Working Behind the WordPress Curtains
A lot of times I hear people asking how to best approach fiddling around with certain design elements in their current theme without their visitors seeing any mistakes they make. A different version of the same question is about wanting to implement a complete new design and layout and optimize it to your liking. Also without you bothering your regular visitors. There is a very simple solution for that that requires a only a few simple steps.
Just a Few Steps
The only thing you need to do for this to work is installing the Theme Test Drive. There is a different way of seeing how your site would look like in a new a new theme, by the way. All you need to do is navigate to the Theme you would like to preview in your Theme menu and right click the link that says Preview and in the following menu you select Open in New Tab (or whatever similar your browser provides you). A new tab will open in browser showing you what your site looks like sporting the new Theme. This is however not a solid solution when it comes to testing the different pages and using widgets for example.
After having installed and activated Theme Test Drive plugin you will see an extra menu in Appearance which allows you to select what Theme you would like to test drive. By enabling the Theme of preference and selecting the proper user level, in other words should only admins be able to see the new Theme?
And We’re Done Already
All there is left for you to do is navigate to your site by clicking Visit Site in the top of your WordPress Dashboard and there you have it. The beauty of this solution is that it allows you to treat this new Theme as if though it would actually be live and that means you also have a new set of sidebars where you need to configure your widgets to get the result you’re looking for.
When you want to make adjustments to your currrent Theme, simply download a copy to your computer via FTP, rename the folder and adjust the Header part of your
style.css with a higher version number, save it and upload it to your themes directory. In effect changing it from something like this:
/* Theme Name: Your Theme Theme URL: http://www.themeurl.com/ Description: Your Current Rocking Theme Author: Remkus de Vries Author URI: http://remkusdevries.com Version: 1.0 */
/* Theme Name: Your Theme Theme URL: http://www.themeurl.com/ Description: Your New Rocking Theme Author: Remkus de Vries Author URI: http://remkusdevries.com Version: 2.0 */
Now select the higher version of your current theme in the Theme Test Drive menu. That’s it. Happy fiddling!
Note: Even though this a great way to change a few things here and there, I do recommend setting up a proper copy of your site in, for instance a subdomain combined with a plugin like Maintenance Mode, when you are really getting your hands dirty.