If you are new to WordPress, make sure to read our introduction to WordPress themes. The comprehensive article explains what WordPress themes are and how using themes can save business owners time and money.
In this step-by-step tutorial, you will learn how to easily upgrade your WP theme inside your dashboard.
Updating Themes – Best Practices Checklist
Before updating your themes, we recommend going through the checklist below to prevent any problems that could affect your site during the upgrade process.
1. Back Up Your Site Fully
Backing up your website before making any updates to your site is vital. Whenever something doesn’t go as planned, you can always restore.
If you don’t want to perform manual backups, there are a number of WordPress plugins you can use. Learn about a WordPress backup plugin that can automate your site backups 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 have installed, there may be a changelog file included with an update which provides an overview of any new features, improvements, security fixes or any other changes in the new theme version.
If the theme changes seem irrelevant or unimportant, you can skip the update. Otherwise, it’s best to upgrade.
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 the theme, track bugs and check to see if the new theme version doesn’t conflict with any existing plugins or settings before installing it on a live site.
If you’re managing your own website, you can set up a test WordPress site on a subdomain or a separate domain with the same plugins and configuration settings and play with the 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 other theme users have reported any issues with the new theme version.
You can type the theme name and version into Google, and search the theme developer’s support forum (many developers provide forums for premium themes, and even for some free plugins).
5. Is Your WordPress Theme Customized? Use A Child Theme
If you have made extensive changes to your existing theme files, upgrading your theme may 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 that parent theme. When you update the “parent theme”, your customizations are 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 precautionary work involved prior to upgrading.
Some people don’t upgrade their WordPress themes regularly, while many upgrade without going through all of the steps listed in the section above. As mentioned earlier, the above are “best practice” methods for ensuring problem-free upgrades. Ultimately, as a website owner, it is your responsibility to protect your digital properties.
Updating WP Themes From Your Admin Dashboard – Tutorial
Upgrading your WordPress theme in the WP dashboard is simple.
Log into your WordPress administration area …
Depending on the theme(s) installed on your site, you may receive an occasional notification in your dashboard that new theme versions are available and require updating …
Updating a theme from the dashboard is quite simple and easy. You can update your themes via the “Themes” screen, or the “Updates” area.
Updating Your Site’s Theme Via The “Themes” Area
You can see which themes require updating by going to your Themes page.
Choose Appearance > Themes in your WordPress admin menu …
This brings you to the “Themes” screen …
WordPress 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” message.
When the theme details window opens up, click on update now …
WordPress will automatically update your theme in seconds …
Your WordPress theme is now updated …
Repeat the process described above to update all of your out-of-date themes, or use the method described below to bulk upgrade multiple themes at once.
Updating Your Site’s Theme Via The “Updates” Section
Update your theme using the “Updates” page as follows:
To view all themes installed in your website that need updating, click on Dashboard > Updates …
This opens up the Updates screen. Scroll down to the Themes section …
Check the box next to all the themes you want to update and click on Update Themes to complete the bulk upgrade process …
WordPress automatically updates all of the selected themes …
Congratulations! Now you know how to update your WP themes in the WP dashboard.
"This is an awesome training series. I have a pretty good understanding of WordPress already, but this is helping me to move somewhere from intermediate to advanced user!" - Kim Lednum