The beauty of WordPress is that it is easy to make your website look great. The way you do this is by installing WordPress Themes. A theme doesn’t change your blog content, but simply improves the look and feel of the blog. For this reason, you must be very choosy about your theme, because it can make or break your blog!
Free WordPress Themes
There are tens of thousands of free themes available for WordPress. Hundreds of sites offer them. To find a few, just search Google for “Free WordPress Themes,” find a few websites that offer them, and start browsing!
The downside to this is that many of these free WordPress Themes are poorly coded, and some might even have security flaws. So if you are going to go with a Free Theme, I recommend you stay within the Free WordPress Themes which you can access and install right from inside your WordPress Dashboard. These are more reliable and trustworthy than some of the sites that are out there, and some of them actually have support forums and websites.
To get a free theme from WordPress, click on Apperance and select “Themes.” From here, you can manage the themes you have installed, or you can search for and install new themes.
Personally, while the search function works okay, I prefer to select free themes by browsing them.
I have used the free Arras Theme with great success in the past. It is still my favorite free WordPress theme, and so I will use it as an example on how to install a free WordPress theme.
Once you find a free theme that you like, it is simple to install. All you have to do is click “Install.” I will not be using the Arras Theme, but I am showing it to you as an example.
After it downloads, you need to activate it. From your Dashboard, you go back into Appearance > Themes, and find the Theme you just installed, and click “Activate.” Voila!
That is all there is to it.
However, there are some drawbacks to free WordPress Themes. While some of the free WordPress themes are beautiful, well-coded, and have regular updates and support forums, most do not. Also, many of them lack some of the options and search engine capability that most of the premium (paid) themes have.
So I have gone with a premium theme for this site, and the process for finding and installing them is a little bit different.
Premium WordPress Themes
If you are going to use a Premium Theme, I highly recommend the Standard Theme by 8Bit.io. It is what I am going to use on this site, and all the customizations and tips will be related to the Standard Theme Framework. The reason I chose it is because the code is top of the line, it has many great options, is highly customizable, has a great support forum, many of the top Christians bloggers around the country use it, is SEO ready, and has a great affiliate program. Seriously, it’s a great theme. Click here to read more about it.
As I customize this blog, I will be showing you specifically how to do it on the Standard Theme, but many of the same principles and ideas will apply to other themes as well.
But whether you buy a Premium Theme or download a free WordPress Theme from another site, you cannot just install them from inside WordPress. Instead, you need to upload it to your website.
This process if very similar to the installation of WordPress itself. After you purchase the Theme you are going to use, you will have to download it to your hard drive. To keep things consistent, I download it right into the folder I created previously which will hold all my GraceBlogger files and folders. Again, since I am using Standard Theme, you can see that I have saved it to my GraceBlogger folder.
As with the WordPress files we downloaded, the theme will come compressed, and needs to be unzipped.
Then, you are going to log in to your website using FileZilla or your preferred FTP program, and upload the Theme Folder into the wp-content/themes directory on your website.
As the files upload, watch the mesmerizing green bar and flashing lights as the files upload. I love this part!
Once it is all finished (it should go quick. There are only about 170 files this time), jump back into your Blog Dashboard, Select Appearance > Themes, and Activate the Standard Theme.
Once you have done this, you will be greeted with this screen, which shows the theme is active:
Do you see on your Dashboard the left you have another menu item for the Standard Theme? Not all Themes have this, but the better ones usually do, which allow you to customize and tweak your theme to fit your personality and blog content better.
Since I am using the Standard Theme, I will show you how to make some basic customizations to it, but we’ll save that for a different post.
Right now, take a look at your front page, and see what has changed:
Kinda boring, right? No problem. We’ll spice it up in no time.
But first, we need to prepare a few more things and add a few plugins so we can be well-prepared for posting our very first blog post!