Over the last few years, I’ve done numerous WordPress website redesigns.
In every case so far, I’ve helped clients switch to a new WordPress theme. And when you switch to a new WordPress theme, so many parts of your website can break.
Here is a “WordPress Theme Switch Checklist” you can use to reduce the risk of your WordPress website breaking when doing that.
- Shortcodes that your existing theme provides.
- Make a list of shortcodes that your old theme supports.
- Search for it across your pages, posts and custom post types.
- Remove or replace it with similar functionality.
- This includes everything like Facebook pixel, Google Analytics, Hubspot tracking code etc.
- Usually it might be inserted inside your theme’s option panel.
- Re-insert them after you switch to the new theme
- A better way is to use Google Tag Manager for all your scripts so that there is only one script on your website.
- Pages created with different page builders
- Manually check pages created with page builders (like Elementor, Thrive Architect etc.) to see if they render properly in your new theme.
- Custom CSS or JS from WordPress Customizer panel
- This is an additional place where your developer(s) might have inserted codes.
- This has to be done even if you are simply switching to a Child theme.
- Are you switching from an old theme you bought from ThemeForest?
- Check for revolution sliders embedded across your site.
- If you were using Visual Composer (which I advice you to get rid of), you might have to recreate most of your pages
- WooCommerce generated pages (cart, checkout, thank you etc.)
- Check if your new theme provides the same WooCommerce template overrides.
- Take a backup before switching. If your hosting doesn’t support it, use UpdraftPlus plugin. Its free.
Frequently asked questions about this topic
Also in some cases, you might change WordPress theme on live site. I don’t recommend that. But you might have constraints where setting up a staging is not possible for you. Then this checklist will help you with damage-control only.
The checklist above also helps you change WordPress theme without losing content. Remember that, even if your content disappears it is only temporary. Sometimes content might disappear if you deactivate some plugins. So beware of this. Always have backup and test on staging site before changing theme on a live site.
I really hope that checklist helps you save some headache!
Bookmark this page, or print this page so it comes handy when you switch to a new theme on your WordPress website.