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Changing WordPress Theme: How Frequently Should You Do It?

Steven 8 responses WordPress

To be quite frank, you should set up your blog with the intention of sticking with your WordPress theme forever, or at least a year or two. Remember, there are millions of other blogs out there and your theme design is one of the things that sets your blog apart from the others.

custom wordpress theme

Branding is extremely important when you’re working online because we work across so many different platforms. There’s your blog, your Facebook account, your Twitter account, LinkedIn, Squidoo and every place else you communicate or publish content. You want people to recognize you no matter where they bump into you on the web. And your blog’s theme is often the first place they’ll see your logo so you want it to stay “branded” in their mind.

All that being said, here are some times you’ll want to change your theme:

  • If it takes too long to load or it can no longer handle your traffic
  • If you can’t customize it to include your logo and the colors you want
  • If it’s outdated and no longer compatible with new widgets or scripts
  • If you need more room to display your growing variety of content
  • If you like to dress it up for the holidays

Generally, you shouldn’t change your theme more than once a year – if that. Actually, like I said earlier, you should set out from the very beginning to choose a theme you’ll never have to change. But here are some things you can do to make the transition easier for your readers:

Warn them ahead of time that there’s a redesign in the works. Write a post that tells them what they can expect and when they can expect the changes to take place. Just change up your site one night with no advance warning and your regular readers are going to think they’ve arrived on the wrong blog and click away.

There’s that saying to remember, too: You can please some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time… Expect complaints from your readers if you install a completely new WordPress theme. Especially if you’ve been blogging for years and this is the first time you’ve made changes. Don’t take these complaints personally but do pay attention. Sometimes our readers see things more clearly than we do.

Make your changes gradually: Instead of giving your blog a complete makeover over night, change one thing at a time and let your readers adjust to the change before you change something else.

Test your new design: If at all possible, test your new design on a sub-domain and make sure everything works. Nothing means sudden death for your blog like your readers arriving to a page that says “under construction” or 404 error.

A lot of bloggers like to decorate their blogs for the holidays and readers always seem to appreciate the seasonal changes. Instead of changing out your entire WordPress theme, consider adding some holiday decoration to your header or you can create your own holiday-themed ads for your sidebar. Remember, you still want people to recognize your brand, so just a little holiday décor goes a long way.

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  1. Elliott Scott

    These are all such great suggestions! I’ve been wondering about how often I should change my theme lately. Thanks for your input!

    1. Hey thanks for the nice words Elliott!

  2. I haven’t changed my theme in a while. I’ve been considering it, but have decided against it because the only one who is probably bored with it, is me, and I still get loads of complements on my logo.

    1. You can always change the design but keep the logo, can’t you? ;)

  3. Awesome post and so right on the mark! When I return to a blog (or website of any type) I like to know I have found the place I am looking for. A radical change in look and feel can fool me into looking elsewhere.

    1. It’s spot on, Stephen! The graphic identity allows visitors to quickly know if they are in the right place.

  4. Christy

    I have been considering changing my theme. My bounce rate isn’t where I would like it to be and I am thinking that my theme is affecting it. I like my theme and am hesitant to change it but I need to improve my bounce rate.

    1. Instead of making a big change at once, you can try tweaking it and see how it influences your readers…