This is a guide on how to choose, and activate, a WordPress.org Theme.
I’m sharing my personal criteria for choosing a free WordPress Theme, then I’ll explain how to install and activate it.
This guide was written with someone new to WordPress.org in mind, but is suitable for anyone wanting to change their WordPress Theme.
Warning: Before changing your Theme, make sure you backup your website (and save any CSS attached to your current Theme in a text document, as this will disappear when a new Theme is activated).
Busy? Save a link, or my Pinterest Pin, for later.
Notice: This is a general guide, based on my personal experience and/or opinion. It may not be suitable for everyone, and should not be taken as advice. Please seek a professional if required.
Choosing A WordPress.org Theme
If you go to WordPress.org/themes/browse/new, you’ll find that there are currently 7,113 offered. I always get my Themes from the directory. It can be difficult to simmer 7,113 Themes down to a smaller number to choose from.
Themes are important to the security of your website, and that’s normally the first thing on my mind. Here are 5 basic steps I take when selecting a new free Theme:
1. Do you like the look of it? Preview the Theme and decide if you actually like the design/layout of it.
2. How many users does it have? I’ll reject a Theme if it doesn’t have tens-of-thousands of users. You can find out how many websites are using a Theme by selecting it from the WordPress.org Theme directory. On the Themes page, you’ll find the ‘Version:’ number, and below that, ‘Active Installations:’.
3. Read the worst reviews: I’ll read the WordPress.org Theme reviews to get an idea of how professional the developers are, and how they’ve handled problems in the past. The older a review, the less weight I’ll give to it.
4. Go-to the Theme preview site: Most Themes have a complete preview website, where you can interact with it live. You can find the site address on the WordPress.org Theme page, or the Theme developers website. This is a good place to see widget placements and so on.
5. Try it out: I may preview the Theme and start modifying things, checking it’s what I want.
Installing A WordPress.org Theme From The Directory
Login to your WordPress.org website and roll-over the ‘Appearance’ tab in the sidebar. That will generate an option list with ‘Themes’ at the top. Press ‘Themes’ to load the Themes page.
On this page you’ll see all the Themes loaded onto your WordPress website. Press the ‘Add New’ button at the top of the page.
Now on the ‘Add Themes’ page, you’ll be offered the choice to ‘Upload Theme’, or browse Themes from the WordPress.org directory. The filter options are: Featured, Popular and Latest. You can also use the search bar to the top-right, to find a Theme by name.
Find your chosen Theme. If you hover over it, you’ll see an option to ‘Install’ it. Install it.
Now you have an option to ‘Activate’ your Theme. Once Activated, it is installed and running on your website.