What are themes on WordPress?

Themes control the look and feel of your website. Themes are created by designers to allow you to pop in your content and end up with an aesthetically pleasing, professional-looking site (without knowing a single bit of code). Themes dictate the color of the site, the layout, location of header, font size and color, look and feel of the menu, location and availability of widgets, etc. Something to keep in mind, is that some themes allow you to easily make changes to aspects of the design and some do not. The process of finding and applying a theme is quite simple, however, selecting a theme can be quite time consuming since there are thousands to choose from!

How To Use Themes on WordPress Websites:

Step One

Finding The Appearance Tab

Theming options can be found under the “Appearance” tab on your WordPress Dashboard. The first page of the Appearance tab will show all of the themes you currently have installed in the site and which theme is currently active on the site itself.

Illustration of the Appearance Tab in a WordPress Dashboard

Step Two

Finding The “Add New Theme” or “Add New” Buttons

To add a new theme to your site simply press on the “Add New Theme” placeholder square at the bottom of your installed themes list or go up to the top left hand corner of the page and click the “Add New” button.

Illustration of the highlighted locations for finding a new theme

Step Three

Previewing and Installing Themes

There are thousands of free themes to choose from and clicking on the theme’s preview card will allow you to take a look at the theme before you install it. To install a theme you like, just hover over the theme’s preview card and click the “Install” button in its lower right hand corner. This will install the theme into your site but you will have to choose and customize it to publish the theme into your live website.

Animated example of installing a new theme

Step Four

Live Previews

Once you have installed your theme, you can head back to the “Themes” page (the Appearance tab home page) and begin to mount it to your live website. Hovering your mouse over the new theme preview card will reveal two buttons labeled “Activate” and “Live Preview”. Clicking on the “Live Preview” button will open up the theme editor that will allow you to view the theme on your site and edit the theme to your liking before publishing to your live website.

Animated example of

Step Five

Customization and Publishing

Customization options vary between each theme and original theme creator. When customizing basic themes, each should at least allow you to change simple things like website colors, menu organization, site identity (title and tagline of site), and various other formatting options. When you are done customizing a theme, you can click the “Activate & Publish” button on the top left hand side of the screen to push the theme into your live website or close the customizer with the “x” button in the top left hand corner of the screen to leave the theme and your site unchanged.

Illustration of theme specific customization options

Posts vs Pages Video

Click the play button to watch a video guide on the step we just covered!

Additional Resources

en_USEnglish (United States)
en_USEnglish (United States)