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!
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.
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.
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.
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.