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How to change wordpress theme without going live

Published Categorized as Ecommerce Stores, Website Design

There are times when you’d like to test a wordpress theme without going live.

Maybe you’re thinking about trying a new design or new look for your WordPress site or WooCommerce store.

Or Maybe you’re trying to figure out if a problem with your site is being used by the theme you have active.

Either way there’s one main option for changing a WordPress or WooCommerce theme without going live…

How to change WordPress theme without going live

Working on your live WordPress site is dangerous when making big changes such as changing theme. You risk losing data and impacting user experience for website users whilst you’re making edits.

Working on your live WooCommerce store is even more risky – with sales being made and orders being placed on your live site, you risk losing customers, not just orders!

So the best way to test a new WordPress theme without impacting your live site is to create a staging site.

A staging is a direct copy of your site.

You can safely change WordPress theme without going live by activating your new or alternative theme on your staging site.

How do I change my WordPress theme?

Once you’re satisfied with the theme change on your staging site, you can then revert back to your live site.

To perform a theme change on your live site, you should put your WordPress site or WooCommerce store into maintenance mode.

Once in maintenance mode, you can then activate your new WordPress and WooCommerce theme on your live site.

How to work on WordPress theme without activating

If you’re trying to make edits to the WordPress theme files without having the theme active, you need to edit theme files in the theme editor.

You can also edit theme files directly in file manager via CPanel.

If you install a File Manager plugin such as WP File Manager you can also edit theme files directly in the themes folder.

How to change WordPress theme without losing content

Changing themes SHOULDN’T lead to losing content, as content is stored in your database – not in your theme (put simply).

Some themes do have specific content blocks and areas which get stored in the database and only displayed by that specific active theme. This is less and less the case, but some older themes can work like this.

If you change WordPress Page Builders however, you do risk losing content as this data IS stored in containers created by the Page Builder.

So if using Elementor or Divi Builder, be conscious that you CAN change WordPress themes BUT you need to keep the WordPress Page Builder the same to keep your content.

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By Ashley Pearce

I'm the founder of Future State Media, a "small-on-purpose" creator-focused SEO agency skilled in helping creators systematically generate traffic, build audiences and maximise their monetisation whilst staying true to their brand.