I have not experimented much with WordPress themes so far but I wanted some customization for my website. I searched for simple yet customizable, SEO friendly themes from WordPress. Though all the themes are to a great extent user friendly, and search engine friendly, my search was for a theme that would meet my requirements and fulfill the SEO aspects as well.
I quite liked the twenty ten theme and decided to activate it. This theme was already installed; all I had to do is activate it. The best part of WordPress themes are that they let you preview your selection. And that helps a lot. Without activating it, you can find out how your site will look after the theme gets activated. You can check out the internal pages, and once you are satisfied, you can go ahead with activating the selected theme or look for another option.
I knew there were some elements that would not get automatically transferred on to the new theme, such as, Manual excerpts, Google Analytics, to name a few. I was willing to go with that because in return I was going to get a new theme that suited my requirements.
Here is a summary of the whole process: –
1. I backed up all of my existing files in my local drive.
2. Made a note of the enabled plugins and then disabled all plugins.
3. I had modified the Footer.php file with some customization, I copied those codes in a notepad.
4. Before starting the switch over I went over to the WordPress codex forum to read about the twenty ten theme and any specific issues associated with it.
5. I was not that nervous because I knew if this failed, I could easily go back to my old theme. Yes, isn’t that a relief?
6. I activated the new theme. It was a matter of minutes and the new theme was up and about, but of course not without giving me heartaches!
7. The first thing I did was, clicked on the widgets area and customized the display of widgets; that was the easy part.
8. I wanted to include excerpts instead of full posts on my home page. I have customized manual excerpts for each of my post and I did not want to lose that. I was ready with this because WordPress forums have a lot of information regarding excerpte. I opened the “loop.php file on my Dreamweaver (And I did remember to back it up first) and replaced this which was present in line 137-
It did work, but my post started showing duplicate “continue reading” links…Oops!
9. I went back to WordPress Codex for help. I learned from the forum that the best practice is to create a child theme first and then make any changes. With a child theme one can completely change the look and feel of a site and more importantly your changes remain safe because even if the parent theme gets updated, the child theme does not get affected. Well, I knew that I would most likely make only a couple of changes, and If I document those I will be fine. (I think I will end up creating a child theme finally). I found a quick fix for my problem, but the quick fix happened to be in the functions.php file! Believe me, Functions.php is one file I would not want to tamper with! I backed up the “functions.php” file in my local folder. I was not going to take any chances, I have been bitten once, I have realized not to meddle with the active code without having a back up.
10. This is what I had to do. I had to replace the below-mentioned code in the functions.php file-
11. I did that and clicked on the update button and prayed that I won’t see the dreaded “Internal error message”, Believe me no one wants to see that. It did work! The problem was solved and my site was displaying alright! I was not ready to celebrate yet; I still had some more critical things to do.
12. Backed up the Footer.php, and pasted the Google analytics and my footer customization code on it. That was smooth.
13. It was now time to reawaken the sleeping plugins. I activated the plugins one by one, checked that all of those were working fine, and finally I was done!
I started working on this very late at night, and by the time I was done, it was almost morning!
It was time to get some sleep and dream of more customization!
Since I have just switched over to a new theme, if you find any bugs in my site, please do let me know @contact @seo-bestpractices.com