Best strategy for developing/changing theme of existing site

I’ve been using elegant themes for some time and really like the way they look. I’m wanting to shift my site over from our current theme to the Divi theme (primarily to take advantage of e-commerce that’s built in).

I have a subdomain set up ( but am wondering what the best strategy is for
a. moving existing content to the subdomain (where there isn’t SSL enabled)
b. developing/editing the site on the subdomain with the new theme
c. moving the site to the main domain (where SSL is enabled)
d. preserving the old site in case something doesn’t go right

My goal is to stop adding content to the old site, spend a solid week or two on the new site and then “flip a switch” so the new site is live at the domain

Got a good strategy or guide for doing this?
Is there an easier better way than above?

Thanks in advance,

Deellaaayed replies. Sorry. Life ate me!

So the problem is that you’d need to take into account things like posts and comments. There’s no great, perfect, way about it because of how (annoyingly) WP stores theme settings.

Some people like plugins like which let them dev a theme and then switch other. Others like to spin up a local site and develop there,

For what you’re describing, if you’re sure there won’t be any content changing (including comments), then you can duplicate the site in total, DB and all, build it all out, and then install the theme files at and just edit the wp-config.php to point to the new DB.

Hi everyone,
I would like to change the WP theme of my website

Currently I use twentyfourteen, but I think the layout i have does not comply with Google AdSense requirements.

I want to try out other themes, but I couldn’t understand the above discussion. I tried to install my DB on my computer, but then I can’t see what it will look like on mobile. So I think I have to install a duplicate of my DB as a test site on dreamhost. What are the steps to do that?

Or is it a really bad idea to try out other themes on my live website?

thank you for any response to this stupid question.
-mj lee

no one replied to my question, but I contacted Dreamhost support and they told me how I could make a duplicate test database. I would have to do another one-click install to a subdirectory, and then copy my database to that subdir. They also suggested creating a subdomain of

However, I ended up instead installing wp on my mac and figuring out how to copy and test my wp database on localhost. It turned out that WP 4.6 offers what seems to be a pretty accurate simulation of the mobile screen from within wpadmin.

Check your statistics and do it at a time when you have few visitors.

Honestly, changing themes on a WP site [em]shouldn’t[/em] break things—that’s kind of the point with themes. And reliable themes generally don’t. But if you’ve made edits to the theme files (a definite no-no), or have plugins that insert code into theme files, or try out a wonky theme, then things could get interesting.

Actually, I found that different themes do not handle widgets & menus in the same way. I had to reconfigure the menus when I switched themes. So I concluded it is better NOT to tryout themes on a live website. Altho I have so little activity, probably no one would have noticed!