Changing WordPress theme is always a huge challenge especially for beginners. A lot of bad things can happen when we change a WordPress theme on a live site. Content loss, broken website, distorted images and missing widgets are just a few challenges you will face when changing a WordPress theme.
All of these will get your head scratching and they will become more complicated if you have limited experience using WordPress.
I've been using WordPress for over 10 years now and I came across a fair share of problems in the past especially when changing a WordPress theme. In this post, you are going to discover how you change WordPress theme without losing content. More importantly, you will be able to see how you can do this under 30 minutes.
How to change WordPress theme without losing content?
No matter what you do, the first step must always be back up your entire site. Most web host in the market today allows you to perform the manual backup in just a few clicks.
If you are using shared hosting and cPanel, click on Files and select Backup.
You can also use the Backup Wizard to backup your entire website before changing WordPress theme.
If you are using premium WordPress hosting like WP Engine, you can start backing up your site by through the WP Engine portal.
The fun fact about using premium WordPress hosting is the fact that you can leverage the power of staging.
Back up wouldn't take long and in most cases, under 10 minutes for a small to medium sized blog. Larger sites may take slightly longer to complete the backup process.
A staging site is an independent clone of your live production site that can be easily created to test plugins, themes, and custom code. You can also copy the staging site back to the live site at any time after making changes. Each WordPress install at WP Engine can have its own staging site.
You can use WP Engine staging area by clicking on WP Engine > Staging from your wp-admin and click on the teal button as seen below.
2. Upload the WordPress theme of your choice
By now, you should have a copy of the WordPress theme on your computer or laptop. To upload the WordPress theme, head over to your WordPress dashboard and click on Appearance and then, Themes. Click on Add New and Upload Theme tab to upload the WordPress theme of your choice.
3. Final check
Once uploaded and activated, you will be able to see new WordPress theme live on your site. I would recommend you to run a quick check on your website using Incognito or another browser to ensure the website is accessible.
BONUS: More tips to change your WordPress theme without losing content
Want to get more out of your WordPress blog? I bet you do. Continue reading below to find more advanced methods in changing WordPress theme without losing the content!
Customizing WordPress themes before they're live
Do you know that you should always customize the WordPress themes before going uploading it? This helps to ensure that your site isn't 'broken' during the transition period. For your information, it could be a little bit of challenge if you are using shared hosting as not all web host provides such feature (at this point in time).
If you are using WP Engine (for example), you can use the staging area to create a clone version of your site and be doing the needed updates there. How to clone a WordPress site using WP Engine's staging tool? Typically, most managed WordPress hosting allows you to use staging area which ensures that you will not lose content after changing the WordPress theme.
Once you are happy with the changes, you can transfer the updated site to your production site using the red button as seen below.
Pretty cool, right?
You can read more about WP Engine staging using this link.
On the side, I want you to know that SiteGround offers similar staging feature with lower features and pricing as well.
Customize option for real-time updates
Do you know that you can use the Customize feature to update the site's content in real-time? I love this feature because it provides me with 'what you see is what you get' (WYSIWYG) option.
Here's how it looks like:
If you have yet to use this feature, I suggest you try it out now!
Understand the layout differences on various devices
Changing WordPress theme without losing the content is one thing. Ensuring that the site looks good in different layouts is another.
How do you check your WordPress site if they look good on various devices?
Forget about the tools out there in the market. All you need is to leverage the Customize feature on your WordPress backend. Take a look at the image below.
Summary - How to change WordPress theme without losing content?
End of the day, there are many ways you can change a WordPress theme without losing the content. Always remember to backup as it is an important security feature!