How To Change A WordPress Theme

how to change themes on WordPress

The appearance of your WordPress website is determined by your WordPress theme. WP themes provide the layout, color, page/post design, and other important visual aspects that make your website appealing to your audience. Since your theme determines what users see, it can greatly affect user experience and the general success of your site or store. To achieve just that, at some point you might want to change your old WordPress theme to a new one.

If you have decided to switch your old WordPress theme to a new one, there are lots of free and premium themes to choose from. You can various beautiful themes for free from the WordPress theme repository.

If you are looking for premium or paid themes instead, there are many vendors who offer these.

If you ever considered changing WordPress theme safely, follow our step by step beginners guide. But, before we show you how to switch themes on your WordPress website, we will explain in detail, some things you need to know before proceeding.



  1. Points to consider when choosing a WordPress theme
  2. Checks to carry out on your WordPress website before switching theme
  3. How to install WordPress themes
  4. How to switch to or activate a new theme in WordPress



Points To Consider When Choosing A WordPress Theme

There are a few things to consider when switching your theme, including:

Theme layout

Your new WordPress theme that you want to change to should be able to display all the elements on your website such as logos, menus, and sidebars in a way that does not distort the appearance. The theme should support all website functionalities and should not be too complex to modify.

Mobile Responsiveness

Majority of internet users access websites with mobile devices. If your old theme is not mobile responsive, you will need a new theme that is suitable for the modern online presence.

Cross-browser compliance

You should choose a new theme that displays well on all the major browsers.

Importance of plugin compatibility when changing WordPress theme

The new theme should work well with all active plugins. If the theme is not compatible with your WordPress plugins, then you shouldn’t use it.

Use of active widgets

If you are switching from a widget-enabled theme, it follows that you switch to another widget enabled theme. By doing this, you will not lose data that is already saved by your widgets.

Checks to Carry out Before You Change Your WordPress Theme

Backup your website

Whether you encounter problems while switching WordPress themes or not, it is recommended that you make a backup of all your WordPress files and database. Our WordPress backup guide will take you through the steps.

Enable Temporary maintenance mode

While switching themes on your website, users may think your site is broken. To prevent this from happening, temporarily turn on the maintenance mode of your website by using a Maintenance Mode plugin.

Take note of custom code and CSS

Walk through your files and take note of every custom code that was added to your theme to improve your website’s functionality. Copy them out so that you may transfer them to the new theme files.

If a developer did work on your site, you may reach out to them, or consult their documentation to know which files contain custom code.

Transfer your tracking information before you change WordPress theme

If you had added tracking and analytics codes to your site, you should locate and copy them out. The code is to be transferred to the new theme to retain Google’s tracking service after the switch.

How To Install WordPress Themes

Option A – How to Change a WordPress Theme to Free Themes

If you are looking to install a free theme from the WordPress theme directory, here’s how:

From your admin dashboard, select Appearance, then click on the Add New button.

Add new theme

On the Add Themes page, look for Search themes on the right side of the page and type the name of the theme you want WordPress to download. In this example, we are searching for a theme named Catch Fullscreen.

When the search filter brings up the results, locate your chosen WordPress theme and click Install.

Themes showcase

You should not immediately activate the theme you just installed. Instead, do a preview of the theme on different browsers. This will let you see the appearance and workability of the theme.

You may choose to activate your theme after you have done a preview, or even download and install other new themes as well. We will still show you how to activate or change to a new WordPress theme in the next section.

Option B – how to change a WordPress theme to Premium Themes

This method is most suitable when installing premium or paid WordPress themes.

The first thing you need to do is download a .zip file of your purchased theme, and save it on your computer. Do not extract the files.

Login to your WordPress admin dashboard. Just like the first step in Option A above, select Appearance and then click the Add New button.

On the Add Themes page, click on Upload Theme.

Upload theme - how to change a wordpress theme

Click Browse to select your theme’s .zip file from your computer.

browse theme file

When the file you selected is loaded, click Install Now.

Installing a theme - how to change a wordpress theme

When the theme is installed, you may go on to view a Live Preview of the theme.


How To Switch to Or Activate A New theme in WordPress

At this point, you should have carried out all the checks necessary to successfully switch themes and should have installed a selected theme. To switch theme, go to your admin dashboard, select Appearance, and then Themes.

If there is are a large number of installed themes on your Themes page, you may have to search for your theme using the Search installed themes… search bar. But if not, simply locate your theme on the Themes page and click Activate.

activate theme

And that’s it! Go on to enjoy the brand new look of your site.

Last Words on How to Change Your WordPress Theme

WordPress sites can’t work without a theme. Even if you urgently need to change your WordPress theme, you should still take some time to carry out necessary checks. Your website may end up with unexpected results if you don’t prevent the problems that can result from theme switching.

If you were not using a plugin for your Google Analytics service, do well to transfer the Google Analytics Code to the relevant files on your new theme.

Now that you have studied our guide on how to switch themes in WordPress, it’s safe to follow the detailed steps and easily switch your WordPress themes. For more WordPress tutorials check our WordPress blog.

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