[How-To] Safely Test-drive Themes on WordPress

While switching a theme in your WordPress blog, it’s quite obvious that you’ll put your blog down to maintenance, do all the back-stage work (widgets, tweaks) and finally activate the theme, so your visitors won’t notice your blog’s design being broken if they happen to visit right in the middle of your work. Though the new WordPress is equipped with Preview feature that lets you test-drive a theme, it’s not quite advanced like Theme Test Drive plugin.

Theme Test Drive plugin allows you to safely test drive any theme on your blog as administrator, while your visitors will still see the default one. It happens completely transparent and your visitors will not even notice that you run a different theme for yourself. Best part is that you’ll have access to the testing theme’s theme options in the Admin panel.

Wordpress - Link to Theme Test Drive plugin Download the plugin from WordPress repository, upload and activate. From the Appearance menu in the left pane, click Theme Test Drive. Under usage, select the theme that you want to test-drive, followed by the minimum access level. The access levels are

  • 1 for Contributors
  • 4 for Authors
  • 7 for Editors
  • 10 for Admin

For example, if you are the admin and if only you should have access to the testing theme, you’ll set the access level to 10. And if you set it to 4, authors, editors and admins will have access to the testing theme. Finally, when you are done, click enable to have access to the new testing theme, and your visitors will still see the default theme.

Wordpress - Theme Test Drive - Plugin settings page

Once your testing is over and you want to make your testing theme default, activate it from Appearance >> Themes. Come back to the plugin settings page to disable it. Now that you’ve learnt to safely test-drive themes, you can start switching your themes like a ninja ;)