WordPress is one of the best-known sites out there for blogging, eCommerce, and online portfolios.
It is extremely versatile and has hundreds of free templates to choose from to help you get your ideal website up and running quickly!
Many WordPress users tend to change up their themes once in a while to get a fresh look at their content – this means a lot of backing up files and formatting changes.
Does your content stay when you change your WordPress theme?
Your content is not lost when you update your theme in WordPress. However, formatting and overall display changes to your theme will move information around or disrupt the way that that content is presented.
In order to prevent this, consider previewing and editing any and all themes before updating them to your site.
That way, you are prepared when it is time to go live!
How Can I Change my Theme Without Losing Content?
Getting a new theme for your site will help you dust off some old ideas and pave the way for a new year or even five-year period for your website.
However, many people worry that changing their theme will remove or negatively affect content from their site.
You will be pleased to know that changing your theme will not remove content from your site, and your content will remain protected.
However, there are a few things that can occur when you change the theme of your WordPress site:
Formatting & Rearranging
Changing the theme of your site can have the unexpected consequence of disrupting or messing up the careful formatting and organization of your content.
New themes will consider different information a priority, and can even sometimes hide information away under different dropdown menus or subcategories.
For example, if you host a recipe blog WordPress site, some of your recipe pages could be moved or rearranged by a new theme. Where they were once closer to the front page, you may have to dig a little deeper into the categories of your site to find those recipes or sub-pages once more.
If this is you, great! If not, consider giving each new theme option a critical eye to make sure that it still fits the lifestyle of your blog or website.
Otherwise, you may have to spend a tedious amount of time rearranging information on your new theme.
Sticking to Your “Brand”
If you’re going to change your theme without removing content, you want to make sure that your “brand” is still recognizable to your readers.
If you are a photographer, for example, and host your work on your WordPress site, you want to make sure that your new theme supports all those images, as well as maintains the original style of your old site.
Branding yourself can take years, and maintaining that brand is important – so make sure your new theme matches your business and supports your content!
Can I Safely Change my Theme on a Live WordPress Site?
Changing your WordPress theme before going live is great for getting an idea of how your site will look before your readers can see it.
However, if your site is already live and you’re looking to change the theme, this can make things a little more tricky.
WordPress allows you to preview a theme before fully changing it – even if your site is live. You can safely change your WordPress theme and maintain your content for a live site.
However, if you do have a live site with many readers who traffic it each day, updating the format of your WordPress theme may cause the site to slow down – or even mess up the formatting of your site while you are making changes.
Make sure that the new theme is fully approved and something you would like it to look like moving forward, and try not to change it too much in one day.
Instead, consider really diving into those “previews” before “activating” the final decision for your theme, or else you could confuse your readers and slow down their experience.
What Else Can I Lose When Changing The WordPress Theme?
Changing your theme may not lose your content, but it can affect how your site looks and operates:
Slow Loading Time
If you change your theme, make sure to test the loading time of your site once all is said and done. Your new theme has the potential to slow down your site, and therefore the user experience.
This can happen if the theme prioritizes images over text, or if your advertisements are pulled more to the forefront than off to the side.
This means that even though your site looks nicer, your readers will not enjoy returning to your site again and again if the load time is slow.
Sidebars & Widgets
Sidebars are used to add social links, advertisements, contact forms, and subscription forms to your WordPress.
When you update your theme to your site, you want to make sure that that theme is compatible with the widgets and sidebar content that you already have. If it isn’t, you may have to rearrange or rework all those pages and content markers.
This can be a tedious task, and many users prefer not to have to rework their whole site display after updating their theme.
Always, always, always preview your site theme before activating it or sending it to “live.” This will save you some headaches in the long run.
Live Readers & Under Construction
As we will discuss later in this article, you can change the WordPress theme while the site is still live.
However, when a site is viewed as “Under Construction” or in the process of a rework, your readers will notice that. This means that you could lose readers that day, and therefore ad revenue that you might have gotten.
Furthermore, if you are trying out many different themes in one day during “live mode,” your users may see many different versions or incomplete versions of your site while you mess with it.
To combat this problem, consider updating or trying out your new theme in “Maintenance Mode” on your WordPress site.
This allows you to preview and experience the new theme without slowing down readers or turning visitors away from a site that may be under construction.
Manual Theme Changes
If you decide to change your theme manually – rather than download and install a premade theme from other users or digital designers – you may have issues translating all your info over from the old theme.
For example, if you are new to coding or remaking your own theme, you could have the potential to lose important information or accidentally put it somewhere that you didn’t mean to.
If you are new to this or to coding, consider getting help or downloading a premade theme. It will help you in the long run!
How Should I Backup My WordPress Site?
Backing up your WordPress data and information is crucial to keeping a professional site maintained for long periods of time.
On Techpenny, we back up our files using WPManage for a few dollars per month. This system automatically synchronizes it with Dropbox. Because of this, we can feel secure in the knowledge that our information will not disappear.
This is useful for informational blogs or those who are constantly posting and creating new content. For casual blogs, consider backing up your information on free sites or by making sure to save each written article before or after posting.
All WordPress sites have the potential for a loss of information – even if it has nothing to do with changing your theme.
This is why we recommend getting a plugin for backing up your site! This will protect yourself from disasters such as hackers, data loss, or server malfunctions.
Here are a few plugins to consider for backing up your WordPress files:
- UpdraftPlus – Free option
- BoldGrid Backup
- BackWPup – Free option
- Duplicator – Free option
- BackUpWordPress – Free option
These all have their own benefits and drawbacks, so make sure to do your research as much as you can before using one!
What’s The Worst That Can Happen When Changing Themes?
The worst thing that can occur when you change your WordPress theme is to disrupt your formatting or to have some of your content or widgets end up someplace else.
While your content is secure, that doesn’t mean you’ll be able to find it again easily. In fact, some content can get accidentally moved to different pages, hidden in folders or in dropdown menus, or disappear and reappear in the most unlikely of places.
Before you decide to change your WordPress theme, make sure you are taking notes on everything you want the display to show. You want to make sure your folders are still in the same spot and hosting the same content.
You also want to make sure that your new theme is ready for your specific widgets that already exist on your site. If you choose a new theme, those widgets may not be compatible or may become distorted in the new theme.
Also, anything that you had compiled in your “Sidebar” may get moved around or overwritten by the new template.
If you take detailed notes before changing your WordPress theme, the transition should be relatively smooth.
Finally, when in doubt, back up your files!