In this blog post, we answer three questions: what is a theme, where to find WordPress themes, how to install and activate a theme, and how to basically customize your WordPress themes. This post will provide you with very basic understandings of this concept, which is extremely important in designing a WordPress webpage.
Table of contents
- 1. What is a theme?
- 2. Where to find a suitable WordPress theme?
- 3. Three ways to install and activate a theme step by step
- 4. Basic theme customization
- 5. Video
In the last blog post, we finish installing WordPress on a localhost. In this post, we will discuss WordPress themes.
1. What is a theme?
A WordPress theme, like any blog themes that are offered on the market, provides a website with unique looks and feels. In WordPress, it plays a far more important role. Because of the diversity of categories, a WordPress theme is also the underlying engine in which the website works.
In my opinion, people use a WordPress theme for two purposes:
- They like the design of the theme and would like to apply that to their personal sites (1).
- They need the features that a theme offers (2).
Most of the case, the perfect theme is the one that fulfills both demands. While the theme that fits with (1) not all the time can offer (2), so maybe it is better looking for (2) when you want to purchase a theme.
An example of choosing themes
A bit confuse? Let’s take an example.
If I want to make a listing directory websites for real estates, I need to find a theme that includes basic and extended functions of a listing directory website. That means I would like my users to be able to find the locations on a map, to filter their search based on different criteria, to share on social media profiles. Also, the theme needs to have a page dedicated to listing authors information so that users can easily contact them, and so on.
In that case, a blog theme may never satisfy me. I can buy plugins to have these features mentioned above, but it takes a lot of time to test whether the plugins and the theme are not conflicted. And highly possible that I will mess everything up.
So, one simple solution is that: go to Google and type: “kind of website WordPress theme” (replace kind of website with your desire, e.g E-commerce, business listing directory, travel, etc.). You will find hundreds of recommendations for your type. Then you only need to choose the one that offers the design you like.
In short, features go first, designs come second.
2. Where to find a suitable WordPress theme?
You can get a theme in two ways:
- In the WordPress store. It will be at yoursite.domain/dashboard. After logging in, you will have access to the dashboard. Look to the left column, you will find Appearance/Themes. Adding a new theme will let you access to hundreds of beautiful themes, both free and paid.
- On the Internet, there are several great sources to purchase a theme, including ThemeForest and aThemes. Besides, there are many sites that advise great free and paid themes such as Colorlib. And you can access the theme through the links they offer (mainly going to the theme’s homepage). Most of the time I searched for a theme, I landed on these pages. Thumbs up for their SEO strategies!
3. Three ways to install and activate a theme step by step
3.1 Installing via WordPress on-page theme store
- Go to yoursite.domain/dashboard. You will be asked to log in and after filling the correct username and password, you will land on your project dashboard
- Look at the left dark column, find the label Appearance. Click Appearance/Themes. This will lead you to a page that lists all your current theme
- Click the button Add New. The page will then display a handful of themes in WordPress online store
- Hover the mouse over the theme you want to install. Click Install
- Click back to Appearance/Themes on the left column to see all current theme. Now the new theme supposes to be here. Click Activate.
3.2 Uploading a custom theme via WordPress Dashboard
This applies when you download a custom theme and it does not appear in the WordPress theme store. In this case, you will have a zip file downloaded to your computer.
Step 1, 2, 3: the same as step 1, 2, 3 in 3.1
4: Click Upload Theme next to the Add Themes title
5. Click Choose File
6. Browse to the location where you store the zip file downloaded. Choose it
7. Click Install Now
8. Go to Appearance/Themes and Activate the new theme the same way as step 5 in 3.1.
Notice: please remember to choose the zip file which contains only the theme code. Some theme downloads will contain also the child theme and documentation, etc. In that case, you need to unzip them first, then choose the zip theme file inside the unzipped folder.
Does it sound a bit complicated? Errors? Let’s use the third way.
3.3 Uploading a custom theme to WordPress directory
This will access the WordPress directory. This way, you need to:
- Unzip your theme because we will use the theme folder
- If you use localhost, you need to travel to C:/xampp/htdocs/your-wordpress-website-name in My Computer. If you use FTP, after log in, go to www folder (or your project name’s folder).
- Go to wp-content/themes/. This directory contains all current themes in your website. Copy and paste the theme folder that you unzip from Step 1 into this folder
- Go to Dashboard/Appearance/Themes and Activate the new theme the same way as step 5 in 3.1. If you don’t see the new theme in the list, simply hit F5 to refresh the page
Notes: in this case I use XAMPP. If you use an online hosting or another localhost, you should go to its own folder.
Important notes: Installing will add a theme to your site collection, while Activating applies it to the design of your website. That, simply means, the new theme is not alive until you activate it.
Please watch the video tutorial on this blog post to visually follow this.
4. Basic theme customization
Basic theme customization can be done by visiting Dashboard/Appearance/Customization. This will bring you to a live Customizer tool where you can modify your page and visually see the modification. You just spend some time playing around with it and explore new things about WordPress.
Important notes: Please remember to click Save and Publish button after you change something, or else, when you close the Customizer tool, every change will be erased.
In addition, WordPress 4.9 see an improvement with the Customizer tool with more interesting kinds of stuff. You can see the change from WPBeginner.
What do you think? Do you want to correct something? Any questions? Please leave your comment below.