In this guide, I will take you through the steps on how to install a WordPress theme.
Before you get started, you will first need to make sure you have hosting, and WordPress installed. If you haven’t got them installed then be sure to check out the guide on how to install WordPress, it will take you through everything you need to know to get started.
Now there are four different methods on how you can install your chosen theme. Each method varies in difficulty with the most straightforward approach using the inbuilt theme browser and the hardest using FTP (File Transfer Protocol). If you’re just starting out with your own website then I would start using the most straightforward method, and that is using the WordPress uploader.
The method that you use will vary depending on the theme that you choose. For example, if you’re just after a free theme then you can usually find one within the “add themes” page of WordPress. However, if you bought a premium theme from somewhere such as Elegant Themes, then you will need to upload it via the website or through FTP.
WordPress is continually changing so this tutorial may become out of date, I will try my hardest to keep it up to date. If you do notice something is wrong, please don’t hesitate to let me know by leaving a comment at the bottom of this page.
If you want to see how to do this visually, then be sure to check out the video below. It will take you through all the steps to getting a theme installed, so you’re able to start customizing and making your site look amazing.
How to Install a Theme via the WordPress Theme Browser
Using the WordPress theme browser is the easiest method for installing a theme and is perfect for anyone who is quite happy with just using a free theme.
Keep in mind free themes usually don’t look nearly as good as premium ones and are more likely not to be supported in the future.
You can also find free themes at many other theme websites that are outside the inbuilt WordPress theme catalog.
1. First, log in to the admin area for your WordPress website (Usually found at yourdomain.com/wp-admin)
2. Next, go to Appearance->Themes
3. On this page, you can see all your currently installed themes. You can simply switch between these by hovering over a theme and clicking activate. Alternatively, live preview will let you view what your website would look like with that specific theme.
4. If you want to install a new theme, then click on “add new” located at the top of the page.
5. On the add new page, you can browse all the available themes to download and install. You can both preview or install any of the themes.
6. Once you have picked and installed a theme simply click activate on the add new page or on the themes page located at Appearance->Themes
7. Now you’re ready to customize the theme.
Note: If you ever need to delete a theme simply click on it within the themes page (Appearance->themes). Once you have done this then click on delete located in the bottom right corner of the page.
How to install a WordPress Theme via the Uploader
Using the uploader is typically the method that you will use when it comes to installing a premium theme that you have bought from a theme publisher such as Elegant Themes or a marketplace such as Envato.
In this example, I will be installing the latest theme from Elegant themes called Divi.
1. To begin, log in to the admin area for your WordPress website.
2. Next, go to Appearance->Themes
3. On this page, click add new
4. On the next page click upload theme
5. Now click choose file and then select the zip file of the theme you have downloaded. It should be called something like theme.zip or in my case it’s divi.zip
6. Once selected, click install now. Depending on the size of the theme it may take a while to upload and install.
7. Lastly, you should get a success page like the one below. Click on activate to make this your current theme. Alternatively clicking live preview will give you an example of what your theme will look like.
8. It’s now time to move onto configuring the theme.
If the theme fails to upload, then this could indicate either a problem with the server configuration or an error with the theme package.
There are many reasons why the uploader might not work such as the theme is too large, it has trouble recognizing/unpacking the theme, or there is a server configuration error related to file uploads.
If you believe the server is misconfigured it’s best to put a support request in with your hosting provider so they can take a look at it. You can in the meantime try installing the theme manually via FTP or cPanel by using the methods explained below.
Note: Some theme’s .zip file is stored within another .zip file so you may need to extract the outer .zip file to find the correct .zip file to upload.
Installing a WordPress Theme via cPanel
Using cPanel is the easiest way of installing a WordPress theme if the methods mentioned above don’t work. It will involve logging into your cPanel and be using the file manager.
1. First, login into cPanel.
2. Under the Files sub-menu select file manager.
3. In the pop up select your domain under document root for and then click go.
4. Now navigate to the themes folder which can be found in wp-content->themes
5. In this folder upload the theme by clicking the upload icon in the top toolbar.
6. This icon will open an upload page, on here select choose file and then select the theme file. It will now begin to upload, it might take some time depending on your upload speed to the server.
7. Once done go back to themes folder and right-click on the zip file you just uploaded and select extract.
8. It should now be installed, and you can confirm this by going back to the WordPress admin section and refreshing the theme page. The theme should now show.
9. You can now safely remove the .zip file by right-clicking on it and selecting delete.
Note: It’s important to note some themes may extract into two child folders. For example, /divi/divi, this usually isn’t a problem, but if you like to keep things clean, you might want to move all the files from /divi/divi to just /divi.
Installing a Theme via FTP
Using FTP (File Transfer Protocol) is the most challenging way of uploading a theme, and is only really ever needed if the uploader for some reason doesn’t work, and the cPanel option isn’t viable.
1. Make sure you have your FTP details available. Alternatively, you can create a new FTP account in cPanel under FTP Accounts.
2. Next, you will need an FTP tool such as FileZilla
3. In here just enter the details of your account. Host is your website address (example.com), username is the name of the FTP account, password is the password of the FTP account, and you can usually leave the port blank unless your hosting has told you something different (Unique port).
4. Once entered click on quick Connect.
5. It should now connect to the base folder for the FTP account. This folder is likely to be the base folder of cPanel. If this is the case go to public_html->wp-content->themes or if it’s in the base folder of the website then simply go to wp-content->themes.
6. You will need to unzip the zip on your computer. Now simply upload the folder containing the theme into the theme directory.
7. Once done, it should be visible on the themes page within WordPress.
Note: FTP is probably the slowest and hardest way to upload a theme and should only be done if you have exhausted all other methods.
Configuring the theme
Most themes will have options that you’re able to configure. Since they’re all usually completely different, I will just keep this super brief. It is often best to refer to the place you bought or downloaded the theme for more information on setting it up.
Most themes will come with an additional admin page in which you change settings such as the logo of the site, favicon, colors, footer text and much more. For example, Divi can be found on the left-hand side menu under the title Divi.
Most themes also have more options you can set under appearance->customize. In here again you can set things such as the colors, fonts, menus, widgets, titles and much more.
It’s always best to refer to the themes support pages (if it has any) for more help as every theme is different, so it’s incredibly hard to predict what settings will be available to you.
Now I hope one of these steps has helped you install a WordPress theme without any issues. If you have some feedback, notice a mistake or anything else, then please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below.