When you start a blog, the first thing after installing WordPress on your custom
hosting plan is to install a WordPress theme, especially if you want to change
the default theme, usually the Twenty
So, you might at such a time want to know how to install
WordPress theme to give your blog or website a unique appearance.
In fact, most web designers and bloggers prefer to install
their custom theme either directly from the admin panel, uploaded or via any
appropriate manual method.
This is because custom themes give us the features we want
to see on our blogs. As such, we easily ignore the default themes.
Although, you can change the look of the default theme using
a child theme or create your own, you, however, need coding skills.
If you’re a web designer or developer with experience, you
can change the whole look of a theme.
Doing so requires time aside from coding skills.
For those who lack the needed skills to change the look and
feel of a theme, the best option is usually to download or purchase a theme and
then install on WordPress.
This will save both time and resources.
The big question, however, is, how do you install WordPress theme?
That’s what this post contains.
I will show how to install a theme using several methods so
you can choose any of the methods you’re comfortable with or prefer.
Any of the methods you use will deliver the same results but
some of the methods provide solutions to the hitches of others.
By understanding them, you will be able to make your choice.
Before diving into how to install a theme, let me give you a
brief description of a WordPress theme…
What is a Theme?
In WordPress, a theme is a collection of files that determine the appearance and display of a website or blog.
Basically, it contains files that collectively present the pages of a blog to a frontend user.
WordPress gives the permission for users to install any theme provided it meets the standards.
Because of this, there are thousands of WordPress themes out there, some of which are free and others paid.
Each theme comes with its unique appearance and display styles depending on the developer and the version of WordPress it has been built to be compatible with.
Well, since WordPress keeps updating their platform, developers update their themes regularly to keep up to the latest changes.
At the frontend, a theme contains the header, main content, sidebar and footer sections.
These sections are expertly built and integrated to deliver a user-friendly appeal.
Depending on the type of website or blog one is developing, the choice of a theme is important. Some themes have been specifically designed for particular websites.
For instance, an e-commerce website will require a theme that displays a storefront, integrates conversion and monetising features.
Whereas, a school website requires a different appearance of the theme.
The good thing is that almost any kind of feature can be added to a WordPress theme.
This can be done via plugins which extend the functionality and performance of themes.
Why you may need to Install WordPress Theme
Next, I will like to briefly explain why you might need to install a WordPress theme…
1. The default theme isn’t appealing
WordPress comes with three default themes: Twenty Seventeen, Twenty Sixteen and Twenty Fifteen
As I initially stated, you can change the display and appearance of any of this theme if you have the coding skills needed to do so.
Outside that, you won’t be satisfied with the appearance of any of them.
For instance, the Twenty Seventeen theme has a high header section that takes up almost the whole browsing window.
Believe me, that is not what you want to see, and as such might want another theme.
Getting another theme will mean installing it on your blog.
2. You have a custom theme
It’s possible that you have downloaded a theme of your choice or developed one outside the WordPress or server environment.
Yes, most people develop their themes or simply contract a developer to develop a nice-looking theme for them after which they install on their blogs.
So, if you had a theme purchased, downloaded freely, or developed from scratch, to use it on your blog or website, you will have to install it.
3. You want to test-run a few themes
For some people, the best way to make the right choice of the theme to use on a blog is to try out a few themes.
Trying out a few themes will allow you to determine the one that fits your blog.
Let’s assume you have up to five themes to try out, you have to install each of these themes, activate and customise to see how it fares.
But the first thing to do after choosing and obtaining your theme is to install.
Hence, the need to try out a few themes will prompt you to install a WordPress theme.
How to Install WordPress Theme
Finally, we’ve arrived at the stage you have been waiting for and I will describe the available methods you can use to install your theme.
Install WordPress theme from Admin Panel
This method requires you to login to your WordPress Admin Dashboard from where you will begin the installation process.
Once you have succeeded to log in, on the link of menus on the left, place your mouse on Appearance, then click Themes.
This will open a window that contains the themes you have installed before and the default ones.
