WordPress TutorialIf you are new to WordPress, make sure you read the overview of WordPress themes. This detailed article explains what WordPress themes are and how using a theme can be cost-effective and time-saving for business website owners.

This step-by-step tutorial will show you how to update themes inside the dashboard.

Upgrading WP Themes – Best Practices

Upgrading Your WordPress Theme - Best Practices

Before updating your themes,  go through the best practices 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 things back to their previous configuration.

If you don’t want to perform manual backups, there are a number of plugins you can use. You can read about a WordPress backup plugin that can fully automate your site backups here: Backup, Clone And Protect Your WP Web Site With Backup Creator Plugin For WP

2. Check The Changelog

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 some release notes accompanying an update which provides an overview of new features, improvements, security fixes or important information pertaining to 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.

Useful Tip

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 to see if the new theme version doesn’t conflict with any existing plugins or settings before installing 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 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 to see if anyone has 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 WordPress themes, and even for some free plugins).

5. Is Your Theme Customized? Use A Child Theme

If you have made extensive customizations to your existing theme files, upgrading your theme may result in your custom modifications being overwritten. To prevent losing your theme modifications, therefore,  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 become familiar with the use of 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 official WordPress child theme page here: WordPress Child Themes

Useful Tip

As you will see below, the actual process of updating a WordPress theme is fairly simple. The step that takes the most time and effort to complete is the precautionary work involved prior to upgrading.

Many people don’t upgrade their themes regularly, while many upgrade without going through all of the steps listed in the section above. As mentioned earlier, the above are recommended best practice methods for ensuring problem-free upgrades. Ultimately, as a website owner, it is your responsibility to protect your digital properties.

Upgrading WordPress Themes In The WP Dashboard – Step-By-Step Tutorial

Updating your theme in your dashboard is simple.

Log into your WordPress administration area …

Updating Your Theme

Depending on which theme(s) you have installed on your site, you may receive occasional alerts in your dashboard that new theme versions are available and require updating …

Theme Management: Upgrading WordPress Themes From Your Admin Dashboard

Updating a WordPress theme from the dashboard is a very simple process. You can update your WordPress themes using the “Themes” section, or the “Updates” page.

Updating WordPress Themes From The “Themes” Area

To see which themes require updating, go to your Themes area.

Select Appearance > Themes in your WordPress dashboard menu …

Updating Themes In WordPress

This brings you to the “Themes” page …

WordPress Theme Management: Updating Your Themes

Themes that need updating display an “Update Available” message over the theme’s thumbnail image …

WordPress Theme Management: How To Upgrade Your Themes

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

Upgrading Your WordPress Themes

WordPress will automatically update the theme in seconds …

How To Upgrade Your WP Theme

Your WordPress theme is now updated …

Theme Management: Upgrading Your Themes

Repeat the above process to update all of your out-of-date themes, or use the method described below to update multiple themes at once.

Updating WordPress Themes Using The Updates Area

Update your themes from the Updates screen as shown below:

To view all themes on your website that require updating, click on Dashboard > Updates

How To Update Your Themes

This opens up the Updates screen. Scroll down to the Themes section …

Theme Management: Upgrading WP Theme From The WP Dashboard

Select all the themes you want to update and click on “Update Themes” to complete the bulk upgrade process …

WordPress Theme Management: How To Upgrade Your WP Themes

WordPress will automatically update all of your selected themes …

Theme Management: Updating Your Themes

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