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How to Install a WordPress Theme

Want to change the look of your website? WordPress has thousands of themes to choose from, and installing them isn’t difficult. Know how to install a WordPress theme from this simple guide.

Before You Install a Theme

When you install a theme, it is assumed that you already have 1) installed WordPress on your server and 2) known what a WordPress theme is.

Remember that a theme serves as the “skin” of your website. It provides your site’s appearance as well as its functions. But, not all themes have the same functions—features such as navigation menus and automatic feed links.

This is why planning or writing down first what you want to achieve from your site is helpful.

“It is not enough that we build products that function, that are understandable and usable, we also need to build products that bring joy and excitement, pleasure and fun, and, yes, beauty to people’s lives.” –Don Norman

How do you want your site to appeal to your users? What impression do you want to leave? What basic functions do you want available?

If you are planning to change to a new theme, WordPress has default themes that you can temporarily switch to as you make the change. In any case, always bear in mind that changing a theme means changing everything that exists on your site. This includes:

  • Custom menus
  • Widgets
  • Fonts
  • Post formats
  • Everything else

Some themes may have a different set of instructions from its author. Such theme may have special functions that you can install. For this, it is best to check first and ask help from the theme author when problems arise.

Install Free Themes

The WordPress Theme Directory contains both free and commercial themes. You can easily install them from your WordPress dashboard or admin area.

There are 2 ways to get started: you can choose to download the theme first from the directory or you can install it directly from your dashboard. Here’s how to install a theme from your WordPress dashboard:

  1. Login to your admin area and click Appearance at the left panel.
  2. Under Appearance, choose Themes. You will then be directed to a page where you can keep all your installed themes.
  3. Click the Add New button at the top, right beside the search box.
  4. Once clicked, you will find the Theme Directory where you’ll choose the theme you want. You can choose from different theme categories: Featured, Popular, Latest, or Favorites.
  5. You can also advance your search by clicking the Feature Filter button. Under Layout, Features, and/or Subject tabs, simply check the corresponding boxes of the features you want in a theme. Afterwards, click the Apply Filters button at the bottom to get your filtered list of choices.
    How to Install a Theme to Your WordPress SiteHow to Install a Theme to Your WordPress Site
  6. Once you’ve found a theme, hover on it and Preview it first to see if it can carry out the ideas or features you have in mind.
  7. If you like the theme, go ahead and click Install. WordPress will then install the theme to your site.
  8. You will see a success message afterwards.
  9. Simply click on the Activate option in the message, and voila! You have installed and activated the theme successfully in your WordPress website.

Install Premium Themes

For WordPress.org users, you can choose to install commercial or premium themes outside of WordPress. You can create your own theme as well.

In such cases, you will have to upload the theme you got from them. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Purchase and download the theme you like (in .zip file format) from the reliable source.
  2. Login to your admin area and click Appearance at the left panel.
  3. Under Appearance, choose Themes. You will then be directed to a page where you can keep all your installed themes.
  4. Click the Add New button at the top, right beside the search box.
  5. Once clicked, you will find the Theme Directory page. At the top, you’ll find the Upload Theme button. Simply click it.
  6. Afterwards, click on Choose File and upload the theme (in .zip file format).
  7. Once done, click Install Now.
  8. You will see a success message afterwards.
  9. Simply click on the Activate option in the message, and voila! You have installed and activated the theme successfully in your WordPress website.

Before following the instructions above, however, check first if your theme has some special features that would require you to install it in a different way. Be mindful of the information you receive from your theme provider.

Install through Your FTP Client

Installing from an FTP Client is an advanced way to get the theme you want for your WordPress website. It comes in handy especially when you encounter certain issues on your site and fail to access your dashboard.

FTP (File Transfer Protocol) allows you to transfer and configure files on a secure connection. Through it, you can also delete any corrupted files, plugins, etc. and keep your site in good shape.

Here’s how you download a theme:

  1. Download the theme from WordPress or from any reliable source.
  2. Extract the files from the compressed (.zip) folder.
  3. Login to your FTP and create a directory for your theme.
  4. Upload the individual files to the directory you created.
  5. Login to your WordPress admin area and click Appearance at the left panel.
  6. Under Appearance, choose Themes. You will then be directed to a page where you’ll see the theme you just installed.
  7. Hover on the theme and click the Live Preview button to see if it works. If you like what you see, you can go ahead and activate the theme in your site.
  8. Click the Activate button, and voila! You have successfully installed and activated the theme.

Security is Priority

Whenever you decide to install a theme, security should still be a priority. There are thousands of themes available, but it does not mean they’re all safe for you to use. Take time to browse through user reviews and ratings, or find help from experts.

A poorly coded theme can also hamper your site’s performance and security. As much as possible, use only those that come from reputable sources for WordPress. And, update your themes when necessary.

“At the end of the day, the goals are simple: safety and security.” -Jodi Rell

Designs are easy to choose and create when we know what we want to achieve. Users can enjoy the experience they get from features and appearance of your website. But when issues arise, one of the pleasures you can have is from knowing that it’s not caused by a flaw in security.

Themes are easy to install but can be challenging to maintain. The instructions above seek to provide you a simple WordPress guide. In any case, strive for the best possible solution to keep your website on the right track.

Tell us what you think! Write down a comment or suggestion on How to Install a WordPress Theme. We love hearing from you!


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