It had been a while since I’d updated the Avada theme that this website uses and it seems the longer you leave it, the more there is to consider – what will I need to backup, what about WordPress versions, what about my plugins etc?

Anyway, I finally took the plunge today and my website is now back up and running with the latest versions of Avada 3.4.3 and WordPress 3.9 – all seems ok so far, after some tweaks here and there.

Below I’ll detail the steps I went through, in the hope in helps someone else in the same situation:

1) First of all, I checked out the following URLs which Avada support advised me to look at before upgrading:

2) Downloaded the latest Avada theme files, version 3.4.3

3) Backups

I made sure I had backups of the following:

  • Avada theme folder at wp_content > themes – I used FileZilla to download this to my iMac
  • Revolution Slider – used the Edit CSS File option and copied and pasted the CSS to a text file.
  • Avada theme options – backed them up, by copying them into a text file
  • Google Analytics Tracking Code – backed this up from the Theme options, into a text file
  • As for a complete site backup, I’ve been playing around with trying to get BackupBuddy to work properly – without luck so far, in terms of a Full Backup – but did manage to get it to backup my site’s database and also the content in 3 separate backups. Therefore, I hopefully had a fullback if it all went tits up – as this is my business site, I obviously want as little downtime as possible.
  • 4) Took some screenshots of the main pages of my website, so I had a definite reference point after the upgrade. I used the Chrome screenshot tool as this allows you to take the whole page in one go – when it works.

    Now at the actual upgrade point…

    5) Within WordPress/Appearance/Themes, de-activated Avada theme, made a different theme the current one and deleted the Avada theme. Then updated the Avada theme to 3.4.3 by uploading the relevant ZIP file via WordPress. This unexpectedly worked ok first time – there are often issues where the process drops out at some point.

    6) Updated WordPress to current version, 3.9. During this process, the site is in Maintenance Mode.
    At one point the screen went blank/white and I thought something had gone wrong, but it worked when I tried to access the URL again.

    7) Initial viewing of the homepage was not good – no sliders, shortcodes not working etc. So I then turned on the plugin Ultimate Maintenance Mode, to give me time to sort it out and let website users that the site was in Maintenance Mode and that there’d be a tweet on @PatWalshLondon when the site was backup.

    8) I pasted in the Avada theme options that I had made a copy of.

    9) The next step – as the Avada theme prompts you to do – then sorted out most of the problems I was seeing in the site.

    10) Installed Fusion Core plugin and Revolution Slider plugin, and then Activated them. The lack of these plugins was causing most of the problems I had seen on the homepage and elsewhere.

    11) Had a quick look through the site and everything was now appearing more normal – sliders were there, content was laid out properly.

    12) I noticed the logo wasn’t there, so uploaded it again, set the header to use Header Type 5 again and set the logo to appear in the centre.

    13) I also noticed the footer was nowhere to be seen. I then realised I had probably pasted in the Avada theme options without then saving them – doh! – so did that and the footer then appeared.

    14) I noticed some other smaller issues, which I fixed as follows:

  • I had to change the default colouring back to the colour I use, rather than the green it had used.
  • The menu fonts were looking small and thin, so I made some changes around that and even chose a different font altogether from the previous one used, now using a Google Font, which works quite well.
  • Social Media – I had to re-enter all the Social Media URLs again, so that widgets connect up to my Social Media accounts.
  • Footer – I had to change this from 4 columns to 3 columns, which is what I was using.
  • Footer Copyright Bar – I had to recreate this, as it had been overwritten with the default Avada use.
  • Email address that contact messages are sent to – I had to re-enter this in the Theme options, as it was showing as blank.
  • I turned off the Search icon which had been added to the Menu options.
  • In Extras – Testimonials – I had to set this to 8000 as it was as 4000.
  • For Portfolio to work again, with my custom portfolio slug, I had to redo the Permalinks in Settings to make sure they worked again.
  • 15) At this stage, everything was looking good, so I did some tests on the other main browsers and also some quick tests on iPad Mini and iPad Air – all looking ok.

    All in all, this took around 3 hours. I then took some extra time to update all the sliders on the site, so the site wasn’t actually up and running until 4 pm, about 5 hours for the upgrades and my updates to the sliders.

    Very useful Avada documentation link – for shortcodes and their options: