If you are new to WordPress, make sure to read our overview of WordPress themes. This detailed article explains what themes are and how they can be cost-effective and time-saving for business website owners.
This tutorial will show you how to easily update a theme with just a few clicks inside your admin area.
Upgrading Themes – Best Practices
Before updating any WordPress themes, we recommend going through the handy checklist below to make sure that your upgrades go smoothly.
1. Make A Full Site Backup
Backing up your files and data 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 many WordPress plugins you can use. You can read about a WordPress backup plugin that can automate your backup process here:
2. Check The Changelog
Changes made to the WordPress software can affect the functionality of certain themes. Depending on the theme you have installed, there may be some release notes included with an update listing any new features, improvements, bug fixes or any other changes in the new theme version.
If the changes seem irrelevant or unimportant, you can skip the update. Otherwise, you should update.
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 bugs and check if the new theme version doesn’t conflict with any existing plugins or settings before installing and activating 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 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 do a quick search online to see if anyone has reported any issues 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 offer this for paid WordPress themes, and even for some free plugins).
5. Is Your WordPress Theme Heavily Customized? Use A Child Theme
If you have made extensive customizations to your existing WordPress 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 modifications get preserved through the “child theme.”
If you plan to customize your theme files, then we recommend becoming familiar with the use of child themes, especially if you 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 very simple. The part of the updating process that takes the most time and effort to complete is the preparation involved prior to upgrading.
Some people don’t upgrade their WordPress themes regularly, while others 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, as a website owner, it is solely your responsibility to protect your online properties.
Upgrading WP Theme From Your Dashboard – Tutorial
Upgrading your theme from your admin dashboard is simple.
Log into your WordPress administration area …
Depending on the theme(s) installed on your website, you may receive an occasional alert in your dashboard that your theme(s) need updating …
Updating WordPress themes in your WP dashboard is quite simple and easy. You can update your themes using the “Themes” feature, or the “Updates” page.
Updating WordPress Themes Via The “Themes” Section
You can see which themes need to be updated by going to your Themes page.
Choose Appearance > Themes from your WordPress admin menu …
This opens up the “Themes” page …
WordPress Themes with new versions display an “Update Available” message over the theme’s thumbnail image …
Locate the theme that needs to be updated and click on the “Update Available” message.
When the theme details window opens up, click on update now …
WordPress automatically updates your theme …
Your WordPress theme is now updated …
Repeat the process described above to update all of your remaining themes, or use the method described below to bulk upgrade multiple themes at once.
Updating WordPress Themes Via The “Updates” Area
Update your themes from the “Updates” area as follows:
To view all themes in your site that need updating, click on Dashboard > Updates …
This opens 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 will automatically update all of the selected themes …
Congratulations! Now you know how to update your themes in your dashboard.
"I have used the tutorials to teach all of my clients and it has probably never been so easy for everyone to learn WordPress ... Now I don't need to buy all these very expensive video courses that often don't deliver what they promise." - Stefan Wendt, Internet Marketing Success Group