One of the [many] things that makes WordPress so darn great is the huge variety of WordPress themes on offer. But what are WordPress themes? What do they do, and how do you use them?
To find out, check out our latest video over on our YouTube channel.
Hi! This is Topher with WinningWP. In this video we’re going to answer the question “What Are WordPress Themes”. So let’s dive right in and take a look. WordPress themes are the templates that make your website look the way it does. The theme we’re looking at here is called. It has a header at the top, a sidebar on the right, content on the left, and is generally pretty white and stark. But there are many different themes and they can look different ways. Let me show you. I’m in my admin area here under appearance – themes. You can see right here, “Active” Twenty Sixteen. Right next to it is Twenty Fifteen and if I click activate and reload my site now my header is in a sidebar but on the left, and my sidebar content is on the left and all my real content is on the right in these big boxes. And then if I choose a different theme like Twenty Fourteen, then my sidebar is still on the left but it’s black. And if you look at the thumbnail you’ll notice that Twenty Fourteen is really intended to be used with a photo heavy blog and mine simply isn’t. I’d like to show you one more here’s Twenty Seventeen. And this one’s very dramatic with a large image and your header right there, and then you scroll down and you can see all your content with a sidebar on the right and the content on the left. Now I want to point out that through all of these changes my content itself never changed. My sidebars contained the same content no matter whether they were on the left or the right or how they were colored. My site title never changed no matter whether was the only thing on the page or in the top, or in a sidebar. That’s one of the great things about themes; they control just the design. Now occasionally you may find a theme that says that it adds functionality. A Realty theme for example, might say “We have a custom content type, just for homes so you can have your home listing!” And that’s great as long as you like that theme and you never want to leave it but as soon as you want to change your design and you move to a new theme all those homes go with it because they were tied to the theme. Ideally you want a theme that only handles design. So where can you get good themes? We’re here at WordPress.org and I clicked on the themes icon here and then went to latest. And you can see that there are themes available for free on WordPress.org. And you can sort by featured, or popular, and latest. There’s a feature filter so you can look for something that you particularly want, and then there’s a way to search. Let’s search for Halloween, and you’ll see that there are three that are tagged Halloween. But how do you get them from here into your blog? Let’s go back to our own blog and right here at the top you’ll see there’s an add new button. You’ll also see a nav that’s similar to the one you saw on .org. That’s because it’s pretty much the same nav, and these are the same themes, and what’s happening is your own blog can search WordPress.org. And right here is a search themes option and sure enough there are the Halloween themes. Now if I click install it will install it for me. Now that doesn’t automatically activate it and make it use it. To make that happen you have to click the activate button. And now I’ll reload. And there’s our blog. It’s a Halloween theme and again note the content never changed. Now something I want to point out here in the theme directory there’s a commercial themes option. Each of these icons represents a company that sells themes, and what they’re actually selling is support. If you buy a theme from any of these companies and you get stuck or you need help or you need some advice you can get ahold of somebody and they will answer your questions. They WANT to answer your questions. You’re a customer and they want to help you. So for all that there are nearly free themes, there are some that are available with support. I’d like to suggest that when trying to decide what seem to use you install a whole bunch and try them out. You can’t really hurt your site just installing the theme and you can always switch back to one that you know you like. Now something I want to point out is that occasionally you will find a website that gives away for free themes that you normally would have to buy. I’d like to advise against downloading those. They’re almost always loaded with malware. Those kinds of sites will buy a copy, put their malware in it, and offer it for free in the hopes that people will download it and install it for them. If there’s a paid theme you want, go ahead and pay for it. They worked hard for it you’ll know it’s secure and you’ll get support. If you want a free one I recommend getting from .org. Those themes are scanned and reviewed by skilled people to make sure that they’re clean and safe. So experiment with your blog, try a bunch of themes and pick something that makes you happy. Let’s review real quick. “What Are WordPress Themes?” Themes are templates that show your content. Themes all function differently from each other. some have sidebars on the left, some on the right, some not at all. Themes should only manage design and not features, otherwise you get locked into a theme and you can never change. There are many free themes at WordPress.org that are excellent and reviewed but if you want to pay for some support there are also many paid themes that come with excellent support. If you’d like to learn more about WordPress, check out WinningWP.com.
Anything to add? What’s your favorite WordPress theme?