If you are new to WordPress, make sure to read our introduction to WordPress themes. The in-depth article explains what WordPress themes are and how using a theme can be cost-effective and time-saving for web business owners.
In this tutorial, you will learn how to easily upgrade themes with just a few clicks inside the dashboard.
Updating WordPress Themes – Best Practices
We recommend going through the checklist below before going through the upgrade process.
1. Make A Backup
Backing up your website before making any changes to your site is vital. If something goes wrong, you can always restore.
If you don’t want to perform manual backups, there are many plugins you can use. Learn about a WordPress backup plugin that can automate your backup process here:
2. Check The Theme Update Notes
Changes made to the WordPress software can affect the functionality of certain themes. Depending on the theme you have installed, there may be a changelog file accompanying an update listing new features, improvements, security fixes or important changes in the new version.
If the theme changes seem irrelevant or unimportant, you can skip the update. Otherwise, it’s best to upgrade.
3. Test Your 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 any bugs and check if all plugins are working fine with the new theme before applying and activating it on a live site.
If you manage your own website, you can install a test WordPress site on a subdomain or a separate domain name with the same configuration settings (e.g. plugins) and test new theme versions on your test site before applying it to your live website.
4. Search Online
Before updating your theme, it’s a good idea to do a quick 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 offer this for paid WordPress themes, and even for some free plugins).
5. Is Your Theme Heavily Customized? Use A Child Theme
If you have made extensive changes to your existing WordPress theme files, updating 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 modifications 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 just visit the official WordPress child theme page here:
As you will see below, the actual process of updating a WordPress theme is fairly simple. What can feel slightly bothersome is the precautionary work involved prior to upgrading.
Many 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 recommended “best practice” methods to help you avoid problems. Ultimately, it is solely the website owner’s responsibility to protect their digital properties.
Upgrading Themes In WordPress – Step-By-Step Tutorial
Upgrading your theme in your dashboard is easy.
Log into your WordPress administration area …
Depending on which theme(s) you have installed on your website, you may receive an occasional notification in your WordPress Dashboard that your theme(s) need updating …
Updating a WordPress theme in your WP dashboard is a very simple process. You can update your themes using the “Themes” section, or the “Updates” page.
Updating WordPress Themes From The “Themes” Page
You can see which themes require updating by going to your Themes area.
Select Appearance > Themes from your WP admin menu …
This opens up the “Themes” page …
Themes that need updating display an “Update Available” message over the theme’s 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 the theme in seconds …
Your theme is now updated …
Repeat the above to update all of your outdated themes, or use the method below to update multiple themes.
Updating WordPress Themes From The “Updates” Area
Update your WordPress themes via the “Updates” page 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 bulk update process …
WordPress automatically updates all of your selected themes …
Congratulations! Now you know how to upgrade your themes in the WP dashboard.
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