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How to install a WordPress Theme the right way?

Themes determine how content is displayed on your WordPress Powered website. They are simply HTML pages with specific PHP embedded code. A theme can be as simple as index.php page, or it might contain additional files linked to Posts, Pages, Archives & a number of included images (Leary, 2010).

WordPress is designed to let you switch themes without changing the underlying content. For the novice user, it is very easy to install a theme right from your site dashboard. WordPress Content Management System uses its powerful graphical interface to help you through the steps of installing a theme.

How to install a WordPress Theme?

In this tutorial, we will guide you through the steps of installing and activating a Theme on your WordPress Powered blog.

We can install a wordpress theme using any of following 3 methods:

  • Method 1: Locating Themes interface on your WordPress Site dashboard and then Installing a theme from WordPress Official Theme Directory. This step is ideal if you want to make use of free wordpress themes created by loyal wordpress developers and it is 100% free. This step would the fastest way for you to get started and is very easy to follow.
  • Method 2: Installing a downloaded theme from your local drive using Upload feature. This step is ideal if you downloaded a theme as a zip file from a popular theme provider.
  • Method 3: Installing a downloaded theme traditional way (FTP Upload). This is the least preferred method, but will be useful, if you don’t have a theme zip file or if Upload feature in method 2 does not work due to server getting timed out. This step involves using a FTP client to upload your theme to your server.

A strong and reliable web host can make sure your wordpress blog is available 24/7. BlueHost is a Good one and makes a great choice.


Method 1: Installing a theme from WordPress Official Theme Directory


Free and Beautiful WordPress themes can be located right from your WordPress DashBoard. Let us get started with Locating Themes menu on your WordPress dashboard. Follow steps below.
Steps:

  • Login to your wordpress site, and locate Dashboard. From your sidebar on left side, Click on Appearance.

Dashboard 1

  • Click on Appearance>>Themes. A list appears with all your current installed Themes, if you have any. To add or install a new theme, simply click on add new link. Basically, what we will do here is, search the WordPress Theme Directory for available Themes, select one , install and then Activate the Theme.

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Installing a theme from WordPress Official web directory

Steps:

  • Search and install a Theme from WP Official Theme Directory. This feature lets you search for themes in the WP directory and display them for you to install. The listing is huge with Featured, Popular, Latest themes so you would want to specify type of theme that suits your site for example, if your site is sporty, magazine etc, type “sporty” in the search text box. If you know the theme’s name, type that directly and search.

search

  • Redefine your search by accessing the *feature filter. It lets you put more advanced search criteria on your themes to choose the theme with the best matching criteria. It does so by enabling a search criteria of: Colours, Layout, Features and Subject

search criteria

  • Once you have selected a theme, Click install theme, then wait until the installation is complete. Then continue to Activate your Theme. Note:It will be a good practice to always preview themes before activating them. In case your site is already customized with widgets, plugins, headers, posts or pages, test the theme on your data by previewing it. Some themes may override your settings when activated.

 

install


Method 2: Installing a downloaded theme from your local drive using Upload feature


You can follow this method if you downloaded a theme as a zip file. Many premium theme providers create beautiful themes and let you download the theme as a zip file. Please follow steps below if this is the case.

Login to your wordpress site, and locate Dashboard. On the drop down menu, Click on Appearance.

Add New WordPress Theme

“Add New” WordPress Theme Step

Then click on Themes. You will now see Themes page. Click on Add New link

Click on “Upload Themes” . This feature allows you to upload your downloaded theme with .zip extension. After you click upload theme, a window is displayed for uploading the theme.

Upload A WordPress Theme

Upload A WordPress Theme

Click on the “browse” button and select the theme from your computer.

Upload WordPress Theme.  Select Zip File

Upload WordPress Theme. Select Zip File

Once you have located your zipped theme, click install now. Wait until installation is complete, Preview your theme and then Activate it. Optional step: Go on to customize the theme, if you would like.

