If you are new to WordPress, make sure to read our overview of WordPress themes. It explains what themes are and how using themes can be cost-effective and time-saving for small business website owners.
In this step-by-step tutorial, you will learn how to easily upgrade themes to the latest version inside the admin area.
- Updating A WordPress Theme – Best Practices
- 1. Back Up Your Site Fully
- 2. Check The Theme Update Notes
- 3. Test The Theme
- 4. Search Online
- 5. Is Your Theme Heavily Customized? Use A Child Theme
- How To Update Themes In WordPress – Step-By-Step Tutorial
Updating A WordPress Theme – Best Practices
Before updating any WordPress themes, we recommend going through the handy checklist below.
1. Back Up Your Site Fully
Backing up your site before making any updates to your site is essential. If something goes wrong, you can always restore your website to its former state.
If you don’t want to perform manual backups, there are a number of WordPress plugins you can use. You can read 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 are using, there may be some release notes accompanying an update listing any new features, improvements, security fixes or important information pertaining to the new version.
If the 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 an installed theme, track any bugs and check to see if all plugins are working fine with the new theme before applying it to a live site.
If you manage your own website, you can set up a test WordPress site on a subdomain or a separate domain name using the same plugins and configuration settings and play with the new theme versions on your test site before applying it to your main site.
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 enter the theme name and version into Google, and search the theme developer’s support forum (many developers offer this for paid themes, and even for some free plugins).
5. Is Your 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”, all customizations are 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 WordPress Codex 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! The bit 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 many upgrade without going through 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 assets.
How To Update Themes In WordPress – Step-By-Step Tutorial
Updating your theme from your dashboard is simple.
Log into your WordPress admin area …
Depending on the theme(s) installed on your site, you may receive an occasional notification in your WordPress Dashboard that new theme versions are available and require updating …
Updating a theme in the dashboard is very simple and easy. You can update your WordPress themes using the “Themes” section, or the “Updates” feature.
Updating Your Themes Via The “Themes” Screen
You can see which themes need to be updated by going to your Themes area.
Choose Appearance > Themes in your WP dashboard menu …
This brings you to the “Themes” page …
WordPress 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” message.
When the theme details window opens up, click on update now …
WordPress automatically updates the theme in seconds …
Your WordPress theme is now up-to-date …
Repeat the above to update all of your outdated themes, or use the method below to bulk upgrade multiple themes.
Updating WordPress Themes From The “Updates” Page
Update your WordPress themes from the “Updates” screen as shown below:
To view all themes installed on your website that require updating, click on Dashboard > Updates …
This brings 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 update process …
WordPress automatically updates all of your selected themes …
Congratulations! Now you know how to update your themes from the WP dashboard.
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