This article is Part 2 of my series on How To Use WordPress. For Part 1 see How to Use WordPress: Choosing a WordPress Theme. If you still have not chosen a domain name or web host for your site, let me suggest my Domain Registration & Hosting page for some references.
Your WordPress Theme
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So you have decided on a WordPress theme, now what? There are three common ways to install a theme on your blog. Again, this article assumes you are using a self-hosted WordPress install. What you do next depends on which option below you decide to use for installing the theme.
Option 1: Download and Install through your WordPress Dashboard
The first option for installing a WordPress theme is to search for and install through the WordPress Dashboard. To do this, simply log in to your Dashboard, select Appearance and Themes from the left hand side of the screen.
From this screen you will see the themes already installed on your blog (WordPress comes with three pre-installed themes: Twenty Twelve, Twenty Thirteen, and Twenty Fourteen) and an option to Add New or Add New Theme. Click either of these buttons to get started.
From here you will be taken to a new screen where you have a couple different options. The first is to search for a theme based on either the name or description. The other option is to upload a theme you have previously downloaded. I will cover this second option below. So for now let’s just search for a theme. A note here is that this option does not apply to premium WordPress themes that you have purchased elsewhere and are looking to install. If you purchased a premium WordPress theme you will need to follow the instructions below for either uploading a theme through the dashboard or via FTP. This option is only for free themes available directly through the WordPress.org website.
Once you have entered or selected your search criteria a set of themes meeting that criteria will be returned to you.
Once you find the theme you would like to install simply click the Install Now link below the theme.
From here you will be asked to provide your FTP credentials for your server. These should have been provided by your hosting provider and if you are unsure just give their support team a call or look on their website to find out how to get yours.
WordPress will begin downloading and installing the theme to your server. Once it is complete your new theme will now be available in your list of themes from the first screen above. To activate and begin using your new theme simply hover your mouse over the theme and click the Activate button. That’s all there is to it.
Option 2: Download and install WordPress theme by uploading to your server
Option 2 is similar to Option 1 in that you will use the Dashboard to guide your way through installing the theme. However, this option is more geared for themes that you have downloaded, or in the case of a premium WordPress theme, outside of the WordPress.org website.
With this option, when you reach the search screen, instead of searching for a new theme you will click the Upload link at the top.
You will next be asked to Choose File. WordPress is nice in that you can upload the .zip file directly and it will handle unzipping and installing on its own.
Once you have uploaded your theme you can go back and select and activate the new theme to start using it.
Option 3: Uploading and Installing your WordPress theme via FTP
Similar to Option 2, this option is for themes that you have downloaded or purchased outside of the WordPress.org website. This is a more advanced option in that you will be using a separate FTP program for uploading the theme to your server. I assume you already a FTP program (I recommend Filezilla a free FTP program).
Once you have found and downloaded your new theme, you will need to unzip the theme to a file on your computer. After you have the theme unzipped you should have a new directory that contains the files and directories for your new theme. While each theme is different, in most cases you will simply want to use your FTP program to upload this entire folder to your wp-content/themes/ directory on your server. You will know your in the right directory on your server when you see other directories like twentytwelve,twentythirteen, and/or twentyfourteen.
After your FTP software has completed the upload you will need to log in to your WordPress Dashboard. Navigate to the Appearance – Themes menu on the left side. You should now see your new theme in the available themes. Simply hover the theme and click the Activate button.
That is all there is install WordPress theme. As always if you have any questions I am available through the comments section below. And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @jeffmould.
For help with WordPress if I can suggest a helpful book that got me started with WordPress development: Professional WordPress: Design and Development
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