WordPress For Non-Techies: Free WordPress Tutorials – WPCompendium.org

How To Update WordPress Themes

If you are new to WordPress, make sure you read our overview of WordPress themes. We’ve written a comprehensive article that explains what themes are and how using a theme can save online business owners time and money.

This step-by-step tutorial will show you how to easily update a WP theme to its latest version inside the admin area.

Updating Your WordPress Theme – Best Practices Checklist

We recommend going through the handy checklist below before attempting the upgrade process.

1. Back Up Your Site Files And Data

Backing up your website before making any changes to your site is essential. 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

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 which provides an overview of new features, improvements, security fixes or any other 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 the new theme version doesn’t conflict with any existing plugins or settings before installing 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 site.

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 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. Use Child Themes For Heavily Customized Themes

If you have made extensive changes to your existing 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 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 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 simple. What can feel slightly bothersome is the precautionary work involved prior to upgrading.

Some people don’t upgrade their themes regularly, while others 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, it is solely the website owner’s responsibility to protect their online assets.

How To Upgrade Themes In WordPress – Tutorial

Upgrading your themes in your admin dashboard is easy.

Log into your WordPress administration area …

Depending on which theme(s) you have installed on your site, you may receive occasional notifications in your WP Dashboard that your theme(s) need updating …

Updating a theme in your WP dashboard is very simple and easy. You can update your theme via the “Themes” feature, or the “Updates” area.

Updating Your Themes Using The “Themes” Page

You can see which themes need updating by going to your Themes area.

Choose Appearance > Themes from your WordPress dashboard menu …

This brings you to 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 in seconds …

Your theme is now up-to-date …

Repeat the process described above to update all of your remaining themes, or use the method described below to bulk update multiple themes.

Updating Your Themes Using The “Updates” Area

Update your WordPress themes via the “Updates” screen as shown below:

To view all themes installed on your website that need 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 bulk upgrade process …

WordPress automatically updates all of your selected themes …

Congratulations! Now you know how to upgrade your theme in your dashboard.

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"If you're new to WordPress, this can stand on its own as a training course and will stay with you as you progress from beginner to advanced and even guru status." - Bruce (Columbus, Ohio)

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