Can I change WordPress themes without losing content? Yes, WordPress makes it easy to change your theme. WordPress allows you to install a theme and preview it live without activating it so that you can see what your blog will look like before you activate the new theme. You can customize the theme in preview too. When you find a theme you like and activate it. Now all your content appears in the new theme. You won’t lose any content.
Let’s look at how we can install a theme and do a live preview.
- Before you start
- How to change your WordPress theme
- Adding a new WordPress theme
- Using the theme feature filter
- Choosing a WordPress theme
- Theme Details & Preview
- Installing a WordPress theme
- How to live preview a theme before changing
- Activate and publish your new theme
- Deleting unwanted WordPress themes
- YouTube video tutorials
- Premium WordPress themes
- Frequently asked questions
Before you start
Before you make any major changes to your site you should always back up your site first. That way if anything goes wrong you just reset your site from your backup. I have a step by step guide on how to back up your site for free.
In one year of blogging, I have had to reset one of my sites once. If I hadn’t had a backup. All my hard work would have been lost.
How to change your WordPress theme
WordPress has an amazing amount of good free themes for you to choose from. They can be found in your WordPress dashboard.
Let’s go my WordPress dashboard to see how to change my theme.
Once you have signed in to your WordPress admin for the site you wish to change the theme for.
You need to go to the menu on the left-hand side and look for ‘appearances’.
Just hover your mouse over the word ‘appearances’ and a menu will appear like this.
The option you need to select is ‘Themes’. The first option on this list. Click on ‘Themes’ and then you get a page like this.
I have my current theme and also the default WordPress theme that comes with every new install.
I would suggest that you only keep the theme that you intend to use and the default theme. Anything else,
Later in my post, I show you how to delete unwanted themes.
Adding a new WordPress theme
Before you can change your theme you need to add a theme to this part of your WordPress admin.
To do that you can click on the big plus sign towards the right. Or, you can click on the ‘Add New’ button near the top of the screen just to the right of the word themes.
I will click on the big plus sign. Now my screen looks like this.
The default screen has several themes for you. If you have a theme already installed then you will see a green tick above the theme.
If you look at the first theme in the top left corner. You can see a green tick and the word ‘installed’. This theme I already have and do not have to install it again.
Using the theme feature filter
If you have a certain niche for your blog then I would suggest using the ‘feature filter’ option or type a keyword into the ‘search theme’ box.
I will show you the ‘feature filter’ so you get an idea of how you can scale down the number of themes for you to browse through.
Once you click on the ‘feature filter’ option. You get this drop-down menu.
You have three areas that you can specify to decrease the number of themes you will have to choose from. Subject, features, and layout.
I will select ‘blog’ from the subject section. ‘Accessibility ready’ from the features section, and ‘right sidebar’ from the layout section.
Accessibility ready means that the theme is accessible for all users. This is a very important feature because people use many different devices to access the internet. If you choose a theme that is not accessible for all users then you will have some visitors having a poor user experience.
Not good for you. Google does not like sending people to websites that give poor user experiences.
Once you have made your selections you then click ‘apply filters’. You can see I have three filters to apply to my search.
Choosing a WordPress theme
The more filters you select the fewer themes you will get to browse through. This is a good thing because it can be really difficult to settle on a theme when you first start. The fewer choices you have the easier it is.
I was guilty of spending too much time choosing a theme to then change it after a couple of weeks when I first started blogging.
It isn’t that important. Your visitors are coming to see your blog posts not how pretty your blog looks.
Look for a theme that highlights the important things for your blog subject. Don’t have too many fancy functions they will slow your site. This is another thing that Google does not like, slow loading sites.
Now I have clicked on ‘apply filters’. Let’s see what I get.
Now I have a nice selection of free themes I use for my blog.
When you see a theme you like and want to know more about, then move your mouse over that theme and you will see an option for viewing details. Like this.
I hovered my mouse over the second theme from the top left. You can see a popup with ‘Details & Preview’. You can also see under the theme options to ‘install’ or ‘preview’.
Theme details & preview
If I click on ‘Details & Preview’ or ‘Preview’. I will get to see more information about this theme. Viewing this information does not mean that your current theme will change. You are just browsing.
This is the information I get after I click for more information about the second theme.
You can see a brief description of the theme on the left with a view of how this theme looks on the right.
If you decide that you don’t like this view then just click the cross on the top left. Clicking on that cross will take you back to your original list of selected themes.
If you decide that you do like this theme. Then click on the blue install button just to the right of the cross to close this theme.
When you click to install. This just means that this theme will be on your WordPress admin in your theme section. Installing does not mean that you will change your theme.
Installing a WordPress theme
You can install as many or as few themes as you like. I would suggest though that when you do decide on a theme that you will use for your blog. That you delete the unused themes from your WordPress admin. Unused themes take up space on your hosting.
I will show you how to delete unwanted themes later in this post.
I will click install on the theme that I selected earlier. After you click install after a few seconds the same button will change to ‘activate’. Like this.
I would strongly recommend that you don’t click on ‘activate’. If you do then you will change your current theme to this one. To get back to the previous screen without activating this theme. Just click on the cross above the name of the theme on the left.
I will click on this cross to get back. Now my screen looks like this.
Now that I have installed a new theme. You can see that theme has a green stripe running along the top to show me that I have installed this theme.
Go through your theme list and install the themes that you like. When I started I used to install 6 or 7 each time so that I could test them out.
How to live preview a WordPress theme before changing
Once I have installed a few themes then it is time to see what my site would look like with the new themes.
When I do this I go to my themes in WordPress. So from the screen above I find ‘themes’ on the menu on the left and click.
Then I go to this screen.
From this screen, you can see my current active theme on the left, the WordPress default theme, and then the theme I just installed on the right.
