It is not necessary to install a new theme to begin working with WordPress. However, if you want your site to look different than a generic site, you should install a WordPress theme. I like to install my theme before I adjust any other settings.
There are two choices in themes. There are plenty of free themes available at the WordPress site, or you can go with a premium theme. I chose a premium theme for this site as I wanted to make sure that there would be support for me if I ran into a problem, and that if I paid for a product it is likely to be better constructed and more stable than a free one that somebody built for their own edification.
I chose to buy a package from ElegantThemes. I chose them because I get access to their entire catalog of themes (72 in total I think). This site uses one called StudioBlue (you can change among five or six colors), which I chose for its simplicity. For this instruction set however, I will use a free theme as my example.
There are two ways to get a theme to your site. One involves downloading a zip file then uploading it to your host, and the other is entirely self-contained within the WordPress Dashboard.
If you navigate to WordPress.org, one of the navigation options is “Themes”. Following that link leads you to the catalog of themes that people have uploaded to the WordPress site. You can search through the database until you find something that you like. Then, when you have found something, click the “download” button. You will be given the option to save or open the zip file, and you want to save it. Remember where you save it, because you will need to upload it in just a minute. If you do choose to go with a premium theme package like ElegantThemes, you will go through the steps outlined in this paragraph.
Navigate to your WordPress dashboard. In order to do this, navigate in your browser to YourDomain.com (replace “YourDomain” with whatever the name is of the domain that you registered). On of the links on the page, towards the bottom side, in the section headed “Meta” is a link labeled “log in”. Click it. You will be taken to a screen that displays the standard WordPress login.
Use your WordPress username and password (not your hosting service username and password) and click “Log In”. You will now see the WordPress Dashboard, which is the command center of your website. From here you can take care of all the behind the scenes concerns of your website.
Down the left hand side of the page are a number of options. Select the “Appearance” option, and the “Themes” sub-option.
The themes page that loads starts automatically on the “Manage Themes” tab, but we are interested in the “Install Themes” tab. This is where the instructions change depending on what you have already done. If you downloaded a zip file, then you will click the “Upload” option on this page. If you did not, then you will need to search for a theme (skip over the next paragraph).
After clicking the “Upload” button, you will be transported to a screen that will let you browse your computer for that zip file you just downloaded a few minutes ago. Once you have found it and selected it, click the “Install Now” button. You will then need to activate the theme, as described in the very last image on this page.
If you did not download a theme zip file, you will need to find one through your WordPress dashboard. Select the criteria that you want, scroll down to the bottom of the page, and click “find Themes”. I selected the Black and Green boxes, and got 86 results.
I’ve decided that the Strawberry Blend theme is for me (nevermind that I don’t see much green in it, which was one of my criteria). Installation is as simple as clicking the Install link. A confirmation screen appears, on which you just click the “Install Now” button.
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