A website’s theme is the overall structure that requires constant updates like plugins to remain in the best version possible. Themes updates can grant many enhancements to your site’s overall improvement.
With updating themes, your site can avoid many problems. Moreover, websites become unstable when you keep older versions of a theme. This might result in an overall crash or problematic situation in the future.
So, theme updates are as crucial as plugin updates, which require similar attention and management. In this guide, we will talk about how to update WordPress theme.
How to Update WordPress Theme Manually and Via FTP
Method #1 How to Manually Update Your WordPress Theme?
The manual process for updating themes is easy and takes minimal time to finish.
Step 1: Access “Appearance” in your WordPress dashboard
In the Appearance menu, you will see Themes. You’ll see a notice below if any themes need to be updated. Click on the Update Now link to initiate the process.
Step 2: Verify the update
After updating, visit several pages on your site to confirm that everything looks and works as it should. Be sure to check any custom functionalities to ensure they are still intact.
Step 3: Re-apply any previous customizations
If you had any custom code snippets or other changes, now is the time to re-apply them. Always test thoroughly after making these changes.
Method #2 How to Update Your WordPress Via FTP?
Using FTP (File Transfer Protocol) to update a theme is tricky and requires help from FTP software.
Step 1: First download the updated theme
Download the updated version of the theme from the developer’s website or the marketplace where you purchased it. This will typically be a .zip file you’ll need to extract on your computer, resulting in a folder containing the theme’s files.
Step 2: Access your website via FTP
Use FTP software like FileZilla to connect to your web server. You’ll need your FTP credentials—hostname, username, and password—to do this.
Step 3: Locate the theme folder
Navigate to your web server’s wp-content/themes directory, where WordPress stores all theme files. You’ll see a folder named after the theme you want to update.
Step 4: Replace the old theme files with the new ones
In this step, you have 2 options available,
- Option 1: Delete the existing theme folder on your server. Then, upload the new theme folder that you’ve downloaded and extracted.
- Option 2: Upload the new theme folder while keeping the old one. Most FTP clients will prompt you to overwrite existing files. Choose to overwrite so that the new files replace the old ones.
Step 5: Re-apply any previous customizations
Just like the manual update method, If you had made any custom code changes in your old theme, re-apply those changes to the new version.
Why Keeping Your WordPress Theme Updated is Essential for Your Website?
Your WordPress website requires continued improvement to attract prospects and become a more reliable source of information. Theme updates can help you get consistent upgrades.
i) Enhance security measures
Regular updates to your WordPress theme provide essential security patches that help safeguard against vulnerabilities. Cybercriminals can exploit outdated themes, posing significant risks to your website, business, and users’ data.
ii) Leverage new features
Theme updates frequently introduce new features and functionalities that enhance user experience and offer more robust capabilities for website management. Keeping your theme updated ensures you leverage the latest tools and features available.
iii) Bug fixes and improvements
Every software comes with its set of bugs and issues. An updated theme is likely to be more stable and offer a smoother experience for visitors. Constantly experiencing bugs can turn off visitors and negatively impact your brand reputation.
iv) Optimize performance
Speed is crucial for retaining user attention and improving search engine rankings. Updates often include optimizations for faster load times, better mobile responsiveness, and more efficient use of resources, providing an overall better user experience.
v) Maintain compatibility
WordPress and the myriad plugins you might be using are constantly updated. A regularly updated theme ensures seamless compatibility with the latest versions of WordPress and plugins, avoiding potential conflicts and website breakdowns.
vi) Aesthetic updates
Design trends change rapidly. An updated theme allows you to maintain a modern and engaging appearance. Outdated designs can make your site appear untrustworthy or irrelevant, turning off potential customers or clients.
vii) Improved SEO features
Search engines frequently update their algorithms. Themes that are updated regularly adapt to these changes with improved SEO capabilities. These updates can include better schema markup, improved meta tags, or more efficient SEO-friendly code structures.
viii) Ensure regulatory compliance
Legal requirements, such as accessibility standards and data protection regulations, constantly evolve. Updated themes usually include features that help your website stay compliant, minimizing the risk of legal issues and potential fines.
ix) Boost user trust
An up-to-date, sleek, and error-free website can strongly indicate credibility and professionalism. This instills user confidence and trust, resulting in higher conversion rates, improved user engagement, and a stronger brand image.
x) Streamlined maintenance
Updated themes often feature cleaner code and architecture, making your life easier regarding site maintenance. In addition, theme updates frequently include enhanced documentation and support, facilitating easier troubleshooting and problem-solving.
What is the Best Time to Run a Theme Update on Your Website?
