Top 5 WordPress Theme Change Gotchas

Bloggers change blog themes. It’s a fact. Some change blog themes nearly as often as they change clothes. Most only change the theme a few times over the life of a blog. A few never use a different theme. I’ve changed themes on blogs quite a few times over the years, and no matter how many times I do it, I still always stumble over a few “gotchas”. I thought I would document the top 5 gotchas here, for two reasons. 1. I could come here next time I change a blog theme and hopefully avoid making the same mistakes yet again! 2. I could possibly help a few of you avoid those gotchas as well!

Gotcha #1
You forget to re-include your analytics code in the footer template. If you are using any kind of analytics program (and if you aren’t, why not?), such as Google Analytics or my favorite, Clicky Web Analytics, you’ll probably have a bit of javascript code or something similar added to your theme (usually in footer.php). If you change themes, make sure you add it into the new theme’s template.

Gotcha #2
You forget to re-include social networks code in your sidebar or footer template. Quite often, bloggers participate in one or more social networks and they either display that network’s widget, or they agree to display some sort of banner image in exchange for participation and/or traffic. If you’ve agreed to include code, and then forget to re-include it in your new theme’s template, you may lose your social network privileges and/or traffic.

Gotcha #3
You forget to re-include an advertiser’s ad. While this doesn’t tend to happen often, because it involves money, when it does happen, it’s not pretty. The last thing you want to do is make your advertisers mad at you. Plus, your reputation is on the line, so don’t ruin future ad possibilities by making this mistake.

Gotcha #4
You move from a widgetized theme to a non-widgetized theme, and all of your sidebar information disappears. Oops. New themes almost always come pre-widgetized these days, but if you have to choose one, buy one, or create one that isn’t widget-enabled, and you are used to using widgets, you’ve got a problem. Luckily, it can be fixed. Here’s a nice tutorial to help you widgetize that theme of yours.

Gotcha #5
Your new theme doesn’t include hooks that your old theme depended upon. Plugins often depend upon hooks in the header or footer of a template for them to work properly. There are other hooks as well, but more often than not, the two hooks that are needed are wp_head and wp_footer. You can get more info about these and other hooks at the WordPress codex – scroll down the page to find the Plugin API Hooks section. Luckily, it’s very easy to re-include these hooks, so just consult that codex page for instructions.

So those are the top 5 gotchas that I always seem to stumble over when I change blog themes. What about you? Got any to add? Let us know in the comments, so we can learn from your mistakes.

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5 Comments »

  1. Larry Says:

    Good article, I have changed themes once and did run into a few problems with plugins and widgets. I got it all worked out and running ok though.

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  2. CPla Says:

    Nice post, thanks for this. I’m looking at 2.6 and a few themes for a couple of blogs I want to start and this sort of insight is great for me.

    Biggest problem I have is I do not know code (tell me EXACTLY what to do and I can follow) so I prefer to know about potential problems beforehand, rather than face the all too common OMG.

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  3. Susan Says:

    You made great point with these! Haha…I especially liked 1 and 4.

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  4. Thomas Says:

    Hey.
    Really cool blog.
    I’ve just set a blog up , but was looking for a theme much like the one you have here, where I can have posts side by side on the front features with an image.

    Also if you could tell me how to get these cool looking comment boxes?

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  5. WebChicklet Says:

    I always learn by looking at other people’s code. You can grab this theme (though I’ve modified it a little) over at Elegant Themes.

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