Guide to Using WordPress Themes

WordPress themes allow you to control the presentation of material on your WordPress website. Think of themes as “skins” for your blog. It’s an easy process to change between themes or to update existing theme files. Themes offer powerful control over the appearance of pages and categories in a blog, without the need to introduce changes to the underlying WordPress code.

A WordPress theme is nothing more than a collection of template files. Theme files are designed to produce a unified visual interface for a blog, based around a standardized layout. Theme files may include custom templates, images, style sheets, pages, and PHP code. All themes are delivered as a package of files.

WordPress supplies two theme packages in every standard installation. It is easy to switch between the two default themes using the WordPress Administration Panel. If you add themes to your WordPress installation, they will also appear as additional selections within the Administration Panel. If you are logged in as an administrator, look in the left column, under the “Appearance” menu for a “Themes” sub-menu. That’s where you manage all your themes.

Independent developers have created many additional WordPress themes. Some of these third-party themes are available for free download. The best place to find them is the WordPress Theme Directory, an officially designated site for independent themes. All files and templates in the Theme Directory are inspected for proper functionality and formatting. You can either browse the Theme Directory or search through the available themes by type and style. The Directory even provides previews of themes, so you can actually visualize them while you browse.

The WordPress Theme Directory URL is: http://wordpress.org/extend/themes/

The simplest means of installing themes is to use the WordPress Administration Panel. You can download and install themes directly from your site administration using these steps:

1. Log in as an administrator to your WordPress Administration Panel.
2. Look in the left column, and select the “Appearance” menu, and then the “Themes” sub-menu.
3. Select the “Install Themes” tab on the right.
4. Search for a theme based on a keyword, or use the filter options to narrow down the list of themes displayed as you browse.
5. Below every theme, there will be a “Preview” link to visually examine the layout and look of a selected theme.
6. There will also be an “Install” link below every listed theme, which allows you to upload and install a theme directly into your WordPress site.

You can install as many themes as you wish. Only one theme can be active at a time. Once you have installed additional themes, you can activate them on your site using these steps:

1. Log in as an administrator to the WordPress Administration Panel.
2. Select the “Appearance” menu from the left column, and then the “Themes” sub-menu.
3. Select the “Manage Themes” tab.
4. From the “Available Themes” section, use the “Preview” link first, to test how a given theme will behave with your site. If the preview is blank, do not install the theme.
5. Activate your chosen theme by clicking the “Activate” link below it.

Your selection immediately becomes active. Navigate to the website in another browser window, and you can immediately see how your blog appears using the new theme. If you want to revert to the previous theme, simply click the “Activate” link located below the previously active theme.

If you choose to download and install an independent theme, read and follow all theme-specific installation instructions. Theme developers are asked to provide installation instructions for themes they contribute to the Theme Directory. Many themes provide optional, special functionality, which may require additional installation steps beyond the basics.

There should be contact information for the developer of every theme in the WordPress Theme Directory. If your chosen theme does not work after following all the instructions, it’s best to contact the theme’s author for further help.