Making your entire website look completely different has never been easier. Unless, of course, you have hire me to do so for you. Here is the 1-2-3 look at changing themes in your WordPress website. This applies to either WordPress.com or WordPress.org (self-hosted) sites and uses the Themes link inside of the Administrator’s Control Panel (Admin Panel).
Log in to your WordPress Admin Panel (it will be found at http://yourwebsite.tld/wp-login.php or straight to http://yourwebsite.tld/wp-admin/) [Figure A]
Figure A - WordPress Login
Once logged in to your Admin Panel look in the left tool bar for “Appearance”. If it does not look like the image [Figure B] click on the word “Appearance” to activate the script to open the submenu. Then click on the word “Themes” in the submenu. [Figure B]
Figure B - Themes Access
When the screen loads you will see two tabs. One says “Manage Themes” and the other “Install Themes”. Click on “Install Themes” [Figure C]. Now you can search by typing in key words, the author’s name or tags the author used when uploading to the Themes directory. You can also use the check boxes to make selections. The more terms and boxes you choose the less likely you are to get a result. When the search engine sees check boxes it looks for a theme that matches all of the check boxes you have ticked. Check one color, a theme layout preference and click submit.
Figure C - Select a Theme
For the purpose of this tutorial I selected “Blue” and “Right Sidebar” from the check boxes and you can see part of the results which were returned to me [Figure D].
Figure D - Theme Search Results
I like the one called “Pool”. Before installing it I can see a “Preview” by clicking the word “Preview”. This will open a preview so you can see what it would look like full screen. After that simply click on the word “Install”. The newest versions of WordPress (we are at 3.0.5 right now) will present you another option to “Install Now” or “Cancel”. Hopefully you do not need an explanation of those. Keep in mind you are only installing at this point and you will still need to activate the new theme in a coming step. Click “Install Now” and the theme will install into your WordPress theme directory [Figure E].
Figure E - New Theme Installed
Now that your new them is installed you can choose to Preview, Activate or Return to Theme Installer. You would return to the installer if you wanted to download another theme. You may download as many as you like without worrying about them interfering with one another. Only the active theme interacts with the WordPress core. When you click on the “Activate” link the theme will be activated and visitors will see your WordPress installation with the new theme installed and all of your content in place. The Admin Panel will tell you the new theme has been activated, show you the thumbnail and the description [Figure F]. Below that you will see all of the available themes on your installation.
Figure F - Newly installed theme
Now you can view your WordPress site with the new theme installed but you may have a couple more steps. Your sidebar may need to be reset to the way you like it. Chances are if you did not know how to install a theme you did not know how to organize your sidebar using the widgets panel so the default setting may be just fine for you. If not, search for a “How to Organize the Sidebar Widgets in WordPress”.