If you are new to WordPress, make sure to read our overview of WordPress themes. This in-depth article explains what themes are and how using a theme can be cost-effective and time-saving for business owners.
This tutorial will show you how to update your theme with just a few clicks inside your admin area.
Upgrading Themes – Best Practices
Before updating any themes, we recommend going through the “best practices” checklist below to prevent any problems occuring during the process.
1. Back Up Your Site
Backing up your website before making any updates to your site is vital. This way, if things don’t go as planned, you can always restore things back to their former settings.
If you don’t want to perform manual backups, there are many plugins you can use. You can read about a WordPress backup plugin that can fully 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 included with an update which provides an overview of new features, improvements, bug fixes or important information pertaining to the new version.
If the theme changes seem irrelevant or unimportant, you can skip the update. Otherwise, you should update.
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 bugs and verify that the new theme version doesn’t conflict with any existing plugins or settings before applying it to a live site.
If you manage your own website, you can install 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 live 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 enter the theme name and version into Google, and search the theme developer’s support forum (many developers provide forums for paid themes, and even for some free plugins).
5. Is Your WordPress Theme Heavily Customized? Use A Child Theme
If you have made extensive changes to your existing WordPress theme files, updating 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 the use of 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 very simple. What can feel slightly bothersome is the preparation involved prior to upgrading.
Many people don’t upgrade their WordPress themes regularly, while many 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, it is the website owner’s responsibility to protect their online properties.
How To Upgrade Your WordPress Theme – Tutorial
Updating your themes from your dashboard is simple.
Log into your WordPress administration area …
Depending on the theme(s) you have 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 WordPress theme from your WP dashboard is easy. You can update your theme from the “Themes” page, or the “Updates” feature.
Updating Your Themes Via The “Themes” Page
To see which themes need to be updated, go to your Themes area.
Select Appearance > Themes in your WP 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 you want to update and click on the “Update Available” alert.
When the theme details window opens up, click on update now …
WordPress will automatically update your theme …
Your WordPress theme is now updated …
Repeat the process described above to update all of your remaining themes, or use the method below to bulk update multiple themes at once.
Updating WordPress Themes Using The “Updates” Section
Update your theme via the “Updates” section as follows:
To view all themes installed on 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 update process …
WordPress will automatically update all of your selected themes …
Congratulations! Now you know how to update your theme from your admin dashboard.
"Learning WordPress has been a huge stumbling block for me. I've been looking for something that covers absolutely everything but doesn't cost an arm and a leg. Thank you so much ... you have just provided me with what I have been looking for! Truly appreciated!" - Tanya