Updating your theme is not merely a click-and-done affair; it’s a well-considered process that can significantly affect your site’s performance, user experience, and revenue streams. It’s crucial to update your WordPress theme in perfect time, requiring precision, caution, and strategic planning.
Consider executing the update during off-peak hours when user traffic is minimal, such as late nights or early mornings on weekdays. Next, ensure you’ve thoroughly vetted the update in a staging environment to identify potential bugs or compatibility issues.
Always perform a comprehensive backup of your site data before the update as an essential safety net. If the update is security-sensitive, expedite the process, overriding other considerations. Before launching major content updates or marketing campaigns, ensure your theme is up-to-date.
Finally, align your update schedule with the availability of your technical support team for immediate troubleshooting should issues arise. In summary, perfect timing minimizes disruptions while maximizing performance and security benefits.
What Preparations Should You Take Before Starting a Theme Update?
Unlike plugin updates, a theme update will be a big step towards the future improvement of your site. So, it is a must that you take the necessary precautions before beginning the update.
1. Conduct a comprehensive website backup
Ensure you have a complete website backup before hitting the ‘Update’ button. This means everything—database, themes, plugins, and content. For example, you can use plugins like UpdraftPlus to automate this process.
2. Verify compatibility with WordPress version and plugins
Check if the new theme is compatible with your current WordPress and plugins. Use the WordPress site health tool to identify any issues like outdated plugins that could conflict with your new theme.
3. Catalog custom code and modifications
List down all the custom codes and modifications you’ve implemented. Tools like Git can be a lifesaver here. This ensures you can re-apply these changes efficiently after the theme update.
4. Review developer’s update notes and changelogs
Reading the developer’s update notes and changelogs can be a goldmine of information. They can indicate if the new update will affect your website’s functionalities or introduce new ones.
5. Stage a test environment
Before going live, create a test environment that mimics your actual website. Use it to stage the new theme and test all functionalities. For example, WP Staging is an excellent tool for this.
6. Analyze website performance benchmarks
Review your website’s performance metrics before the update. Use tools like Google Analytics to gauge metrics like load time and user engagement so you have baseline data to compare post-update.
7. Audit SEO settings and structure
Analyze your current SEO settings. Check elements like meta descriptions, sitemaps, and robots.txt to ensure they won’t be disrupted during the update. A tool like Yoast SEO can provide valuable insights here.
8. Compile a rollback plan
A rollback plan is your safety net. Document the steps, down to the SQL queries and code snippets, that you’d need to revert your website to its pre-update glory.
9. Update supporting plugins
Before you roll out the new theme, update all supporting plugins to ensure compatibility. Tools like WP Plugin Manager can help streamline this process.
10. Notify other owners and schedule downtime if necessary
Lastly, inform your team, clients, or users about the planned update. If rest is expected, schedule it during off-peak hours to minimize inconvenience.
Should I update WordPress before updating plugins?
Update the core WordPress installation should precede any plugin updates. This approach ensures that your site’s foundation is stable and up-to-date, minimizing compatibility issues. It’s like ensuring your pet’s clean environment before introducing new toys or accessories.
Does updating WordPress themes affect my site?
Indeed, updating your WordPress theme can have a myriad of effects, both positive and negative. It can improve site performance, fix bugs, and add features. However, it may also lead to compatibility issues or changes in layout. Think of it as adjusting your pet’s diet—beneficial, but requiring careful monitoring.
Can WordPress themes affect SEO?
Your chosen theme plays a significant role in your website’s SEO performance. A well-optimized theme can improve site speed, mobile responsiveness, and code structure—all key SEO factors. It’s like choosing the right grooming routine for your pet to ensure they look and feel their best.
Switching your WordPress theme won’t delete your posts, pages, or media but can alter how they’re displayed. Customizations and settings specific to your old theme will not carry over. Think of it as moving your pet to a new enclosure—you keep the pet but lose the particular layout.
What changes happen when I update WordPress?
Updating WordPress usually introduces new features, security patches, and performance enhancements. However, it may also cause incompatibility issues with themes or plugins. It’s akin to upgrading your pet’s environment—better amenities and potential for temporary discomfort during the transition.
Keep Your Website Secured by Updating Your WordPress Theme
Remember, updating a theme is not just a cosmetic makeover but a strategic move that impacts your site’s functionality and user experience. From pre-update preparations like conducting backups and compatibility checks to selecting the optimal time for execution, each step is pivotal.
Also, updating themes are for more than just showcasing. Nowadays, security has become one of the most critical objectives for every website. Most theme updates come with many security patches, which can positively affect your website security and enhance it further.
A well-executed theme update can turbocharge your website’s performance, enhance its aesthetic appeal, and patch any security vulnerabilities.
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Wishing you all the best!