After the initial excitement at installing WordPress on your website, you may find yourself feeling a tad disappointed when you view your site and realise that it looks, well, boring. Let’s face it: the default visual appearance (or theme) that comes with WordPress may be functional, but it’s hardly what you’d call inspiring. In fact, a better description of it would be devoid of personality.
Never fear, your site is not doomed to a lifetime of blandness. Let’s take a look at how to install a new WordPress theme that has a little more style and flair.
A couple of caveats before we begin:
- This tutorial refers to installing a theme on a self-hosted WordPress blog (www.wordpress.org), not the free version at www.wordpress.com.
- This guide covers installing a WordPress theme out of the box, as it were. In other words, it doesn’t cover making personalised customisations to a theme. All themes can be customised – some offer basic customisations (e.g. changing the colour scheme, or using a custom header image) as part of the theme options, while others require knowledge of CSS and HTML (and sometimes PHP depending on how much customisation you require) to make any changes to the look and feel. Teaching CSS, HTML and PHP is beyond the scope of this blog. If you want to learn these languages, I’d suggest starting with the tutorials at W3Schools.
Okay, on to the tutorial!
You have two options when it comes to installing a new WordPress theme:
Option 1: Install a new theme from your WordPress dashboard
Log in to WordPress by going to www.yourdomainname.com/wp-admin. Enter the username and password that you chose when you installed WordPress on your site.
In the sidebar on the left hand side of the page, click on Appearance and then on Add New Themes.
The default setting for this page is the Search option. Either enter a search term in the box available and click Search or use WordPress’ Feature Filter to select those features you want in a theme and click Find Theme below the list of options. You can select multiple features, but just be aware that the more features you select, the fewer results will be returned as you’re narrowing the field of themes that meet all those criteria.
When the search results are returned, you can preview each theme by clicking the Preview link below each theme’s screenshot. When you’re done looking at the larger version of the theme, simply click the X in the top left corner of the pop-up to close it and return to the search results.
Once you’ve found the theme that you’d like to install, click the Install link underneath the theme’s screenshot (to the left of the Preview link). When the install screen pops up, click the Install Now button.
On the next screen, click Activate if you’re ready to start using your new theme immediately.
Option 2: Install a theme you’ve downloaded from the Internet
Instead of searching for a theme via your WordPress dashboard, you may want to browse through all the themes (over a thousand!) on the WordPress website itself, or search Google for free or premium (i.e paid for) WordPress themes that you can download.
When you’ve found the theme you like, download it using the download link provided on the website from which you’re getting the theme. The theme should come as a .zip file (meaning that all the individual files making up the theme have been compressed into one smaller file to make transferring it easier). Do not unzip the file and extract the component files – WordPress will do this for you. Just save the file to your computer as is.
Once you’ve downloaded the theme, log in to your WordPress dashboard. Go to Appearance and then Add New Themes, as in Option 1 above, but this time click on the Upload option in the menu at the top of the page.
Click on the Browse button, find the theme .zip file you downloaded earlier, click on it and click on Open. Then click on .
As with Option 1 above, on the next screen you can click on Activate if you’re ready to start using your new theme immediately.
Changing your WordPress theme
If you change your mind about the look and feel of your website and consequently want to swap your theme for another that you’ve already installed using one of the two options above, you can do so by going to Appearance, then Themes.
This will show you all the themes that you’ve installed and which are available for you to use on your site. Using the links below each theme’s screenshot, you can preview each theme, activate it if you want to use it on your site, or delete it if you decide that that particular theme is just not for you any more.