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Testing theme without notifying followers

  1. My blog needs a new theme to meet changing blog needs:
    http://facchairs.wordpress.com

    I've changed a blog theme before, and had to do a huge amount of tweaking, no matter how much I tried to anticipate changes in preview. I've been putting off changing this blog's theme for just this reason. Now I can't put it off any longer. The change won't add new content, but it will involve content edits to move content around and to change its appearance.

    I don't want to harass followers or Publicize these changes. This blog is for media interested in our community advocacy group. We have very few followers, but we need them, and I need to treat them with great care, not alienate them with nonsense emails and tweets that don't offer new information (which is all they're interested in.)

    So my big question is how do I do the above without notifying anyone?

    It strikes me that these smaller questions could be part of the above big question:

    1. I have Publicize only for Twitter. I can see that I can turn it off for new posts, but what about if the whole site is changing? Can I turn remove the Twitter Publicize for the duration of the shakedown?

    2. What happens to my email followers if my blog goes temporarily private? Do they still get emails? Can I temporarily deactivate notification emails during the shakedown?

    3. If I make a new post, essentially a notice of site renovation, is there something I can tell the followers they can do to ignore or stop email for the duration?

    Btw, my concern is similar to this thread, except not the CSS part. Ie. private theme change shakedown is an issue for any site with slighly complex content, not just for customized themes w CSS:
    http://en.forums.wordpress.com/topic/customize-new-theme-without-activating?replies=5#post-922293

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.
    Jo

    The blog I need help with is facchairs.wordpress.com.

  2. Please allow me to be blunt. I'm a long time blogger. I change themes without doing any of that mucking about and I never ever make the blog private and muck up incoming traffic when I do so.

    Changing themes is easy to do and no data is ever lost. However, a new theme may have different sidebars and footers for widgets and or different features. You can go here Dashboard > Appearance > Themes and select a new theme and activate it. After you change your theme all you need to do is go here Dashboard > Appearance > Widgets > Inactive Widgets and re-install them where you want them to appear. The widget contents and settings will be the same as they were prior to changing themes.

  3. DON'T set the blog to Private - that upsets your visitors and turns them off

    If you are really worried about looks - make a second blog - set it to Private and import some of your Posts from your regular site and play with the Private site - then move the changes to the regular site -

    Me - I visit sites for the CONTENT - not the fancy theme

  4. Thanks timethief, for the info and the super quick response.

    In our case it's more than just widgets (we may not even change thos at all). The big change will be structure. I've found a theme with wider main content area, as the current one is too narrow, and has only two columns, which limits what we can put on the main page and other pages.

    So I'll be collapsing some pages, adding others, and putting more stuff on each page. The narrowness really affected how we displayed graphics and other content, and so I'll be changing their layout on new pages.

    I've tested this with the 3-col theme I'm planning to change to, but it would be too much to completely duplicate the new site in a test, and so I anticipate changes in captions and dimensions and stuff like that to fit the new parameters.

    This is the kind of small stuff that I've had to sweat in the past, and with my inexperience, I imagine I'll have to do it again. One of these days I hope to achieve your level of experience, but I'm not there here.

    Thanks, Jo

  5. Thanks for the super valuable warning auxclass about the privacy.

    I take your point about content and cosmetics. I do think that the changes we're contemplate will affect content findability and with luck, usability. So we're not really changing for purely cosmetic reasons.

    Jo

  6. I honestly think you are over-thinking and over-hyping this change. That's coming from someone who changes themes, headers, custom images and featured images frequently.

  7. Here's hoping you're right. I didn't appreciate until I did my so-far minimalist test just how extreme and limited the narrowness of our current theme on our somewhat technical content.

    So the lesson I'm taking from you and auxclass is to plan and think through ahead of time. A lot of upfront work, but with luck, mostly behind the scenes.

    Thanks for reassuring words,
    Jo

  8. 1. Both Publicize and email notifications only should happen when you publish a new post. If you edit the post no email will be sent to your subscribers. There is, however, unless you have the Email Post Changes feature enabled (I checked and you do not). If you did it would send email every time a post was modified - but only to users of your choosing.

    If I make a new post, essentially a notice of site renovation, is there something I can tell the followers they can do to ignore or stop email for the duration?

    I would suggest not asking people to unsubscribe from notifications. It takes a lot of work to build up a following, and it would be a shame to potentially loose subscribers.

    So long as you do not publish and new posts, you can switch themes and customize with sending out notifications.

    If you do need to publish new posts during the transition, marking your blog to private for a short period of time should do the trick.

  9. Hi Michael, This is good to know, thanks. Maybe it would be good too for you to know that one time I did edit a previous post and the change went out on twitter through Publicize. I definitely didn't do it. It's good to know though that it was a glitch, that not supposed to happen like that.
    Jo

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