What is a theme anyway?
A theme is basically the “skin” or the “clothing” that you put on your website. It’s the layout. It’s the design. It’s how many columns you have. It’s the sidebars and widgets. It’s how the header or featured slider is presented. It’s the design foundation of your website and how it looks.
These are all important considerations because visual appeal and a website’s ease of use has a lot to do with a person’s buying habits.
At the same time though, it’s important though that you don’t allow choosing a theme to take up a lot of your time. I can tell you from experience that if you don’t know what you’re looking for when trying to select a theme it can end up taking hours of scrolling and blindly searching for something you’re not even really sure of.
When you get overly stuck on one part such as this it uses up a lot of your energy.
My goal is to help you be able select a theme reasonably quickly and get on to the more fun side of building your website. The theme can always be changed at any point in the future if you decide you don’t like it later on after you’ve been working with it for a while.
Where to Find Themes
Many themes can be found right within your WordPress dashboard. All of the themes available here are free. You will be able to install and activate them on your site easily without any complicated steps.
First click Appearance and then Themes.
It’s important to note though that in the big picture not all themes are free. Some of them can be quite costly depending on how complex they are and what you plant to do with them, but for right now we’ll keep it simple and stick with the free themes.
How to Install a Theme
After you click the themes button in the left side menu of your WordPress dashboard under the “Appearances” tab, you’ll go to a page where you’ll see a few themes.
These are the themes that are installed on your website at this time, beginning with the one that is currently activated.
It’s perfectly ok to use the default theme that WordPress installs automatically, such as “Twenty Fifteen” or “Twenty Fourteen”. However, most people will want to put more of a stamp of uniqueness on their site by selecting a different theme.
This is what it looks like on the installed themes page:
In the screenshot here you can see that it’s the Weaver II theme that’s activated. This is indicated by the red bar at the bottom of the preview snippet. The two on the right are installed on your site but not activated.
Adding New Themes
If you don’t want to use the themes that are already installed on your website, you can look for a new one by clicking the “Add New” button that’s right at the top beside the word “Themes”.
When you click the Add New button you’ll see this screen next:
This is where the time begins to drain away if you’re not careful. When you start scrolling through the “Featured”, “Popular” and “Latest” categories of available themes it’ll become irresistible to look at the next page…and the next page…and the next page.
There’s also a link called “Feature Filter” on the right hand end of the menu on the Add Themes page.
This is where you can select one or more certain features that you want on your site. The system will then list only the themes with those characteristics.
Using this filter can save you hours of time, but on the other hand as mentioned earlier that if you don’t know what you are looking for, then even the feature filter can end up eating away too much of your time.
At any point you as you hover your cursor over a theme, it’ll show some further options. They are “Detail & Preview” , “Install” and “Preview”.
It’ll look a lot like the image below.
When you’re on the “Details & Preview” screen and you’ve found a theme you think you might like then the next step is to click the red “Install” button.
My best recommendation is to pick a general theme that looks good but not too overly complicated if you are just starting out. Once you get into setting up that theme, you’ll be able to tell really quickly if you like it or not.
It’s only a bit of time and experience working with many different themes that will lead to one that you really like and will end up staying with for the long term.
Once you’ve installed your chosen theme, you’ll have to spend some time configuring the it and setting all the different display controls. It does take a bit of time to do this but it’s all part of the big picture on the road to your beautiful website.
Every theme has different configuration settings and set up, so it’s just a matter of getting into it and learning your particular theme.
It’s an amazing feeling of pride you’ll have in accomplishing the beginning stages of your website set up. Congratulations!
Let me know if you need further help in selecting a theme, leave a comment below.
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