than it has to be.
A lot of newer WordPress users find that there are more steps to making a theme switch than they expected. It would be great if we could install a new theme and have everything looking perfect within just a couple minutes, but that’s usually not the way it works.
In today’s post, we’ll go over 7 steps to take to prepare for a new WordPress theme that will leave you with a better theme choice and smoother transition process. Be sure to stay tuned until the end of the post for a bonus download including several extra ways to get your audience excited and make the process go even more smoothly!
Step 1: Consider your goals
It might sound cliche, but the most important thing to think about when preparing to change WordPress themes is the goals you have for your blog or business. If you’re focused on increasing email opt-ins, but the theme you choose is made designed for affiliate marketing, the theme won’t do you nearly as much good as another one would.
Start by listing the goals you have for your blog or website. Think about one big goal and three smaller ones. For example:
- Growing a full time income
- Email list growth
- Building audience trust
- Increasing page views
This quick exercise will give you a better idea of what to look for when choosing a new theme. For more help, but sure to check out our mini-series on choosing the perfect WordPress theme for you!
2. Find reliable theme shops
This next step can be overwhelming at first. Now it’s time to find a few theme shops with reliable themes and good support.
There are hundreds of places to buy themes online or even find free ones. We’ll start off by warning you to be very careful with the free options, as they’re usually not made with as much care and aren’t as flexible as paid themes. We also recommend looking for shops who build their themes on the Genesis framework. We explained why we love Genesis and how to make the most of it over in this post.
As far as support, make sure the theme shop you purchase from offers support for their themes, whether it’s free or paid, or that they have detailed installation guides.
Here at Coded Creative, each one of our themes comes with a step-by-step installation manual to make sure you don’t have to worry about missing a step when setting up one of our themes!
3. Purchase your theme
Once you find some reliable shops with a variety of themes you’re interested in, narrow them down and make your pick! Remember to stick to the goals you outlined in step 1 and make sure those goals will be supported in whichever theme you choose.
Also keep in mind that this is a great (and tax-deductible) investment for your blog or business. So even if you choose a premium theme with a higher price-tag, you can be confident that it will pay off in the end.
4. Plan your new page layouts
After you’ve purchased your theme, take some time to plan out how your new page layouts will look. This will make things so much less stressful when you’re trying to make the actual switch. Instead of having to come up with your new layouts on the fly while you’re worried about something going wrong, you can have it all planned out ahead of time.
A good example of a page you’ll want to plan out before making the switch is your homepage. Take our Olivia theme for example. With this theme, it would make things much simpler if you knew the followings before making the switch:
- What header image you’ll use
- What text you want in the header and what page the button will link to
- What text you’ll include under the header
- What icons, text, and links you’ll use for the three-column section
- If you want to include recent posts in the widget section just above the footer or something else
- What opt-in offer you’ll include above the footer
- What you’ll want included in each of the 3 footer sections
I’m sure you can start to imagine how difficult that could be to think up on the fly when you’re feeling the pressure of having a Coming Soon page up on your website (we’ll get to that shortly). Planning ahead of time will make the process go a whole lot more smoothly.
5. Determine whether you want to do the installation or have the theme creators take care of it
Depending on where your theme was purchased, the theme creators may offer a service to take care of the installation for you. That way you can be sure that everything is done correctly and that there is no stress on your end.
Prices range on these types of services. Here at Coded Creative they range from $50 to $197. If you’re looking for ways to make the process nice and simple, having the theme creators take care of the installation can be a big help.
6. Backup your site
Regardless of who is doing the theme installation, once the day of the switch comes start by taking a full backup of your website. That way, if something does go wrong and switching everything back isn’t easy, you have your backup as the last resort.
7. Put up a Coming Soon page
The last thing you’ll want to do before installing your new theme is to put up a simple Coming Soon page. Since the process likely won’t take more than 30-minutes to an hour you don’t have to get too fancy here, but you may choose to include your logo, a brief message about what’s going on and when you’ll be back, and an email opt-in form.
We recommend checking out the Coming Soon Page & Maintenance Mode plugin.
You’re all set!
After you’ve followed the above steps, you’re ready to make the switch! We’re confident you’ll find that the whole process runs more smoothly and you’re happier with the final result after the planning and prep work you’ve already done. No one likes extra surprises in stressful situations and you’ve already done a lot to avoid them with these steps!
If you want 5 extra steps to helping you choose the right theme, make the process even more simple, and get your audience excited, download our guide with the 12 steps you can take to prepare for a new WordPress theme.