WordPress is known for its flexibility – you can change the look and feel of your blog in a matter of a click – and this makes it quite enticing for some to try to create a very special user experience by changing their theme according to the season or the upcoming holidays. The problem is, though, that the flexibility and the option to change the look and feel of your blog might indeed be there but changing your WordPress theme – for the holidays or just because you want to try out something new usually turns out to be a very bad idea.
Normally, it’s new-beginning bloggers who are seduced by the idea to change WordPress themes and the reason’s quite simple – they haven’t gone through the process and don’t know how messy it can get. No matter whether you’re a beginner or not, if you’re considering to vamp your blog for the holidays, you should read this post first. Here I’ll give you an overview of what you can expect and will present you with better alternative solutions.
If Using a Premium WordPress Theme
Premium themes are great for many reasons – quality, timely updates, great flexibility and functionality, etc. All this comes, though, with a price. All the fine design twists and functionalities which you’ve enjoyed using with your current theme, make it a very bad idea to change your theme for the holidays. The reason is that you’ll not only need to pay a lot of money to find a theme, matching yours in functionality, but you’ll also need to redo all of your pages and blog post types.
What’s left unsaid when the incredible flexibility of WordPress is being advertised, is that your theme keeps your content in a certain layout which you either got ready with the template or created yourself by tweaking a lot of options. When you switch to another theme, you lose your current layout and have to start working more or less from scratch with the new theme to make it work for you.
Especially if you run a website with a lot of pages or different post types, you’ve got to be aware of the consequences of changing your theme. You’ll ultimately need to redo each and everyone of your pages and check them for functionality problems or left-over code pieces. Premium themes feature indeed different functions which are implemented by adding a piece of code to your pages. While the theme supporting the code is there, you don’t see code but whatever you wanted to see – a button for example. In the moment you change your theme, you end up with a dysfunctional – and visible – code piece on all pages where it was used.
Last but not least, after you’ve changed your WordPress theme for the holidays – and done all the work to make your blog look good again, you have to be aware that you’ve only gone half the way – as you’d most likely want to change back to your usual theme after the holidays are over. If you’re hoping that you can just click on Activate and get all your settings back, you’d be quite disappointed.
Reality is that everything will be all messed up and will need just as much work as the very first time you set the functions and design of your theme. In fact, even when activating another theme for just a second and then coming back to your old one, you can’t rely that everything will be back to the way it was. Especially the more intricate theme designs tend to give a lot of layout problems.
If Using a Free Theme
With free themes you have a lot less freedom in terms of choosing the design of your pages and adding functionality. Thus, you’re forced to fit your content into the provided layout and to limit the options for blog visitors to what the theme or the plugins you install allow.
If you decide to vamp your blog and change your WordPress theme for the holidays, you’ll likely again choose a free theme. This means that you’ll have to once again fit your content into the provided new layout and try to make it work. You’ll also likely need to find new plugins matching the functionality which you’d want to provide to your blog visitors.
While it might be a bit easier to switch themes when using a simple design, you’d still have to redo all your pages twice – when changing the first time and then when changing back to your old theme. You’ll also have to check for eventual dysfunctional code pieces or malfunctioning widgets.
If Using a Lot of Plugins
Even though it’s not recommended to use a lot of plugins, due to the high risk of incompatibility issues arising at some point, sometimes there’s no way around if you must provide specific functionality. If that’s the case, you might want to think twice before deciding to change your WordPress theme for the holidays. The reason is rather simple: if you were lucky enough to find a configuration that works and provides all the functionality you need, you shouldn’t risk to mess it up by activating a new theme.
Chances are indeed that something will go wrong. So, besides all the downsides of changing a WordPress theme described above, you’ll likely end up with a site where a lot of things simply don’t work the way they are supposed to.
You can, of course, always try to find alternatives for the plugins you currently use but this is a time-consuming and potentially expensive exercise. Last but not least, remember that some plugins and themes do leave traces of code in your installation which might cause incompatibility issues, malfunction of widgets or simply visible code pieces on your pages, once you’ve switched back to your usual theme.
One Last Concern and the Good Alternative Solution
Besides the fact that changing your WordPress theme for the holidays might go terribly wrong and cost you a lot of time to fix, it isn’t always a good marketing tactic either. Keep in mind that site visitors are often used to the way your pages look and the way they function. Thus, every single change can cause drop in traffic due to visitors getting confused or not recognizing your site. Visual signals are indeed quite important in the marketing world when it comes to brand recognition, conversions, and customer loyalty.
To avoid all the hustle, try to get the nice holiday effect by choosing the right plugin. You can surely find one which works with your configuration and gives you the desired effect – in most cases even for free. Here’s for example a collection of WordPress plugins adding a Christmas-y look to your site.
So – do you still feel like changing your WordPress theme for the holidays? If not, here’re two plugins that can help you get the effect you want to achieve – for a small amount of money (I’m listing premium plugins here as I wasn’t able to find free ones with convincing reviews, most of them had 0 reviews and very few installs. If interested in them, however, you can find them in WordPress’ plugin directory):