If you are new to WordPress, make sure to read our overview of WordPress themes. We’ve written an in-depth article that explains what WordPress themes are and how themes can save website owners time and money.
In this tutorial, you will learn how to upgrade a theme in your admin area.
Updating WP Themes – Best Practices Checklist
Before updating any themes, we recommend going through the handy checklist below.
1. Back Up Everything
Backing up your files and data before making any updates to your site is essential. This way, if things don’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. You can read about a WordPress backup plugin that can automate your backup process here: Backup, Duplicate & Protect Your WordPress Site With Backup Creator WP Plugin
2. Check The Theme Update Notes
When WordPress upgrades its software to a new version, this can affect the functionality of certain themes. Depending on the theme you have installed, there may be a changelog file included with an update which provides an overview of new features, improvements, security fixes or any other changes in the new theme version.
If the changes seem irrelevant or unimportant, you can skip the update. Otherwise, it’s best to 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 an installed theme, track bugs and make sure that all plugins are working fine with the new theme before applying 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 play with the 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 search online and see if other theme users have reported any serious problems 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 premium themes, and even for some free plugins).
5. Is Your WordPress Theme Customized? Use A Child Theme
If you have made extensive changes to your existing WordPress 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 modifications get 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 just visit the WordPress Codex child theme page here: WordPress Codex: Child Themes
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! What can feel slightly bothersome is the precautionary work involved prior to upgrading.
Many 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, as a website owner, it is your responsibility to protect your digital properties.
Upgrading Your Themes – Tutorial
Upgrading your WP theme in your admin dashboard is easy.
Log into your WordPress admin area …
Depending on which theme(s) are installed on your site, you may receive occasional notifications in your WP Dashboard that new theme versions are available and require updating …
Updating a WordPress theme in your dashboard is simple and easy. You can update your themes using the “Themes” feature, or the “Updates” page.
Updating Your Site Themes Using The “Themes” Page
To see which themes need updating, go 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 will automatically update your theme in seconds …
Your theme is now updated …
Repeat the above to update all of your remaining themes, or use the method described below to bulk update multiple themes at once.
Updating WordPress Themes From The “Updates” Screen
Update your WordPress themes via the “Updates” page as follows:
To view all themes in 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 upgrade process …
WordPress will automatically update all of your selected themes …
Congratulations! Now you know how to update your themes from your admin dashboard.
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