Next, at the top, click Add New or the big plus sign at the very end of the page.
Automatically, WordPress will display several themes from where you can install any one you choose.
Searching for a theme
If you had the name of a theme you want to install in mind, to search, enter the text in the search field at the top right.
WordPress will display themes with the name provided or those with related names.
If there is no theme with such name or no related name, nothing will be displayed.
Another way of getting themes from the WordPress Admin Panel is to apply a set of filters that suit what you want.
This will cause WordPress to only display those themes that similar to or close to what you want.
The main filters are Featured, Popular, Latest and Favorites.
Aside from the above major filters, there are twenty-nine filters divided into three categories of Subject, Features and Layout.
You can choose as many filters as you want and then apply to view themes that meet the applied filters.
Once you have selected your preferred filters, click on Apply Filters at the top left to see the themes.
Back to installation…
Once you have identified your preferred theme, click on Install.
Wait for WordPress to install the theme, then click Activate to make it your main theme.
Before activating a theme, utilise the Live preview feature to get a look at the appearance of your blog should you activate the theme.
- You can easily search for themes using the available filters or just the name.
- It’s easier and quicker to apply, especially for beginners
- Everything takes place within WordPress Admin Panel ensuring control, compatibility and flexibility
- The size of a theme does not affect the installation
- You may not see a particular theme using the search or filter feature because not all developers upload their themes to WordPress Codex.
Install WordPress Theme by Uploading
Do you have a custom theme you downloaded or developed?
If yes, you might want to upload it from your computer to your blog.
Once again, WordPress Admin Panel offers you the feature to upload your theme.
Login to your WordPress Admin Panel and place the mouse on Appearance, then Themes.
This will open the page that contains the default themes or the ones you have installed.
At the top click Add New. The page displays screenshots of WordPress themes you can install.
However, we’re not installing from there. We did that before.
This time around, click on Upload Theme and click Choose File, Browse, or any upload instruction your browser displays.
Navigate to the directory on your computer where you saved the theme select to upload.
Note: The format of the file you want to upload must be a zip file.
Click Install Now to both upload and install the theme on your blog.
Wait for the installation to complete, then Activate or Preview before activating to make it your default theme.
- It’s a quicker way off installing your custom theme
- This is the best option for beginners to install themes they have downloaded onto their computers
- Aside from selecting the theme, every other thing takes place within the WordPress Admin panel
- Some themes might exceed the file size limit for the server and such fail to install.
- Themes you download can sometimes be corrupt or missing important files, e.g. CSS file.
Install WordPress Theme Manually with an FTP
This is an alternative way of installing a WordPress theme whose size exceeds the limit.
But note that you can change the size limit if you have the privileges.
To use this method, you must have an FTP privilege to the server or you are the Admin.
Also, download and install an FTP software. You can download FileZilla from here.
Now, get the following details:
Hostname: e.g. bloggersvibes.com
You might be required to use ftp.hostname where hostname is your hostname. E.g. ftp.bloggervibes.com
Username: the username given to you by the hosting company or one you create to access your server.
Password: the password you use to login to the server.
Port: FTP clients utilise port 21 to establish a connection with the server.
So, let’s get started…
Launch your FTP client.
For FileZilla, I’m going to use the Quick Connect feature.
Enter the hostname, username, password and port number, then click Quick Connect.
Wait for a connection to be established
Once the connection is established, your server’s directory will be displayed to the right.
Follow this path:
The list of the themes you’ve installed will be displayed.
Equally, choose the local directory on your computer that contains the theme you want to install.
Make sure the you’ve unzipped the theme on your computer, though you can unzip after uploading.
Navigate to the theme, right click and select Upload.
Wait for all the files to be uploaded, a success message will be displayed once it’s done.
Login to your WordPress Admin, hover on Appearance and click Themes.
The lists of installed themes will be displayed including the one you just uploaded.
Hover on the theme and click Activate to make your theme active
- Can be used to overcome the problem of exceeding size limit when uploading from WordPress Panel
- Can be challenging to use, especially connecting to the server.
