The 3 Steps to Install a WordPress Theme
The 3 Steps to Install a WordPress Theme
A WordPress theme is all about the front end optics and aesthetics. Essentially, it’s what a visitor sees as your website.


Every good WordPress site should employ the right theme to look professional and inviting. In this guide, we break down how to get a theme installed and running on your site.

If you’re one of the millions of people using WordPress to build and manage your business website, it’s crucial to understand theme settings. This includes not only their role in how your website looks but also how themes operate and are installed.

Overview: What is a WordPress theme?

A WordPress theme is all about the front end optics and aesthetics. Essentially, it’s what a visitor sees as your website.

A WordPress theme is a collection of multiple files working together to create what is seen when you visit the site, its overall layout, and how it behaves in use. For WordPress alone, there are thousands of free themes.

These WordPress theme installations allow for several building options, too, including variations in static or responsive layouts, content blocks, design and typography, media embedding, etc.

Depending on how you intend to use WordPress, the variety in theme functionalities can play a big role.

3 ways to install a WordPress theme on your business website

With a CMS as big and robust as WordPress for creating your site, there are several avenues for uploading a theme to WordPress.

1. Search the themes directory

Your WordPress CMS has a directory that comes preloaded with available and easily installable themes. Since there’s no WordPress website cost, many of these included theme options are also free.

2. Install using File Transfer Protocol (FTP)

File Transfer Protocol (or FTP for short) is an external application designed to allow you to transfer data and files between computers or servers on a network. The FTP software can be used to transfer and upload WordPress themes to your library.

3. Upload themes manually

You can also choose to upload themes manually. With this method, you’re not limited to ones already included with WordPress since you can import the coded design of almost any outside source.

How to install a WordPress theme using the theme search feature

With the variety of free theme options right in the WordPress directory, you can search and install your favorite without having to look outside the content management platform at all, making this option super stress-free.

1. Access the directory

On the administrative toolbar at the left of your WordPress backend, click on “Appearance” and then click on “Themes.” From there, select “Add New.”

2. Refine your search

Using the feature filter, you can select criteria to filter for whatever requirements your searched themes must meet. When you have finished selecting your criteria, click “apply filter” to narrow down the search.

3. Select your theme

The filter criteria will return theme results that match the parameters of your search. You can hover over the theme options to learn more and then bring up the "install" option to activate your theme.

You should see a notification informing you that the new theme is activated. From there, you can view your site's appearance as it looks live.

How to install a WordPress theme with the FTP tool

Using the FTP tool is a great option for introducing an outside theme, especially if you have lower upload limits on your hosting service. Bear in mind, though, that it is definitely something that requires developer knowledge and skills, so it may not be the best option for beginners.

1. Make sure the file is downloaded

First things first: The theme’s zip file needs to be downloaded to your computer desktop and unzipped. It will give you access to a new folder full of the theme’s data files.

2. Upload files to your website

To do this, you must first connect to your WordPress website using an FTP client. Once you have successfully connected, navigate to the /wp-content/themes/ folder. That’s where all themes currently installed on your website will be living in labeled folders.

3. Select the new theme

From your desktop, select and upload your newly unzipped theme folder. Once uploaded, you only need to go to your admin toolbar in WordPress and click “appearance” and then “theme.”

Then, just as with WordPress-included themes, you can hover over it to “install” and “activate.”

How to install a premium theme using the upload section

You can also manually install themes yourself via the WordPress uploads section, whether the themes are free or purchased elsewhere.

1. Make sure the file is downloaded

Just as if you were using an FTP client, the theme’s zip file first needs to be downloaded to your computer desktop and then unzipped to give you access to a new folder full of its data files.

2. Upload to the directory

Again, use the toolbar to click on “appearance” and then “themes,” but this time, rather than browsing or searching, select the “upload theme” option and choose your theme folder from your desktop. Hover and click “install” and then “activate.”

3. Preview

Use the ability to view live to see how your new theme makes your site look while it’s live to the public to be sure everything is in working order.

FAQsAre all WordPress themes free?
The majority of themes included in the WordPress library are free, and you can source many free themes externally from other developers as well.
If you need more advanced capabilities from a theme, you may have to pay for it, whether through the WordPress marketplace or a third-party source.

Can I change up my theme?
Yes. Themes built for WordPress are designed to be interchangeable. You may have had the same layout for years before you decide it needs revamping.
WordPress themes preserve and protect your content when uploaded and activated, changing just the site visuals (and potentially adding new capabilities), but they don’t erase the core of your work.
To be safe, though, it’s recommended to first do a WordPress backup of your site’s existing data and files just in case something does go wrong.

Is it hard to change a WordPress theme?
As with pretty much everything else related to site building, it can be as easy or detailed as you make it to switch up your WordPress theme.
For complex needs and development-savvy people, you can externally source themes and use third-party FTPs to upload. But it can also be just as simple as browsing available WordPress themes and activating one on the backend.

The importance of a good theme template

How your small business website looks and functions tell a visitor a lot about your brand. From capabilities to ease of use, the general aesthetics of your overall layout, content placement, and font usage, a visual first impression means a lot.

It doesn’t have to be some custom coding nightmare to set up a cohesive experience. With WordPress themes, you can ensure a professional look for all pages and have an easy time updating and refreshing the website as needed.