In the past few years, WordPress has evolved from a platform simply used for blogging, into one that is arguably the most intuitive and functional content management system on the market. For anyone looking to create a website today, WordPress is the go-to software. Not only can it be installed in seconds on your domain using the 1-Click feature, it is packed with a vast range of plugins and themes that can help mould your website in to something that is unique.
Themes are, of course, a major part of any WordPress site and there are literally thousands of them from which to choose. Once you have the WP software installed, the theme is where the designing of your website will begin, but how exactly do you install your chosen template?
Installing a default WordPress theme
WordPress themes are a way to give your website a new “skin,” although, they offer much more than purely aesthetic benefits, allowing you to control the entire presentation of the website. A WordPress theme is created using a collection of files known as template files. These make up the graphical interface of the blog, changing the way the webpage looks without making any modifications to the software.
When you install the WordPress software on your domain, the default settings will give you a couple of themes to choose from: the Twenty Twelve Theme and the Twenty Eleven Theme. You can find these themes by logging in to your WordPress Administration area under Appearance > Themes.
To install either of these themes, simply click on Activate.
If you’re using WordPress for the first time, the Twenty Twelve and Twenty Eleven themes are a good place to start and learn about customising a website. If you want to start playing around with one of these themes, but don’t want it to go live, I would recommend downloading a program called Instant WordPress.
Instant WP is a standalone portable WordPress development environment that installs the WordPress software locally on your Windows machine. This is a great way to test themes and plugins for new WP upgrades and is very easy to use.
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Both the Twenty Twelve and Twenty Eleven themes include dozens of features and are fully responsive; however, while they are stylish, you may find them a bit plain for your site. What’s more, they are tremendously popular, so if you’re looking for something that makes your website look unique, you’ll probably be better served by searching for something different.
Installing a theme from the WordPress Theme Directory
To find a vast range of themes that have been checked and inspected, you can head over to the official WordPress Themes Directory. The themes here are free to download and you can search by type and style to find something that meets your needs. All the themes also offer a demonstration of how the page looks on a web browser, which can help you in making your decision.
To install a theme from the WP directory, you will first need to download it to your local machine by clicking on the download button next to the theme description. Once you have the file saved on your local hard drive, you can upload it to your themes directory. There are two ways of going about this:
- If your theme is in .zip format, you can go to Appearance > Themes > Install Themes, locate the folder and extract it online, or
- You can extract the file in your computer and upload it in the ‘wp-content/themes’ directory provided by WordPress using an FTP (File Transfer Protocol) client.
At the time of writing, there is over 1,600 themes in the WordPress Themes Directory – clearly no shortage of choice; however, there has also been over 63.1 million downloads so you should expect a fair few people to have the same theme as you!
Installing themes using the Administration panel
An easy way to find a new theme for your site is to use the Administration panel. Select Appearance > Themes and then choose the ‘Install Themes’ menu. From here, you can find a theme based on specific features such as colours, columns, width, and subject. You can also browse through newly listed and updated themes and click ‘Install Now’ to upload it on to your site. This is an easy way to find a new theme, but it is worth bearing in mind that all the themes featured here are from the WordPress Themes Directory.
Installing WordPress themes from other developers
The WordPress content management system is the most popular in the world, which naturally makes WP themes big business. Everyone wants to have a theme that is different from other websites, and fortunately, there is enough to go around. A quick search on Google for WordPress themes will provide you with a myriad of websites offering themes of all kinds; some of these will be premium but there are plenty of others that are available for free.
A good advantage of premium themes is that they usually come with a great range of options in terms of features and better support than the free offerings. Many free themes will also come with an upgrade option, allowing you to upscale to the premium offering without having to install a new theme.
Theme developers will usually provide their own downloading instructions, but the process of installing the template on to WordPress will be the same as the installation of a theme from the WP directory.
WordPress themes are widely available and, on many occasions, free to download, this will allow you to install and experiment with many different templates until you find one with which you are satisfied. These instructions will help get the theme you like on your site and ready to use.