Before switching to a new theme, it is pretty common for bloggers to spend some time in a test environment making sure everything looks and is working correctly before using the theme on their live blog. This will help you to avoid any problems and also hopefully not cause any inconveniences to your readers by making changes on your live blog.
How To Setup a Test Blog
This can be done a number of ways, but probably the easiest way is to build a directory on one of your domain names and install WordPress on it. From there, the first thing I do is go in and adjust the settings in WordPress to not allow search engines to index the directory and prevent pings from being sent when posts are published/edited. This should avoid anyone finding it short of typing the directory URL into their web browser.
Once you’ve got that setup, you’ll then want to import some posts. Unfortunately it can be a pain trying to find posts that have what you need to do accurate testing (blockquotes, code samples, unordered and ordered lists, comment samples, etc.). Recently our friends over at WPCandy provided a great solution to this problem with their sample post collection. You can go there and download the file and then import it into your blank WordPress installation to get a good sampling of posts for your testing purposes. It includes:
- Multiple posts with different elements in each
- Blockquotes, lists – ordered and unordered – and floating images
- Parent, child, and grandchild categories and pages
- Multiple months for the archives
Once you’ve got everything imported, you’ll want to upload the plugins you use regularly across all your blogs and activate them and then start testing!