To see how the new theme will look with my content. I just hover my mouse over the theme and then I will see options appear. Like this.
To see a live preview of the new theme without activating it, I just click on ‘live preview’.
Now my screen looks like this.
On the left, you have options to customize this theme without activating it. If you try some customizations and decide that you don’t like the look. Then you click on the cross in the top left to go back to the WordPress admin.
Activate and publish
If you decide that you do like this theme and want this theme for your blog then you click on the blue ‘Activate and Publish’ link that is to the right of the cross. Above the customization options.
Once you click this link then your theme WILL change.
I had many occasions when I activated a theme and the after a couple of days decided that I didn’t like it after all.
If this happens to you, don’t worry. You can just go back to ‘themes’ in your WordPress admin and activate your previous them. Your blog will look exactly as you had it last time you used that theme.
Deleting unwanted themes
If you are like me and have live previewed a handful of themes but don’t want some of them now. Then it is time to delete them.
To delete your unwanted themes you need to go to themes in your WordPress admin. To get there you hover your mouse over the word ‘Appearance’ in the menu on the left and click on ‘themes’ in the popup menu.
You will come to this screen.
I am going to delete the ‘Miniva’ theme. To start I hover my mouse over the theme I want to delete. Then I get this.
Now the option ‘Theme Details’ appears. I now click on that link.
On the bottom left you can see the word ‘delete’ in red. You just click on that you will get a confirmation pop-up box. Once you confirm, the theme will be deleted.
Here is a YouTube video from WPCrafter. He gives an overview of how to add and remove themes on your WordPress website.
How about premium themes?
I have thought about getting a premium theme but I was always put off by the price and having to learn how to use all the different functions. I like easy and straight forward.
With a premium theme, you have full control over how your site looks. With free themes, you have limited control on how your site looks.
There are a couple of premium themes that have got some very good reviews, the Divi and X-theme for example.
If I get to the point where I am getting a lot more visitors than I am now then it would be something that I would do. I would buy a premium theme.
When I look for premium themes I go to Envato.com. They have an excellent selection of themes. I like to check out their discount page.
They have a list of premium themes temporarily discounted. You can find this page at discounted WordPress premium themes. This link is an affiliate link which means I get a commission should you buy something at no extra cost to you.
When you first start using WordPress it looks and feels complicated. There seem to be so many stages to get to the things you need.
WordPress isn’t that hard at all. Once you have done something a couple of times. It is just about finding your way around in the beginning.
Changing themes is quite straight forward. Follow my step by step guide the first few times that you change your theme and before you know it you will not need a guide.
There are so many free themes available on WordPress that you should not have any problems finding something you like.
I would recommend staying away from themes with too many functions because they tend to slow loading time. Google does not like slow-loading sites.
Many websites sell WordPress themes. If you are starting, I would recommend sticking with a free theme until you get a good number of visitors to your site.
Paid WordPress themes can be quite expensive and some of them have so many features and extras. It will take a while to get used to how to customize everything.
If you do buy a paid theme then you will need to upload your theme to your WordPress admin. To learn how to upload a theme tooWordPress, check out my ‘How to manually install a WordPress theme‘ post.
Frequently asked questions
How do I update my WordPress theme?
All the free themes in WordPress have automatic updates. When there is an update for your theme you will see a notification in your dashboard.
Once you click to go to the update page of your admin you will see a list of themes and plugins that require an update. You select the ones you wish to update and click update.
The update process takes just a few seconds.
If I update my WordPress theme, will I lose everything?
If you have made changes to the code of the theme then those changes will be deleted when your theme updates. But if you are just customizing your theme then you will not lose any content.
Customizing your theme through your WordPress admin will not result in you losing anything.
I have updated my themes constantly over the last year and have never had a problem. The update process is very smooth and quick.
Once you update your theme everything will be as you left it.
Saying that it is always wise to run frequent backups for your site. Should an update go wrong then you just recover your site from the backup.
I will do a post soon on how I backup my sites.
Where can I get free WordPress themes?
Free WordPress themes can be accessed from your WordPress blog admin. Just go to ‘Appearance’ on the menu on the left and click on themes.
Follow my step by step guide above to find out how you can change your current WordPress theme.
Will changing my WordPress theme affect S.E.O?
Changing your theme will not affect your S.E.O. Google is interested in your content not how your content is presented.
As long as you have great informative content it will not matter what theme you use.
Choose a theme that loads fast. Google doesn’t like slow-loading blogs because they give a poor user experience.
Can I switch WordPress themes?
Yes, you can. You can change your theme as many times as you like. I don’t think you should do that.
I would recommend that you try to find a suitable theme for your blog in one go.
Looking for themes can be a huge distraction from other more important tasks like writing content.
It is your content that will bring visitors to your blog not pretty headers or sliders.
Should I delete unused WordPress themes?
I always delete unused WordPress themes. I don’t think it makes sense having themes or plugins in your WordPress admin. They take up precious space on your hosting server.
If you are not sure how to delete unused themes. Please read my blog above, I have a step by step guide on how to delete them.
Are WordPress themes free?
The WordPress themes that can be found from ‘appearances’ in your WordPress admin are all free.
To find out how to install and activate them. Follow my step by step guide above.
How do I edit a WordPress theme?
If you want to customize your theme, you can do that through your WordPress admin. Follow my step by step guide above to find out how to get to the customization options.
If you want to change the look of your theme then you will need to add additional CSS code. You can do this in from the customization menu. Please note that any CSS code added will be deleted next time you update your theme.
Did you find my step by step guide to change WordPress themes helpful?
How often do you change your theme?
Do you use free themes or paid themes?
What themes do you recommend?
I look forward to reading your comments.