Understanding When a Theme is No Longer Supported
WordPress themes are vital to a website's appearance and functionality. It is important to keep themes up-to-date, and there are potential risks if you use an unsupported theme, such as security vulnerabilities or your site breaking with a plugin, server or WordPress update.
How can I know if my theme is being supported?
- Check for Updates: Regularly sign into your WordPress Dashboard and look for notifications indicating updates for themes, plugins, or core software. If you haven't seen an update for your theme in a while, this could be a sign that it's no longer supported. (As an aside, the Genesis Framework is still being supported.)
- Investigate the Source: Check the place where you procured the theme. This could be the free directory WordPress provides, a development agency, or a marketplace like Envato Market.
- Find the Theme's Details: In your WordPress Dashboard, navigate to the Appearance menu item on the left sidebar and look for the active theme (usually the first). Note the name of the theme.
- Run a Search: Use Google or another search engine to find where the theme was procured. Once there, look for a link to the author or creator's website.
- Check for Support Messages: If you encounter a message on the theme or theme creator's website stating that themes are no longer supported and maintained, it confirms that your theme is no longer supported. Depending on how long the support ended, your theme may already pose a security risk.
- Use Theme Check Tools: Optionally, tools like "Health Check & Troubleshooting" and "ThemeCheck" can help you assess the overall health of your theme, including whether it's up-to-date and supported. Sign up for ManageWP and use their security check.
- Consult with Professionals: Consider consulting with a professional developer if in doubt. They have additional resources and knowledge to determine whether a theme is no longer supported definitively.
By following these steps, you should be able to ascertain whether your WordPress theme continues to receive support or if it has been abandoned, helping you make informed decisions on how to proceed with your website's design and security.
Steps to Take If Your Theme Is Unsupported:
Hire a Professional: The author recommends hiring a professional developer or agency if your theme is no longer supported. Professionals will save you time and money in the long run, having the expertise to handle any issues that may arise. They may be able to bring your theme up to the latest security standards and fix any functionality issues, or they may recommend that you change themes.
Update Your Theme Focusing on Security and Functionality
If you decide to maintain the unsupported theme, hiring someone experienced in theme development is vital to continue making security updates. The author stresses that even minor updates can lead to significant changes and should be handled carefully.
Check Your Theme's Health Regularly: Whether you continue using the unsupported theme or move on to another, monitoring your site's health is essential.
The Importance of Action and Possible Fresh Start: Maintaining customer trust is critical to keeping a website secure and functioning properly. We recommend starting fresh with a new theme if you cannot hire a professional due to budget constraints. We also encourage you to separate custom functionality from the theme to avoid complications in future changes. This means keeping the functionality in plugins.
You can learn more details from "3 crucial steps to take when your WordPress theme is no longer supported" by Daniel Escardo.
Consider a WordPress Website Care Plan
All our customers are encouraged to take a WordPress Website Care Plan. Our website care plans maintain, update, and check for any security issues on a website, including an unsupported theme. Here's how a comprehensive website care plan helps you keep your website secure and functioning properly:
1. Regular Monitoring and Updates:
A website care plan typically includes regularly monitoring all aspects of the site, including themes, plugins, and core software. This ensures that everything is updated and aligned with the latest security protocols. If a theme is no longer supported, the care plan's monitoring system would detect this, and appropriate actions could be taken.
2. Professional Assistance:
Website care plans often come with professional support from experienced developers. They can guide you through the process of switching to a supported theme or even customizing an existing theme to continue to meet your needs. Their expertise ensures that the transition is smooth and doesn't negatively impact the functionality or appearance of the site.
3. Security Measures:
A key concern with unsupported themes is security vulnerabilities. A website care plan strongly emphasises security, implementing regular scans, firewalls, and other security measures. This helps detect and fix potential security threats from using an unsupported theme.
4. Backups and Recovery:
Website care plans often include regular backups of your site, so if anything goes wrong during the transition to a new theme or due to the outdated theme, there's a safety net. You can restore the website to a previous state, minimizing downtime and loss of data.
5. Strategic Planning:
With a website care plan, you're not just reacting to problems as they arise; there's a proactive strategy in place. This means planning for the future, including potential changes in theme support. If a theme is predicted to become unsupported, the care plan can guide a strategic shift to a new one or provide ongoing support for the existing one, depending on your needs.
6. Compliance and Optimisation:
Website care ensures the site complies with the latest web standards, SEO practices, and optimisations. If a theme becomes unsupported, the care plan ensures that these aspects are not negatively impacted by providing alternative solutions.
A website care plan is not just a safety measure; it's an investment in your website's continuous growth and stability. Engaging in a care plan alleviates the stress and potential risks associated with unsupported themes, knowing that professionals are handling these complexities. Whether through regular updates, security enhancements, or strategic planning, a website care plan offers a comprehensive solution to keep your WordPress site running efficiently, securely, and in line with your business goals, even if a theme is no longer supported.