One of the things that really makes WordPress stand out is how easy it is to add a layout that really fits both the unique needs and style of every user.
Let’s be honest. No one want’s a site that looks just like everyone else’s, and not everyone needs a site that behaves like everyone else’s.
Some of us need a simple, black and white blog with minimal graphics and a focus on the content. Others need a place to showcase photographs and artwork, with a custom header image. Some sites are designed to be eye catching and visually engaging, with intricate backgrounds and brightly colored text.
WordPress themes are what make it possible to satisfy all of these unique needs, and still allow for additional customization whenever needed – but the first step is finding and installing a theme, so here we go!
Finding A Good Theme
There are actually a lot of different places to find a good theme. For starters, you can run a search from your WordPress dashboard by opening “Themes” from the Appearance Module.
Next to the title “Manage Themes” you’ll see a super convenient “Add New” button. Clicking on that will bring you to the theme installation page.
From this page you’ll be able to perform a search of the different themes in the WordPress theme directory (which you can also do at WordPress.org, but you’d need to download the theme to your computer that way. We’ll cover more of that in a moment.
To find a theme you like, try selecting different options from the provided check boxes. You can specify criteria like color, number of columns, theme options and features. You can also add a keyword to narrow your results.
Obviously, the more specific your search is, the fewer results you’ll get. If you don’t find what you’re looking for right away, try removing some of your criteria to broaden the search.
Uploading Themes From Your Computer
In addition to searching directly from your dashboard, you can also search on WordPress.org for new themes. If you don’t find what you need there, you can always turn to Google, and search for WordPress themes.
In addition to the plethora of free themes available, you can also look into some of the premium themes out there, which generally have more options and features built into theme – which can decrease the number of plugins or customizations you’ll find yourself looking for in the future.
In any event, if you should find the perfect theme somewhere on the web, you’ll need to upload it to your blog. In the old days, this could only be done with an FTP client (which is still an option, and we’ll cover it in a moment).
In more recent versions of WordPress, an entire theme can be uploaded in
.zip format (which usually how they are downloaded), right from your WordPress dashboard.
To upload themes you’ve saved on your hard drive, navigate to the Install Themes page we were on earlier. This time, rather than performing a search, you’re going to look for the row of links just below the page title.
The current page, “Search” will be displayed in bold. Next to that, you’ll see an option for “Upload,” as well as a few other links to view featured, new, and recently updated themes.
Clicking the Upload link will present you with a page where you can specify the path to the
.zip file on your computer. You can type it manually, or use the “browse” button.
Once you’ve selected the theme on your computer, just click the “Install Now” button, and watch the magic! Once the theme is installed you can activate it by clicking on the provided link. Done!
Using an FTP Client To Upload A Theme
If you want to use an FTP client, rather than one of the built in methods above, odds are you know how these programs work, so I won’t go into a long drawn out explanation of it here. 🙂
All you really need to know is that your themes should be uploaded into the (drum-roll, please…) Themes folder of your WordPress installations.
The Themes folder can be found within the
wp-content folder. For most sites, this is in the root of your domain, unless of course you installed WordPress in a subdirectory.
If you go the FTP route, you’ll need to extract the .zip file before uploading the theme. As soon as the upload is done, you can pull up the Manage Themes page, and you’re new theme will be there waiting, ready to be activated!
Previewing and Activating Themes
Okay, now you know where to find themes, and how to get them on your site. All that’s left is putting them in action!
On the Manage Themes page, you’ll see your current theme displayed at the top of the page, with all of the other themes you’ve installed down below.
You can preview any of these by using the provided “Preview” link. This will open a window that displays your actual blog, with your actual content in that theme – so you know EXACTLY how it’s going to look!
When you’re ready to activate a new theme, you can do so with the (you guessed it!) “Activate” link beneath that theme’s description.
There’s also an activation link in the upper right hand corner of the preview window.
So that’s pretty much it! WordPress does a fantastic job of making it easy and painless to manage different themes, so to be honest, the hardest part is usually finding the one that fits your still perfectly!