Choosing and installing a WordPress theme

Last updated Jul 20, 2020

A WordPress theme provides the overall style of your WordPress site. Many people think of it as a template, or a skin. It usually influences fonts, colours, page layouts, and sometimes much much more.

Free vs Paid WordPress Themes

There are literally thousands of free themes to choose from in the WordPress Theme Directory and many of these are very good, and can provide a good springboard for your first site.

There is also the option to use a premium theme, and I choose to use these because they often (although not always) have reliable code, and offer a good support forum for questions you may come up against during the build process (eg. how do I change the colour of my navigational text), or if something goes wrong.

As with everything I sign up to, I try out the support mechanism before I purchase or commit.

How do I choose a WordPress Theme?

I talk more about what you should look out for in WordPress themes in a post which I wrote earlier this year, so head over and read some of the factors that should influence your decision.

In summary though, the fact that WordPress is used in such a broad range of industries, means that themes cater to vastly different markets.

It therefore follows that the theme you choose should be relevant to your industry/audience. You can imagine that a theme designed to sell children’s books, may be totally inappropriate for an upmarket restaurant. Or a theme created with a business coach in mind, may be wholly unsuitable for a dog training organisation.

Many WordPress themes come with a huge array of customisation options. Whilst appealing, these options may mean that it can be difficult to switch themes in the future, or to even use some plugins as they add complexity to the code.

Other themes that look terrific can slow your site down tremendously which may not only adversely affect the user experience, but can also impact your ranking on search engines.

With that being said, and you have an understanding of how important this choice is for you, I’m going to focus on how you install a WordPress theme.

Installing a free WordPress theme

Go to Appearance > Themes.

Here, you will see the currently active theme in the top left window of the page. You can select Add New to be taken to the index of free WordPress themes which you can scroll through.

WordPress Themes

When you’re selecting a theme, you can filter them by Featured, Popular, Latest and Favourites. It brings up a choice of several themes in each category.

Add Theme

Hovering over the thumbnail of a theme gives you an option to Preview it, or install it.

Theme details

Clicking the option to Preview, brings up more information about the theme, as well as reviews.

Theme preview

When you choose to install a theme, you need to activate it for it to become the active theme. When changing the theme, you should go back to the front end of your website, and see what the effect has been, as it will impact the whole style of your site.

Installing a premium WordPress theme

Go to Appearance > Themes.

Again, go to Add New, but this time, instead of choosing one of the themes available in the directory, you are going to Upload Theme.

When you purchased your theme, you should have been given the option to download a zipped folder with the theme files. It is this zipped folder that you upload.

Premium theme

Simply navigate to the zipped folder on your hard drive, and click on Install Now. Remember to activate it once it is installed.

There are many many premium themes which you can choose from. So don’t get overwhelmed…

The theme I recommend

When I first started running website creation courses, I showed students where they could search for a theme that worked for their requirements. What I found was that they would quickly become overwhelmed with the choices, and often the themes that they ultimately chose, weren’t flexible enough to customise in the way that they needed to. 

So now, I provide a lifetime license to Divi for all my students who join my Rock That Website program because it removes the overwhelm, and means I can fully support them with a theme and page builder which I know inside out and which I am using every day. 

I choose to use Divi on all my own sites and my clients sites, because it is so robust, offers fantastic flexibility of layout, and the updates are easy to maintain. This last point is really critical. I have worked with themes before where I have had to manually reinstall the updates, and not only is it time-consuming, there’s always a worry about it overwriting any customisations I have made. It should never be a concern, as I always use a child theme, but I still always find it slightly hair-raising.

Divi is a premium theme, so it does involve an investment, but for anyone who values their time, and wants to create a website which is easy for them to maintain, is going to work well for them from the outset, and has fabulous support, this is a great choice.

Vicky Etherington

Vicky Etherington has been running her own online marketing agency since 2003, and in 2014 transitioned to working with coaches and therapists to teach them how to create their own client-attracting websites. 

Become Part of
The WordPress Happy Community

Join 1600 other service-based entrepreneurs
who are empowering themselves to DIY their WordPress websites and online marketing with confidence.

If you want to accelerate your website journey, side-step all the tech meltdowns, and create your own  client-attracting website from scratch, join my Rock That Website. You’ll get a proven step-by-step roadmap to build your own successful site with confidence.

b
Posted in: Website tips
Tagged as: themes, Wordpress

Did you enjoy this?
Here are other articles you may like

What metrics should you track on your website?

What metrics should you track on your website?

In this two-part series, we are going to explore a topic some of you don’t like talking about at all: metrics.  Don’t click away because you’re already overwhelmed!  Metrics can seem complex at first, or maybe even unnecessary, but they are indispensable...

Setting up Google Analytics for Success

Setting up Google Analytics for Success

Without any kind of measure on our business, we're operating without any kind of navigation. For so many years, I did exactly this. Mainly because I didn't really know any better. But if I'm really honest, probably more so because I don't particularly like digging...

Creating an effective website plan for your success online

Creating an effective website plan for your success online

How to create an effective plan for your website You’ve done it!  You have taken the leap, and you’re all set up with a nice, shiny new website!  Now you can sit back, relax, and wait for your inbox to get flooded with people asking how they can work with...

Why I love WordPress

Why I love WordPress

I might be a website designer (I know we sometimes get a bad rap), but actually, I'm a WordPress designer. Because it's the only website platform I work with. And there’s a very straightforward reason for that: I love WordPress!   I’ve used other CMS and...

Join the Discussion

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin
Pocket
Share
Email
Tweet
Share