To change your site's design and structure without completely starting over, you can switch templates. You can install, preview, and switch templates at any time and as many times as you'd like. However, only one template will be live to visitors at a time.
After installing a new template, you'll preview it on your site to see how it looks with your content. During the preview, you can explore new layouts, colors, and features without changing the live template your visitors see. If you decide to make a switch, you can set it as your live template to make the changes visible to visitors.
When previewing a template:
- Your preview template is only visible to you when you're logged in.
- Visitors won't see your preview template.
- Certain changes display on your live site.
You can test any template without losing the design and layout changes saved to your other installed templates. For example, if your template is Bedford, and you test out Brine, when you switch back to Bedford you’ll see that template as you left it, unless you've deleted or moved content.
This guide is for version 7.0. If your site is on version 7.1, there's no need to switch templates.
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Before you begin
- It isn't possible to mix and match features from more than one template.
- Cover Pages use layouts rather than templates.
- In Developer Mode, you can't switch templates or receive updates to your site's template.
- Previewing a template may cause errors when logging in or connecting your domain. If you experience these issues, cancel the template preview.
- Most elements (such as text and images) will transfer to the new template. Some things (such as style settings and footer content) won't transfer. Learn more in What to expect.
What to expect
Preview templates to experiment with new layouts, colors, and features before publishing those changes.
Some changes affect your live site while previewing templates and transfer from template to template. Other changes are only visible in the preview until you publish the new template:
- Template-specific - These design and layout changes are specific to each template. You won't see the changes you made in one template appear on another. Visitors and contributors won't see these changes until you publish the new template. If you switch back to the previous template, the template-specific changes from that template will reappear.
- Not template-specific - These changes are specific to content. The content carries over when you switch templates. Visitors will see changes to these areas live on your site while previewing a template.
To prevent any changes from appearing on your live site before you're ready, only make template-specific changes. You can add new pages or duplicate pages to avoid recreating content. You can also view your site in incognito mode to see how your visitors view your site.
Some page types are only available in certain templates. If you switch to a template that doesn't support your page type:
- Index Page - The Index converts to a folder.
- Info Page - The Info Page won't display. If you're using an Info Page as the homepage, change your homepage to any other page type before switching templates. The Info Page will display again if you switch back to a template that supports it.
- Project Page - The Project Page converts to a Gallery Page.
Step 1 - Prepare for layout changes (optional)
Most of the content on your site will transfer from one template to the next. However, certain features are only supported in some templates. Before switching templates, we recommend reviewing what to expect in the section above.
If any of the following features are important for your site, consider picking a template that also supports them. Click the link to see which other templates support that feature:
Note: Sidebars, background images, and page headers reset in a new template. You'll need to re-add content in the new template for these areas. (You can always switch back to the old template temporarily to see your original content.)
Step 2 - Install a new template
- In the Home Menu, click Design, then click Template.
- Click Install New Template.
- Browse the templates. When you find one you like, hover over it and click the Start With button.
Tip: Click Preview to explore the template's demo site.
The template will now appear in your Template panel, below the live template.
Step 3 - Preview the template
When you’re ready to preview the template, hover over it, and then click Preview.
While logged in, you'll see the new template and these noticeable changes:
- The new template loads with a set of demo content to give you an example of the new template's structure and style options before viewing it with your custom content. These demo pages aren’t visible to your site visitors.
- Your site's existing pages move to the Not Linked section in the Pages panel. You can move these to Main Navigation as you set up the template.
Cancel the preview
To cancel the preview and go back to your live template, click Cancel Preview in the bottom bar.
Any changes you've made to this template will save.
Step 4 - Move your pages
To start editing your site in Preview Mode, in the Home Menu, click Pages.
- Your pages have moved to the Not Linked section.
- Your Main Navigation now contains the template's demo content from our designers to illustrate the template’s features. It isn't visible to visitors.
Remove the demo content and move your pages from the Not Linked section to the other navigation areas. Visitors won't see these changes until you publish the template.
Tip: If you see a "We couldn't find the page you were looking for" message, ensure you set a homepage.
Note: We don't recommend deleting pages in preview mode, as this can affect your live site. Instead, move them to the Not Linked section until you're ready to publish the new template.
Step 5 - Style the template
Use Site Styles to edit the template’s design, including fonts, colors, backgrounds, and padding. Each template has its own styling options, so some of the options will be different from your previous template.
We recommend playing with Site Styles until you find a design you like. Visitors won't see these changes until you publish the template.
Step 6 - Publish the template
When you’re ready to set the template as your site’s new look:
- On any page of your site, click Set As Live Template in the bottom bar.
- Click Confirm in the warning message that appears.
Your new template is now live on your site and visible to visitors.
Install more templates
Repeat the steps above to install, preview, and edit additional templates. You can install as many different templates as you want, but you can only install one of each template.
Uninstall a template
You can uninstall a template to remove it from the Templates tab. When you uninstall a template, any template-specific changes you made, such as styles, navigation order, sidebars, and footer content, will be permanently deleted.
- Return to the Template panel.
- If the template is set live on your site, set a different template live. You can’t uninstall a live template.
- Hover over the template, and click Uninstall.
- Click Confirm in the message that appears.
Languages and template switching
When you click Install New Template, the templates you see depend on your site's Language setting. For example, if your site language is set to French, you'll see the French template store, which has a curated selection of templates with French demo text.
All templates in our non-English template stores are in the Brine template family. This is currently the only family that supports non-English languages.
To switch to a template outside the Brine family, change your site language to English. This will change your site's built-in text that visitors see, like dates, form field labels, and navigation controls.
Managing multiple templates
Use these tips when you've installed multiple templates on your site.
See which template you've installed
The template that's currently live on your site is at the top of Template panel. It has a Live label next to its name.
If you're previewing another template, that template has a Previewing label on it in the Template panel. When you’re logged in, you'll also see a bottom bar that shows the previewed template's name.
Find an installed template
If you've installed multiple templates, use this tip to navigate to any one:
- While in the Template panel, use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + F (Command + F on a Mac) to display the browser's search bar.
- Enter the name of the template you're looking for. The panel will scroll to that template.
Navigate between panels
To move between panels, for example between the Template, Site Styles, and Pages panels, you can use the ? keyboard shortcut. This can be helpful when experimenting with how different templates look on your site.
Previewing and playing around with a template is the best way to learn how it works. However, we have resources to help get you started: