WordPress: Beyond the Basics - Themes

Feb 17th, 2011

So you have installed WordPress and are blogging your little heart out, but your blog just isn't as exciting as you hoped. The content of the blog is only half of the fun of having a WordPress blog...customizing your blog with a new look and new features is where the real bloggers shine!

The easiest and most popular way to spice up your blog is by installing a new THEME. A custom theme will completely change the layout, colors, and features of your blog...and you don't even need to know any code to do it.

First, you need to find a theme that you like. You can either look for a theme that reflects your own personal style and culture, or you can use a theme that directly relates to your common topics discussed in your blog. If you had a blog that was specifically discussing cars, you might want to install a theme that had pictures of cars. If you were discussing an assortment of topics and wanted to have your blog reflect your personal love of cats, you could install a theme that had lots of pictures of cats!

So, where do you find these themes? You can search the huge list of themes available through the WordPress homepage at The WordPress Themes Page. There are over 1,000 themes available there, so go do some keyword searches for something you find relevant and see what comes up. Or you could even browse through all of the 'Most Popular' themes to see if anything catches your eye. You can also use Google to search for WordPress themes using your specific keywords to find plenty of other resources that offer free or paid WordPress themes that may spark your interest.

Once you have found that perfect WordPress theme, you will want to download it to your computer. Most of these themes can be downloaded as a .zip file, which you can then extract into a folder on your computer. You will then upload that extracted folder onto the server into the /themes sub-directory under your /wp-content directory wherever you installed WordPress. For example, if you installed WordPress to the root directory, you would want to upload your new theme folder into the /primary/www/wp-content/themes directory. If you installed WordPress into a directory named blog, you would upload the new theme folder into the /primary/www/blog/wp-content/themes directory. Make sure you upload the actual extracted folder into the /themes directory, not just the files inside the folder. This will give you a list of directories in the /themes directory with the names of each theme you have installed.

Once you have your theme uploaded to the server, you will log into your WordPress admin page, click the Appearance section, then click the Themes link. You will now see the Current Theme at the top, as well as a list of Available Themes. Any theme you have uploaded correctly to the server should be listed under the Available Themes To enable your new theme, click the Activate link.

Just like that, you have a whole new stylish blog...now go find that special theme that screams CHECK ME OUT!