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1: Installing Your Theme

Running Time:  10:45

One of the great things about using a free WP theme (and there are thousands to choose from) is that you don’t have to shell out bucks to play with it and see how it will work for your site.

I show you the 2 ways to get any theme into your site. The first is to use Appearance > Themes in your WP Admin, then use browse or search to get your theme. The other is to use the Plugin Directory at In that case you’ll need to download the theme first and then upload it to your site.

Learn how to install a theme with both methods. It will come in handy especially if you purchase a theme. In that case you will have to use the second (download and install) option.

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Transcript Of This Video

One of the most important components of any WordPress site is the theme that you use. A theme is responsible for the look and feel of your site. It’s the art direction, the layout, the topography, the color that you see, and all of your pages. It also accounts for some of the functions and features that are built into your site as well. For the site that I’m building, I’m using the 2017 WordPress theme. It’s a stock theme. It’s really good, but there are certainly other themes I could use, and in fact, there are about 5,000 free themes I can choose from. So, let’s take a look.

I’m going to go over here to my dashboard. I’m going to go into “Appearance,” “Themes.” Like I said the 2017 theme is the one I’m using, it’s the active theme, these are two other themes that are inactive and if I wanted to make one of these active I would click on this or I could read a description of what this theme is all about too. I’d click on the word “Activate,” and everything would be activated. So, I’m just going to close that. To find a theme and then to install it I could either go to here, or I could go over here, and if I click on either one of those, it’ll take me to this page about adding a theme. If I go across the top over here, I see “Featured,” I see “Popular” themes. I see the “Latest” themes, I see “Favorite” themes. I don’t have any favorite themes. That is, I haven’t designated any themes as favorites. We have “Feature filter,” which I find useful because you can do your search that way. So I’m going to choose a three column layout, you can see these are the layout options over here. I can also multiple choose if I want– I want to keep it to three columns. Here are the different features that I could be looking for my site, and I’m going to pick a theme that deals with education because that’s what I do. That’s good. I’m going to now do a filtered search, and this is the theme I want. Before I do that I should also point out that if you know the name of the theme that you want to use, you could always click on here and put in the name. But a lot of people don’t know the name of the theme, especially when they’re starting out. So this is the better approach. If I wanted to do a little quick look, I could do a preview, which gives me a rough idea of what this theme is going to look like. I’m not crazy about the preview, but like I said it gives you an idea. You’re going to have a header image and sidebars, and so forth. OK, so what I want to do now is go back to where I was. I could check other themes as well, but I like this one, so now I’m going to install it. It’s pretty simple. Just click on the word “Install,” and when that’s done, it’s going to leave me with “Activate.” I don’t want to activate it right now, and I want to show you something before I do that. I could activate it straight from there, but notice here is my theme that I’ve just added, but it is not the active theme.

To make it the active theme I’m just going to click on the “Activate” button. Now it occupies the “Active” spot. Let’s go take a look at what happened here. Perfect, it’s totally different. That’s the whole point. When you change a theme, it’s sort of like changing the skin on something, and everything is going to be different. The colors. the topography. the layout. the backgrounds. Everything is going to be different. Of course, the content that I’ve already added, the home page and so forth and the image, that’s all going to stay the same. But look at this– This menu is way out of whack. This is not what I had. One of the little tripping points a lot of people have with WordPress when they change themes is they forget to do something. What you’re going to need to do is go over to “Menus,” and then go over to “Manage locations.” Now, this theme has three different locations for a menu, not like 2017, which had two different locations.

What I’m going to do here is select a location. It turns out I know from experimentation before I started doing this that it’s the bottom menu or the main location. OK, and with that in mind here’s my menu. Remember my menu I setup already, “Home” “Prep” “Plant” etc. and now the order will be restored. I like that, and order will be restored to my navigation. I have the drop down, and I have the blog, I have everything the way I had it before. Again, all the content that I’ve already added, it stayed the same with my tiller image and my content is perfect. Like I said, it’s like changing the skin, if you will, of your site. That’s one way to install a theme or to find a theme and then install it, and that’s perfectly fine. It’s convenient. Another way to do this is to go to, and you can find basically the same themes there. You might want to do it this way. I’m going to choose– Here we have very similar options over here. If I went to here, let’s choose a totally different setup. Now let’s do a grid layout, and I’m not going to make any other choice but that.

What I will do is– Let’s apply the filter. Let’s go choose one. You can only choose one at a time, so let’s do that. What I like about this before I download anything, I’m just going to click on this, and it takes me to the themes page and the theme directory in This is handy. This will give me a lot more information than if I went through my WP admin like I just did a little bit ago, and here I can read some information, and what I like about this is if there’s any ratings or when it was last updated it doesn’t seem like there are very many active installations so it’s probably– It’s definitely not been used all that much, but maybe I’m just going to experiment with my site. What I’ll do is I will download this theme, and by downloading it in my case what I’m going to be doing is just saving a zip file that has all the files contained in my theme.

I’m going to download that, and it’s going to go onto my desktop. OK, good. Now I go back to my site and go back to “Themes.” This time when I do “Add new” I’m going to upload my theme. OK, so I’m not going to go through this because I’ve already done that. This time I’m going to upload a theme, I’m going to browse my computer where that theme is located, and like I said it’s a zip file so here, it is right over here. OK, and “Install now” is fine.

OK, it was successful. Now I can choose any of these, “Live preview” or “Activate.” But again, I like to go back to where all the themes are. OK, here it is. Now I’m going to activate it this way. So, let’s see what we have. OK. Totally different again. My menu again is all messed up. That’s fine. I’m going to straighten it out in a second. The content is exactly what I had before, it looks like I’m going to need to make some adjustments with this, but let’s straighten out the menu because this is the biggest problem that people have when they start experimenting with different themes. Which is something that you may want to do as you build your site, so let’s go back to “Menu.” In this case, again, “Manage locations.” But you see, I didn’t choose the menu yet, the menu that I’ve already made called “Main menu.” So, let’s do that.

Now I have it in the right order. “Home,” “Prep,” “Plant,” etc. Now what I want to do is go back to my themes and let’s reestablish what it is that we want. So I’m going to activate the one that we had before, and I’m going to delete some of these other ones. How do you delete them? Because I only am going to use one theme when I’m all said and done, so right over here “Delete.” Yes, I want to delete. I can repeat the process over here to the right-hand corner, “Delete.” OK, and so on. Rinse and repeat. I would get rid of those too. You’re only going to need one theme, so we’re fine. To sum it all up, there are two different ways to install your theme. One is to find it in the WP admin. Let’s take a quick look at that again. Here we go. I just went over here to “Add new” and away we went. The other one was to go to and click on “Themes,” and find your theme in the theme directory. When you do it this way, you’ll download a zip file, and then you’re going to have to upload that to your WordPress site.

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