How to install a wordpress theme in 3 easy steps

How to install a wordpress theme in 3 easy steps

There’s so much to learn in the early days of starting a blog. Choosing a host, installing plugins and designing your site, and that’s before you’ve even published your first blog post. Themes are what wordpress uses to set the look and feel of a blog. It sets out your font styles and colours, where your featured images are displayed and more. But how do you install a wordpress theme?

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What exactly is a wordpress theme and how does it work?

A wordpress theme is a set of files that control how your blog looks and behaves. Most themes will let you change background colours, text colours and images.

Not every theme is the same but there will be separate files that define the blog header layout, how the footer is laid out, how big your featured images should be and more.

Free themes vs paid for themes

There’s no right or wrong in whether you should choose a free theme or a paid for theme, it depends on how you want your blog to look.

Generally speaking, paid for themes give you more flexibility and options in how you want your blog to look and feel, but that’s not to say you can’t personalise a free theme to get it how you want it, you just might need to spend a bit more time on it.

There are also paid for themes to suit all budgets. I use X theme which comes with a free drag and drop plugin which makes it super customisable, but you can buy themes that are done for you too.

You have so many choices when it comes to themes you’re sure to find something that you like within your budget.

How to install a wordpress theme

There are two ways to install a wordpress theme. You can either search for a theme on the themes screen or download a theme from elsewhere and upload it to your blog.

Search through WP dashboard

This is generally how you’d install a free theme but you’ll probably find that a lot of these themes will have paid for upgrades that will give you more options and features.

  1. In the WordPress dashboard click appearance > Themes
  2. In the search box on the right side of the screen type your keyword relating to the kind of theme you’re looking for e.g. blog, modern blog, minimalist etc.
  3. When you’ve found a theme you like click install, and when you’re ready to make it live on your site click activate. That’s all there is to installing a wordpress theme.
  4. To start customising your theme click the customise button. Now you’re all set to start getting your blog to look how you want it to.

Do you know whether or not you should create a child theme? Check out this post to find out more.

Zip file download

This is normally how you’d install a paid for theme like X theme.

  1. Download the zip file containing your theme. Depending on where you bought your theme you might need to go to a website to download it or you may have been sent it attached to an email.
  2. Go to the wordpress dashboard click appearance > themes.
  3. Click add new, browse and then find the zip file that you downloaded in step 1 and upload.
  4. Do you need to click install? When you’re ready to make the theme live click activate.

Don’t forget to double check whether or not you need to install a child theme.

Go one step further with your theme personalisation

Styling your site doesn’t end with installing your theme. If you create and install a child theme, with a bit of HTML and CSS you can go even further into personalising your blog.

Don’t be put off by the thought of writing code. It really isn’t as scary as it sounds.

Just make sure you’re using a child theme before you go this far into customising your theme. The last thing you want is to spend days agonising over styles only for your theme to be updated and your changes all overwritten.


A wordpress theme is a collection of files that set out how your blog should look and feel. All themes will come with some degree of personalisation and you can take it a step further by creating and editing a child theme.

You can install a wordpress theme in one of two ways, either searching via the themes screen in your WordPress dashboard or by downloading a zip (compressed) file from another website and uploading it to your blog using the theme screen.

Which theme do you use on your blog? Let me know in the comments or if you have any questions you can leave them in the comments too.

You may also enjoy:

Join the Need for Speed 5-day free blog challenge

Everything you need to know about using a WordPress Child Theme

How to Optimise Images for blog posts

2 Comments on “How to install a wordpress theme in 3 easy steps”

  1. Hi Kim,

    Just following on from your point above about free themes, I’ve used a few in the past, and while they were generally OK, I experienced quite a few restrictions due to coding issues and because the features were severely limited. I also noticed that they weren’t updated anywhere near as quickly as the premium themes I’ve purchased, meaning there might be delays to getting new features or delays receiving updates to ensure complete compatibility with the latest version of WordPress.

    I couldn’t be happier since sticking with using a premium theme. Like you, I’ve chosen a theme that has a visual page builder element, and it simplifies everything massively. The time saved from needing to do minimal HTML/CSS coding more than offsets the original price of the theme.



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