Today I welcome Sharon from Mom of 6. She’s one fabulous blogger and I was even lucky enough to part of her dance team at a Type A Parent conference Ubisoft party back in June. Nothing like bonding while dancing to 80s tunes. Today, Sharon explain a really cool plugin for the tech-savvy blogger who wants to tinker with the new theme behind the scenes!
Are you in the middle of blog self-assessment? Perhaps you’ve participated in the SITS Girls 31 Days to Build a Better Blog Challenge, or maybe you’ve had the benefit of receiving a blog critique, or even have conducted your own DIY blog critique? Perhaps you are now sitting with a list of changes and enhancements that you would like to make to your site… but you are wondering if what you really need to do is to kick your current word press theme to the curb and start over with a more user-friendly, easily configurable theme? (For an overview of three of the more popular WordPress Themes, check out Momcomm’s comparison of Thesis, Genesis, and Headway).
That’s exactly where I was six months ago- I knew that my old WordPress theme wasn’t offering me the bells and whistles nor the flexibility that I was looking for, and I decided that I wanted to make the leap over to Thesis. But how could I go about making that change while still publishing my blog using my current theme, and also taking the time that I needed to properly learn and configure the new theme?
I mean, I have six kids people and a life outside of blogging! And making the change over to a new theme was going to be done “in-house”… meaning by me, at my house- as there were no funds to direct towards hiring a web developer for this one! So I did my research and I came across this fantastic plug-in:
Theme Test Drive
Using the Theme Test Drive plug-in allows you to install a new theme on your site and configure it before you activate it on your site, but only you will be able to see what your site looks like operating under the new theme! Your readers will still see your current blog under your old theme- including any new posts, pages, and widgets. Cool, right? So here’s how you do it….
Steps to Using Theme Test Drive
Step 1: Download and activate the Theme Test Drive plug in. (I am going to make the leap here and assume that you are all plug-in savvy… if not, then a DIY blog theme upgrade may not be where you want to start building your “in-house” tech skills!)
Step 2: Once the plug-in is activated, you’ll need to download your new theme files and set up your blog for the test drive. To access the settings screen for Theme Test Drive, select Appearance from your WordPress menu, and then select Theme Test Drive.
You can either download the theme files to your WordPress blog, using the built-in feature found under Appearance / Themes, or you can enter the url of the new theme’s zipfile, and load your new theme right here from the Theme Test Drive menu.
Next, select your new theme from the drop down menu, and then select “enable theme test drive”. And boom, that’s all there is to it.
You can now start accessing your new theme’s configuration files and settings and start playing around with your new theme’s options to see how you blog will look and operate under the new theme. To view your blog using the new theme, simply select the “post preview” on any post. Your readers will continue to see your blog just the same way as always, until you activate your new theme. And if you need to see your blog under the current theme, simply log off of your WordPress dashboard and go into your blog- you will see it just like any other reader.
Keep in mind, there are parts of your blog’s appearance that are controlled by the theme… and parts that are not!
Some themes control the appearance of the blog’s header (as Thesis does) and some themes do not. If your new theme does not control the appearance of the blog’s header, and you upload a new header file while testing your new theme, then the “whole world” will see that new header. If you decide to start changing around your categories- adding new ones and deleting old ones- that is another example of data that is not controlled by the theme, and all readers of your blog will see your category changes.
But things such as menus, fonts, and colors typically fall under the theme’s control- so if you begin to play with those settings while using Theme Test Drive, you will be the only one to see those changes, until you activate your new theme.
And when you are ready to “go live”?
It’s oh-so simple…
My name is Sharon and I am the busy Mom of six children ages 11, 10, 8, 8, 6, and 6. People often ask me “How do you do it?”, so I created Momof6 – a place where I write about organizing your home, using a family calendar, creating household routines, hosting at-home birthday parties and holding a DIY summer camp!
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