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How to Edit your Blog Theme Without Messing up

This is a guest post by Ashwin for Daily Blog Tips’ Blog Writing Project: Tips & Tricks.

Imagine yourself with your blog messed up while editing your theme files and don’t know where you went wrong. The blog looks awkward when the PHP code is gone bad while trying to adding an Ad code, inserting things or editing the code.

Some tips and tricks for your WordPress blog helping you get over PHPophobia – fear of messing up your blog’s theme files!

Refer to the theme files

WordPress Theme Files

The easiest and an effective tip is just refer to your theme files. It’s the way that your blog was previously. In case you screw things up, you can always copy-paste it back. No sweat!

Keep your old theme’s files

When you’re switching theme, it’s good practice to keep the old theme files. You can see the files and do changes in the new theme files as the code is mostly the same. This helps you which saves time and you don’t miss to add/edit some things in your new theme.

More Information: How to Change WordPress Theme Effortlessly

Redesign blog privately before implementing

A handy Plugin by the name of Preview Theme helps you test/design your blog before you apply the changes to your site. You do this in private and none knows.

Detailed instructions: Redesigning Your WordPress Theme? Do It Behind The Scenes With This Plugin

Use Widgets feature

An easy way to edit your sidebar without messing things up is using the Widgets function of WordPress. Simply drag and drop the items in the way you want to see in sidebar and you’re done without chances of error.

You don’t need to be afraid to test/redesign/edit your blog even if you don’t have much knowledge of PHP. πŸ™‚ Let us know if you’ve any other tips & tricks to get over PHPophobia

Check out Ashwin’s The Newspaper Blog where he writes about P2P, Blogging, Movies and miscellaneous ramblings and don’t forget to Subscribe to his feeds.

About Nirmal

Nirmal is a Technology Blogger and a Microsoft MVP in Windows. He can be contacted at nirmal@nirmaltv.com. You can find Nirmal on , and .


  1. Good Post!

    Very handy the preview blog plug in, I always have to apply the new theme to see how it will look.

    Another way I do to test before applying it is using the maintenance mode plug in, during the maintenance mode is activated I can apply the new theme and take a look at it before making it official live.


  2. @Joel,
    The only problem with Maintenance mode plugin is that readers are not able to see the blog unless you finish editing, but with Live preview, you always edit and test your theme.

  3. A very nice tip, thanks. I never knew about the Live Preview plugin. I’ll try it now.

  4. Nice tips, i usually test my theme in local machine before putting it live.

  5. Joel –
    I thought abt that. Unless you have some issues with your blog – why you want to bring the blog down temporarily?

  6. Hey great tips :mrgreen: The first one is interesting!

  7. @Ram: I do the same πŸ˜›

  8. Wow, very useful post!

    I am guilty of making changes on my live site because I don’t have access to a test site. I always test changes on a rarely used page like 404 or the search results page to avoid it affecting anyone (hopefully!). That preview theme plugin will be useful.

    As for backing up files, I always keep a copy of my theme on my harddrive every few days. As I mess things up regularly, they have come in very handy quite often!

  9. quite good tips…i would like to add somethng….that it is also much better if can install wamo on your system…and play with it loaclly before you make any changes to your blog on web.

  10. Nice post I did indeed mess up my theme when I simply overwrote some files and had no backups but now I use SVN to store all the theme files so I can have proper versions of files.

  11. To avoid these issues I use easy php for local editing of themes

  12. Good post, while I don’t really use wordpress anymore, I’ve had my fair share of theme updates which always translated to catastrophic failure.

  13. Great tips guys… I guess we should do a sequel! :mrgreen:

  14. yea do sequel -“Try without burning theme -a curse of golden plugins ” :mrgreen: 😈

  15. Thanks for the tip on the preview plugin! Sometimes, when I do want to make a quick amendment, I would open up 2 screen tabs of the same page that I want to work on, one that shows the original script, the other for amendment. So when the changes don’t look right, I’ll just do a save on that untouched page that’s showing on the other tab. πŸ™‚

  16. Clara –
    I also would do that. Simple but an efficient one! :mrgreen:

  17. Thats a nice post as it will not only help non programmers better understand the things when they go to programmers for a change and i guess it will also make life for a programmers a little easier

  18. Good suggestions there. I usually test everything locally using Xampp. That plugin looks interesting though.

  19. @Ashwin,
    Looks live we have great ideas here and a sequel will be nice! πŸ™‚

    Your tip was very simple and easy, I liked that very much.

  20. I wish, I knew about Preview Theme plugin some days ago. I had to put my site on maintenance mode and then do my testing on it. Thanks!

  21. that previews plugin would really come handy ..thanks for the great tips

  22. Great post, while I don’t really use wordpress anymore, I’ve had my fair share of theme updates which always translated to catastrophic failure. Sigh.

  23. It’s so easy to mess up a blog particularly when customising files,
    Nice read and information.

  24. great post…….it’ so easy….nice work

  25. All it certainly is interesting but how to live further?

  26. What necessary words… super, an excellent idea

  27. Thanks for the fantastic Document extremely Interesting!!!

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