Once you activated your theme, the blog will now reflect the theme design. This completes method 2.

If you looking for elegant and advanced themes, then Elegant themes would be a great place to find best ones.


Method 3: Installing a downloaded theme traditional way (FTP Upload)


There are times when you just don’t have a theme zip file or Upload feature in DashBoard does not work due to server getting timed out. Or sometimes, if you happen to your wordpress blog in a windows hosting plan, you might have issues. In these cases, this method will become handy.

FTP client

Basically, a FTP client lets you move files to your website Host. FTP Clients connect to the hosts by use of internet protocols (File Transfer Protocol) specifically for that purpose. Personally, i use “FileZilla FTP Client” and it works for me. FTP is insecure in that it transmits your password in plain text. The good news is that FileZilla supports FTP and SFTP and you can use these secure versions of FTP to transfer your files.

Steps to install a FTP Client(FileZilla – free):

fileZilla1

  • Run and install the software after the download is complete.
  • At the top, there is Host, Username, Password and Port.

Host is your internet company that hosts your blog or website. Some popular Hosting companies are BlueHost, Hostgator, Blue Host and Arvixe . Many Hosts can let you type your domain name instead of the host’s domain.

  • Username & Password. These are login details you use to communicate with the Host via FTP Client. Note: You can set your username and password after logging in to your host control panel.

I’ll use 1and1 FTP Account through the process, which is easy and strikingly similar in almost all the hosts mentioned above.

 

Setting up FTP Password and Username at 1and1 Host:

Steps:

  • Login to your host control panel. Scroll down until you see Hosting

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  • You will see your username, destination directory and description of the FTP account here. For security reasons, the password will not be displayed in the Control Panel. If you do not remember your password, it will have to be reset by following the next steps.

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  • Optional: If you have forgotten your password, you will have to reset it. To do so, click the edit button next to the account in question.

ftp cp3

  • Click ok to save your settings. Please take note of the password change as the current password will not be available via the Control Panel in the future.

Steps: Extracting & Uploading Themes via FTP:

The next step will be locating your downloaded Themes. Mostly the Themes are zipped therefore you’ll have to extract them in a separate folder.

  • Launch FileZilla, type your domain name in the Host textbox i.e. myblog.com, username and password you created above. Many Hosts enable port 3306 for FTP connections. Type the port although you can still leave this blank. Click “Quick Connect”.
  • After a successful connection, FileZilla opens in 2 split screens, Local & Remote Sites.

Local Site displays data from your local machine.

Remote Site displays data from your Host web space directory. You simply drag files across to the Remote Site folder of your choice and drop, and then wait until transfer is complete. You do so and vice versa to your local machine. You can as well delete files.

  • On the right, i.e. Remote Site, locate the directory where your WordPress blog is stored from the main directory. Click and open it.

WordPress has its files arranged in a special directory listing as:

wp-admin/., wp-content/, wp-includes/.

The folders to locate Themes and Plugins are wp-content/themes and wp-content/plugins respectively. Browse through to Themes folder and click to open. Now you’ll have all your themes in their folders.

  • Remember that folder you extracted your Themes in your local machine? Yes, now find it through your “local site” in FileZilla. Once you locate it, open to list all folders with the themes. All you need to do is drag a folder at a time, to the Remote site your themes folder, and drop. Do this for all the other folders, and you should have your themes ready for customization.
  • Now, i need you to login to your WordPress blog. Go to dashboard, under Appearance, you will see all your Themes in place. Click on each as you like, and preview all of them.

 

Note: If you had your blog customised already, automatic theme updates will overwrite your theme customizations, i.e. Header texts, Widgets etc. If you will always update your themes manually, go to Site Manager, Put Off “automatic theme updates”.

 Summary:

So there you go…If you are a beginner and want to get started fast, we recommend Method 1. Dont forget to leave your comments below.  Ciao!

For elegant and advanced themes,  Elegant themes would be a great place to find best ones.