How to Download, Install and Use WordPress Themes

how-to-wordpress-themesWordPress is the world’s most popular blogging platform in the world. Forty-eight out of the top 100 blogs on Technorati use some version of WordPress, and Alexa estimates that around 17% of their “top one million” websites are powered by that blogging platform. How is it possible for WordPress to be used by so many website owners, and yet every blog looks different, and some WordPress powered sites don’t look like blogs at all?

The Power of Themes

The beauty of WordPress is that it is flexible and easy to extend. At its core, WordPress is a pretty simple platform. Most of the fancy features that you are used to seeing on blogs these days come from plugins and themes.

Plugins add extra functionality such as SEO features, YouTube video embedding, store fronts and contact forms. Themes are used to change how WordPress looks. With the right theme, you can make your blog look like an online magazine, a store front, a typical two-column blog, or a clean and simple Posterous-style page.

Where to Find WordPress Themes

There is a huge selection of WordPress themes available for free download from within WordPress itself. Simply log in to your admin panel and go to Appearance|Themes, then select Install Themes:

get-wordpress-themes
If you find a theme that you like using this built-in feature, you can install the theme by clicking “Install Now”, and WordPress will take care of the install process for you.
auto-install-wordpress-hemes

While the selection of themes provided by WordPress is impressive, there is a good chance that there will be a lot of other webmasters using each of those themes. If you want a professional looking theme that few other webmasters are using, then premium themes are the way to go.

Some popular premium theme websites with high quality themes include:

1. www.templatemonster.com

2. www.themeforest.com

3. www.briangardner.com/themes

Installing a WordPress Theme

If you buy a WordPress theme from a third party website, then you will need to install it yourself. Installing themes is a fairly simple process:

1. Download the theme file that you want to use for your website. This will usually be a .zip file.

2. Extract the contents of the .zip file, keeping the directory structure intact.

3. Use an FTP client to connect to the server where your blog is hosted, and navigate to the wp-content/themes directory.

4. Create a directory for your theme. If your theme is called Nice-Blog then the full path to the theme should end up being wp-content/themes/nice-blog. The archive that you extracted may already contain a correctly named directory, in which case you can skip this step.

5. Upload all of the theme files to the new directory on your host server.

6. Load up your WordPress admin panel and go to Appearance | Themes

7. Navigate to the Available Themes section and click the Activate link under the theme that you have just installed.

If you can’t find a theme that you like, then you could try using a WordPress theme generator such as Artisteer or Microthemer to make your own themes. Most theme generators offer a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) interface which makes it easy for you to experiment with new styles and layouts, even if you aren’t an experienced web developer.

Author bio:

This post was written by James Harper on behalf of Themeover the WordPress specialists.