How to Install a WordPress Theme

WordPress is the most popular Content Management System (CMS) in the world. It is used by millions of websites as a robust, high-performance platform for publishing all forms of content.

One of the advantages of using WordPress as your CMS, is that you will have access to thousands of plugins and themes, that will enable you to change the functionality and appearance of your website, simply and quickly.

This knowledge base article covers the process of installing and activating a new WordPress theme.

Step one – procure the theme and upload it to your website

  1. Find a theme you like and download it to your computer. The theme will be compressed as a .ZIP file.
  2. Decompress the .ZIP file. It will create a folder with the same name as the .ZIP file. Inside this folder, you will find all of to components of the theme. PHP code, images, scripts, etc.
  3. Upload this folder to your hosting account using FTP. The location that you need to upload it to, will depend on where you installed WordPress. Look under your /public_html/ folder, if you see a folder named wp-content, WordPress is installed in your root. If you don’t see this folder, you will need to locate the subfolder WordPress is installed in. Check each subfolder; you are looking for one that contains the wp-content folder. When you find it, drill down to the wp-content folder, and then the themes folder. You need to upload the folder that the theme decompressed into, to this folder. A typical folder structure, once you have completed this, would look this: /public_html/wp-content/themes/mynewtheme/

Step 2 – activating the new WordPress theme

  1. Log in to the WordPress administration dashboard at http://domainname/wordpressfolder/wp-admin/ if you installed WordPress outside of the /public_html/ folder or simply http://domainname/wp-admin/ if you did install WordPress in the /public_html/ itself.
  2. Click Appearance, in the menu on the left.
  3. You will now see all of the themes that you have available to use. Locate your new theme and click its Activate button.
  4. Your new theme will now be active. If you have any caching plugins activated, you may need to clear your site cache to see the new theme working.

Useful links:

The official WordPress Codex entry explaining themes and how they work

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