How to Install A WordPress Theme On Your Blog or Website: A Detailed Guide
Installing a WordPress theme is simple.
But sometimes, it can be tricky too.
If you’re doing it for the first time, or if you have a premium theme you got from a place other than the WordPress theme repository, then it can be complex to install.
Regardless of the reason, it’s important to install your WordPress theme correctly.
Because if it doesn’t happen, your site may break down.
But don’t worry — we’ve got you covered.
We’ll tell you in detail about 3 methods of installing a WordPress theme.
Each of the methods is useful for a particular kind of situation, and by the end of this article, you’ll have no confusion about how to install your WordPress theme.
Pre-requisites: Before You Install A WordPress Theme
Installing and activating a new theme will completely change the appearance and functionality of your website.
Now, if you’re installing your first theme on a new WordPress blog/site then it’s no big deal.
But if you’ve got a fully-functional website that attracts traffic and you’re going to change your theme, then there may be problems.
That’s why it’s important to take a backup of your site before you get started with this process.
The backup will help you revert your changes and get your website working fine like before in case something goes wrong.
There are many backup plugins in the WordPress plugin directory to help you with the backup process.
You can also create a backup from your web hosting dashboard if that’s how you prefer to do it.
Method #1: Installing A WordPress Theme Through the Theme Directory
This is the simplest and easiest method to install a WordPress theme on your website.
If you are not a technical person, we would suggest you follow this method instead of the other two explained in this guide.
Step #1: Navigate to the ‘Add New Themes’ page
Login to your WordPress admin dashboard and navigate to Appearance >> Themes. It shall bring you to a page like this:
This is the Themes page of your WordPress dashboard.
On this page, click on the ‘Add New’ button.
Step #2: Choose your theme
In the search bar given on the Add New Themes page, type the name of your desired theme and search for it.
You can also find WordPress themes by searching a particular keyword (i.e. the name of a feature, your industry terms, niche, etc.).
Once you get the results, browse among them and choose the theme you like.
You can even try a theme you find compelling by using the Live Preview function.
Step #3: Installing the theme
Once you’ve selected a theme, you can install it by clicking on the ‘Install’ button.
The theme will be downloaded and installed on your server.
Step #4: Activating the theme
Once the theme has been installed, you’ll get a success message on your screen like the one shown below.
You’ll also see a button to Activate the theme. Click it to activate the theme on your website.
Method #2: Installing A WordPress Theme Using the Upload Method
This method works when the theme you want to install is not included in the WordPress theme repository.
You can download the theme to your computer from its official website, and then install it manually by uploading it through the WordPress dashboard.
Step #1: Obtain the .zip file for the theme you want to install
First of all, you need to obtain the theme you want to install in a .Zip folder.
If it’s a Premium theme then you might have received a link in your email to download its .zip file when you purchased it.
If it’s a free theme, you can download the .zip file from the official website of the theme developer. Find it and download it to your computer.
Step #2: Prepare the theme for upload
Next, you need to upload the .zip file of the theme to your WordPress directory.
Before uploading, make sure the folder you’re going to upload has the theme files (PHP files of theme) directly inside the Zip folder itself.
The theme files should not be located inside any other folder within the main zip folder, and there should also not be any other files (i.e. PDFs, images, etc.) inside the folder.
Otherwise, the installation will fail.
Step #3: Upload and Install the theme
Now navigate to the same Appearance >> Themes page in your WordPress dashboard, and click on the ‘Upload Theme’ button.
Image source:Upload Themes Page
Once you’re on the upload page, browse for the .zip file of the theme on your computer and upload it.
Once the theme is uploaded, WordPress will install it and you’ll be shown a status message telling whether the installation was successful or not.
Step #4: Activate the theme
Once the theme is installed, you can activate it from the upload page itself.
Otherwise, you can also navigate to the Themes page which shows all themes installed on your website.
You’ll find your theme there, and you can Preview it or Activate it with the click of a button.
Method #3: Installing A WordPress Theme Through FTP/SFTP
This method is for developers and other advanced technical users.
If you prefer uploading files to the server through an FTP client, this is the method for you.
This method is also for situations when a theme you need to install is heavy and its zip file gives issues in uploading it through the WordPress dashboard.
Step #1: Obtain your FTP/SFTP Credentials
The first step is to find out your FTP/SFTP credentials if you don’t already know what they are.
You can find them within your hosting dashboard (i.e. cPanel dashboard) under the FTP accounts section.
They’ll consist of 3 things:
- A hostname and port
- A username
- A password
Image source: Catalyst2.com
You can view or copy the credentials of your FTP account by clicking on the ‘Configure FTP Client’ option.
If you don’t see any such credentials under the FTP accounts hosting dashboard, you can create a new FTP account.
Since the exact steps to do this vary for different hosting providers, we can’t go into those details here.
You can take help from your hosting company’s support team for that.
Step #2: Log in to FileZilla with your FTP Credentials
Once you have an FTP account and you know its credentials, download and install the FileZilla FTP client to your computer (if you haven’t done it already).
Once installed, launch it to establish a secure FTP connection between your computer and web server by following the process outlined below:
- Enter your domain name in the hostname field, FTP username in the username field, password in the password field, and port number (if any) in the port field.
- Once you have entered all the details, click the ‘QuickConnect’ button.
- A secure FTP connection will be established to your web server and you’ll see the success message saying “Directory Listing Successful”.
- If this doesn’t happen, and you get an error message instead, make sure your hostname, port number, username, and password are correct and try again.
If you still face any issues, take a look at this detailed tutorial explaining how to use FileZilla.
Step #3: Upload WordPress Theme Files
Once a successful FTP connection has been established between your FTP client and your web server, the files in your web server will be visible in the center of the FileZilla window inside a box on the right side.
Image source: WikiData
The left side will show your local files stored on the computer in another box.
Now follow the process outlined below to upload your theme:
- To upload your theme, navigate to the public HTML >> wp-content >> themes folder inside the box on the right side.
- Once the content of the themes folder is visible, navigate to the local folder on your computer where the .zip file of theme you want to upload is stored. You need to unzip it and extract its content.
- After unzipping, drag and drop the unzipped theme folder inside the FileZilla window where the content of your server’s ‘Themes’ folder is showing.
Now sit back and relax. Allow all the files to upload.
If some files fail to upload because of disconnection or any other error, re-select them from the queue in the bottom section of FileZilla and re-upload them.
All files should be uploaded inside the theme folder.
Step #4: Activate the Theme
Once your theme has been uploaded using the FileZilla FTP client, you need to activate it.
Login to your WordPress dashboard and navigate to Appearance >> Themes page.
You should find your theme showing up on the Themes page now.
Click the Activate button below it to make it live on your website/blog.
That was our guide explaining the 3 methods of installing a WordPress theme.
As you can see, each of the methods works best for a particular kind of user or situation.
You can choose the method of your choice depending on your preferences and circumstances.
We hope we were able to explain each of the methods properly and answer all your questions about it.
If you still have any questions, feel free to share them in the comments. We shall try our best to answer them at the earliest.