How To Change a WordPress Theme on a Live Website Tutorial

In my post, I show you how to change a WordPress theme on a live site, step by step.

With the WordPress editor, you can install and activate themes with just a few clicks. There is an option to live preview your site before you make it live. Changing a WordPress theme takes just a few moments.

I have worked on WordPress sites for a few years. I have changed the theme on some of my sites. The process to change a WordPress theme on a live site is as follows.

  1. Backup your site
  2. Install the WordPress theme
  3. Live preview the theme
  4. Customize the theme
  5. Activate the theme

Let’s do that step by step.

Step One – Backup Your Website

Changing your WordPress theme alters how your website looks. As a precaution, I recommend you backup your site before you start.

Should you not like the new look, you can restore your site to the original theme settings from your backup.

I use the free plugin UpdraftPlus to backup my sites. To learn how to use UpdraftPlus, please check out my ‘How to backup your site.‘ post.

Step Two – Install Your WordPress Theme

There are two ways to install a new theme. The first method is to use a WordPress theme from the WordPress theme library. The second method is to upload a WordPress theme.

How To Install A Theme From The WordPress Library

First, hover your mouse over ‘Appearance’ on the left, then select ‘Themes’.

Install theme

On the next page is a list of themes installed on your site. To install a new WordPress theme, select ‘Add New’.

Add new

Use the menu, feature filter, or search function to find a new theme for your blog.

Search for themes

When you see one you like, move your mouse over the theme. An option to view details and preview appears.


Click ‘Install’ to install this theme to your WordPress admin.


How To Upload A WordPress Theme File

To upload a WordPress theme file, hover your mouse over ‘Appearance’ and select ‘Themes’ from the menu.

Install theme

Next, select ‘Add new’.

Add new

Then, select ‘Upload theme’.

Upload theme

Find the file on your computer and select ‘Open’.


Finally, select ‘Install Now.’

Install now

Step Three – Live Preview Your New Theme

The live preview feature lets you see your website content without activating the theme.

Hover your mouse over the new theme, then select ‘Live Preview’.

Live preview

You can navigate around your website as a visitor would.

Live preview

Step Four – Customise The Theme

You can customize the theme before activating it.

Use the menu on the left to make your changes.

With each edit, the preview window on the right-hand side updates. So you always know how your changes will look once the theme is activated.

Step Five – Activate And Publish

Finally, select ‘Activate and Publish’ to change the theme.

Activate and publish

You have just changed a WordPress theme on a live site.

In ‘Themes’, the top-left space confirms the active theme for your site.

Current theme

Check Your Blog After Changing Themes.

After you activate your new theme, I recommend visiting your site to check everything is okay.

How To Change A WordPress Theme Video Tutorial

Follow my video tutorial on how to change your WordPress theme.

Premium WordPress Themes

There are thousands of free themes available on WordPress. But the customization options are limited. For 100% control, I recommend purchasing a premium theme. (*Paid link) have an excellent selection of premium WordPress themes.


Use the filter on the left to find premium themes on sale.


Now you can change your WordPress theme. I recommend choosing a theme you like early on your blogging journey, so you can concentrate on publishing excellent content.

When I started blogging, I wasted many hours tweaking different themes. Your visitors come to your site for your helpful blog posts. Choose a clean and light theme so that your website loads fast. Your visitors don’t wait around for slow sites.

I use the free Kadence theme for my site. There are hundreds of popular free WordPress themes, but for 100% control of your site’s appearance. You need to buy a premium theme.

Before you return to your blog, would you kindly spare one moment to leave a comment? Did you find my guide helpful? Do you have any questions? I appreciate all feedback. It helps me improve my blog content.

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