If you are new to WordPress, make sure to read our introduction to WordPress themes. We’ve written a detailed article that explains what WP themes are and how using themes can be cost-effective and time-saving for website owners.
This tutorial will show you how to upgrade your themes inside your dashboard.
Upgrading A WordPress Theme – Best Practices Checklist
We recommend going through the checklist below before attempting the upgrade process, to help minimize any problems during the updating process.
1. Back Up Your Website Fully
Backing up your site before making any changes to your site is essential. Whenever something doesn’t go as planned, you can always restore everything to its previous state.
If you don’t want to perform manual backups, there are a number of plugins you can use. Learn about a WordPress backup plugin that can automate your backup process here:
2. Check The Changelog
When WordPress upgrades its software to a new version, this can affect the functionality of certain themes. Depending on the theme you are using, there may be some release notes accompanying an update which provides an overview of new features, improvements, security fixes or important information pertaining to the new theme version.
If the changes seem irrelevant or unimportant, you can skip the update. Otherwise, you should update.
3. Test The Theme
If you can, it’s a good idea to check the theme before installing it on your site.
Typically, web service providers will set up a test site where they can test the latest version of a theme, track bugs and check to see if all plugins are working fine with the new theme before applying and activating it on a live site.
If you’re managing your own website, you can install a test WordPress site on a subdomain or a separate domain name using the same configuration settings (e.g. plugins) and test new theme versions on your test site before applying it to your main website.
4. Search Online
Before updating your theme, it’s a good idea to search online and see if anyone has reported any serious problems with the new theme version.
You can enter the theme name and version into Google, and search the theme developer’s support forum (many developers provide forums for premium WordPress themes, and even for some free plugins).
5. Is Your Theme Customized? Use A Child Theme
If you have made extensive customizations to your existing WordPress theme files, upgrading your theme could result in your custom modifications being overwritten. To prevent losing your theme modifications, therefore, we recommend you learn how to create “child themes”.
A WordPress child theme is a theme that inherits the functionality of another theme, called the parent theme, and allows you to modify, or add to, the functionality of the parent theme. When you update the “parent theme”, your customizations get preserved through the “child theme.”
If you plan to customize your theme files, then we recommend becoming familiar with using child themes, especially if you plan to use a theme that gets regularly updated. You can learn more about child themes by searching online, or visit the official WordPress child theme page here:
As you will see below, the actual process of updating a WordPress theme is not complicated at all … a few simple clicks and you’re done! What can feel slightly bothersome is the preparation involved prior to upgrading.
Many people don’t upgrade their WordPress themes regularly, while many upgrade without going through some or all of the steps listed in the section above. As mentioned earlier, the above are “best practice” methods to help you avoid problems. Ultimately, it is the website owner’s responsibility to protect their digital properties.
How To Update Your Theme – Tutorial
Upgrading your theme in the WP dashboard is easy.
Log into your WordPress admin area …
Depending on which theme(s) you have installed on your website, you may receive occasional alerts in your dashboard that new theme versions are available and require updating …
Updating WordPress themes from your WP dashboard is quite a simple process. You can update your theme from the “Themes” section, or the “Updates” area.
Updating WordPress Themes From The “Themes” Screen
You can see which themes need to be updated by going to your Themes area.
Choose Appearance > Themes from your WordPress admin menu …
This opens up the “Themes” page …
Themes that need updating display an “Update Available” message over their thumbnail image …
Locate the theme you want to update and click on the “Update Available” notice.
When the theme details window opens up, click on update now …
WordPress will automatically update your theme …
Your theme is now up-to-date …
Repeat the process described above to update all of your remaining themes, or use the method below to update multiple themes.
Updating WordPress Themes Via The “Updates” Section
Update your WordPress themes from the “Updates” screen as shown below:
To view all themes on your website that require updating, click on Dashboard > Updates …
This brings up the Updates screen. Scroll down to the Themes section …
Select all the themes you want to update and click on Update Themes to complete the update process …
WordPress will automatically update all of the selected themes …
Congratulations! Now you know how to upgrade your theme from your dashboard.
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