Switching from one theme to another can be a nightmare. Not only do you no know what the theme will look like on your site, but you also need to change settings, adjust widgets, and alter content the new theme live.
While I always recommend creating a staging site before switching themes, there are times when this is not feasible (time, budget, or technical limitations).
In these cases, you need a tool to quickly and easily preview the new theme.
Luckily, there is a tool already built in WordPress.
It’s called Live Preview and it lets you preview a new theme on your site, change settings, and when ready, publish it to your site.
How To Use Live Preview
Live Preview can be accessed from the Theme Management page (appearance >> Themes).
You can use Live Preview on any installed themes. So if you haven’t already installed the theme you want to preview, do so now.
Once you’ve installed the theme, hover over the theme and select the “Live Preview” button that appears, as seen in the screenshot below:
Once you do that, the Customizer window will open.
It will look something like this:
In this window, you can not only preview and navigate your theme, but you can begin making adjustments to the theme through the Customizer on the left.
The number of options available will be limited by the theme’s options.
But you’ll have the ability to manage, add, and remove widgets. As well as other basic WordPress options like Navigation and Header Image.
You can adjust these settings as you see fit.
And if you are ready to publish, you can click Save & Activate. The new theme will now go live.
Live Preview Limitations
This is great. But there are definitely some major limitations.
For instance, if you don’t activate the theme after making any customizations, you will lose those customizations. So, when previewing a site you plan on making live, you should make the customizations when you are ready to publish.
Likewise, this makes collaboration somewhat difficult. Each member of your team will need to login to WordPress and navigate to the Live Preview (if this is a major concern, you may be interested in Theme Test Drive).
These are minor points, but should be noted before you begin previewing a theme.
As stated in the beginning, the best way to preview a new theme is to create a staging site. This keeps your live site and test site separate.
However, some users don’t have the technical ability. Or they just want a way to quickly preview the theme.
So, that’s where Live Preview comes in.
Give it a try and let me know what you think.