How to test a wordpress theme without changing it for live visitors

Is your site’s current theme is very slow or does it has too many glitches or you are unsatisfied with your site’s appearance? For any of such issues all you can do is go for a new theme or debug and work on your current theme. To debug you need some technical skills, but switching a new theme is very simple as it only takes a minute to setup. As an administrator you would always like to offer a better experience for your users by improving the site speed or by tweaking the design etc. If you are building a wordpress website from scratch then there is no trouble in changing or testing various themes because nobody is going to see it, but what about a live site where you are receiving thousands of visitors a day. Here let’s see how to test a wordpress theme without changing the existing theme for live visitors.

There are several high quality websites like Theme Forrest, Elegant themes, Themify, Theme Fuse and Mojo themes etc where you can find the best themes to suit your blog or website. Let’s assume that you have bought a nice fascinating theme and you would like to run it on your live website. Usually setting up a new theme in a live site is very stressful because you do not know when the theme causes trouble and tends to break something. Also attaining the desired look from the theme will take few days or even a month depending on your creativity.

So how to test your new theme; you can test it in a dummy domain, but what if you don’t have one. You can test it in local computer which most developers do and we have tutorials for that, but this takes a long process and it’s not recommended for beginners. For instance here is how to setup wordpress on localhost using WAMP and here is how to clone a live wordpress site to localhost, but here comes the better way. By using a plugin you can preview and test your theme in live environment without changing your site’s appearance or without showing any errors to your regular users.

Theme test drive – Test a wordpress theme

Theme test drive plugin allows you as an administrator to safely test themes in your website, while your regular users still use the default one. The process is completely hidden and nobody will know that you are using or testing a different theme. First install and activate Theme test drive plugin in your site and upon activation you will see an option called Theme test drive added in your Appearance section. Open the theme test drive plugin page and install the new theme that you are about to test.

How to test a wordpress theme without changing the running theme

No problem if you have already installed the theme in your site, just at the bottom select the theme to preview or test live on the site. Note that only Administrator can see the selected theme and the remaining folks will see the actual theme that you have activated. After selecting the theme click on enable theme drive and now check your site where you will see the theme that you have chosen, go on and start working on your new theme.

Theme test drive, testing themes in live environment, Theme tester

Also read: How to change the wordpress theme name

The best part is you can test any theme that you have installed in your site. For example just add?theme=default next to your domain name and it will bring the default theme. Then replace default with some other theme name that you have installed and it will bring you that theme. Next is access level where you can specify the level of users to have access to the selected theme preview. Set it between 10 to 1, for example 10 is for administrators, 7 is for editors, 4 is for authors and 1 is for contributors.

Wordpress theme preview, theme test drive, test a wordpress theme in live site

Also read: WordPress user roles and Capabilities

That’s it, you start working on your new theme and the rest of the people will use your standard theme. Hope this post helped you to test a wordpress theme in live site without disturbing the traffic.

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