Install WordPress Theme Manually from cPanel
Here is yet another option for you to install your WordPress theme by uploading to the theme’s directory from cPanel and activating from WordPress Admin Panel.
This method comes in handy if:
- The size of your theme exceeds the limit, or
- You do not want to use an FTP client
But you must have privileges to the server that allow you to upload files.
So, let’s do it…
Login to cPanel and click File Manager on the dashboard to open files and folders on the server.
Next, access the themes folder by following this Path:
By now the file manager should display the themes you have installed on the right.
Well, our assignment here is to upload another theme.
At the top corner, click Upload to open the upload page where you will either drag and drop the theme or click Select File to access the file on your computer and then Upload.
The file you intend to upload must be in zip format
Wait for the upload to be complete. Normally, you’ll see a green progress bar at the bottom with 100% to show that the upload is complete.
Now return to the theme directory on the file manager page.
Right click on the zip file you just uploaded and click Extract. This will extract the contents of the theme from the zip file.
For storage management, delete the zip file after extracting.
Login to WordPress and access the themes’ page.
Locate the theme you just uploaded.
If you found the theme there, then you did well. To make it your main theme, activate as usual.
- You can upload several large files
- Does not require an FTP connection to the server
- Requires Admin rights and privileges
- It can be difficult for beginners to apply
2 Common Errors when Installing a Theme
Sometimes, WordPress developers and bloggers encounter errors while installing a new theme on their blog.
For beginners, it can be frustrating to see WordPress return an error message rather installing them.
Most especially when you’ve just purchased theme or got one designed for you.
Though there several other errors that can be encounter, I have decided to focus on this as they are the commonest.
To each of this error, I’ll describe what to do.
Error #1 – File size Exceeded
It’s quite common to discover that the size of the theme you are uploading exceeds the maximum upload size set by default on your server.
Let’s assume the server’s maximum upload size is 2MB and your theme is 2.2MB, WordPress will not be able to install the theme.
The best way to address this is to have your server administrator increase the server’s size limit.
Alternatively, you can do this yourself if you have access to the server panel and a bit knowledge about it.
To do this, simply add the following code in the theme’s functions.php file:
@ini_set(‘upload_max_size’, ‘64M’); @ini_set(‘post_max_size’, ‘64M’); @ini_set(‘max_execution_time’, ‘300’);
Error #2 – Missing the style.css stylesheet
Wrong developed bad themes can have some of their dependent files misplaced or not existing.
Especially, the style.css file that affects the overall appearance of the theme when installed and activated.
When WordPress notices that the stylesheet file is missing or wrongly coded, it returns an error:
The package could not be installed. The theme is missing the style.css stylesheet
Except you’re a web designer or developer, there is nothing you can do about this.
So, if you bought the theme, contact the vendor for technical support.
For downloaded themes, the first thing you can try is to download the theme again.
Should the error persist, contact the developer or simply download another one.
Updating WordPress Theme
WordPress themes can be updated directly from the themes page provided the theme is hosted on the WordPress Codex.
Usually, you will be notified of updates and can update by selecting the theme to update on the Update page.
Alternatively, access the themes’ page and on the theme you intend to update, click Update now and wait for the update to complete.
For the themes you can’t update directly from the Dashboard, download the latest version from your source, then upload and activate using any of the upload methods.
Deleting an installed theme
For reasons known to you, you might want to delete or uninstall WordPress theme.
To delete, access the themes’ page on WordPress, hover on the theme you want to delete and click Theme Details.
On the page that opens, click Delete at the bottom right corner of the window.
Click Ok on the popup to allow deletion and wait for WordPress to delete or uninstall them.
Installing WordPress theme is something you might be able to avoid especially if you building your blog from scratch on your own.
You might later want to change your current theme to a better one.
Changing your theme to another one not initially installed will require that you install it first.
Though you can get a web designer or developer to do this for, it’s something you can easily do to save cost.
Use any of the methods above to easily install any WordPress theme of your choice.