WordPress Tutorials
How to Install WordPress Themes

How to Install WordPress Themes

“How to install WordPress themes” is a common question beginners ask. WordPress is a flexible CMS that allows you to customize its looks by installing a theme. Developers and designers create WordPress themes that you can accustom to your needs with little to no coding experience. You can literally choose from thousands of free or premium themes.

Тhemes incorporate a wide range of functionalities that enable you to customize the looks and feel of your site. To be able to take advantage of that, you have to install a theme on your site. However, a WordPress theme installation is the easy part. The more challenging part is selecting a suitable theme for your WordPress website.

In this article, we’ll guide you on what is a WordPress theme and what to look for in a theme. We’ll also show you how to install a theme in a few different ways.

A WordPress theme is a stack of interconnected files – style sheets, templates, images, and code – that form your site’s front-end visual appearance. Most themes allow you to control design elements like colors, page layout, fonts, and widget locations on your website.

Themes are essential to WordPress; without one, your site wouldn’t be fully functional. Therefore, WordPress comes with a default pre-set theme you can customize or switch when you pick a new one.

It is important to know that only one theme can be active on a WordPress site at a time.

Developers and designers create WordPress themes to aid users in building their websites without any coding. There are tons of free and Premium WordPress themes to choose from and install on your site. Once you are ready with that part, WordPress themes allow you to customize their looks and functionality to best present your brand.

There is a difference in theme vs. template – a template defines the layout of one page, while the theme contains various templates you can choose from.

In short, a theme defines your site’s visuals and design. You can tweak and modify a WordPress theme to make your website look exactly like you want it. Moreover, these customizations can help build your brand’s visual recognition and consistency.

How to choose a WordPress theme?

Although there are many WordPress themes to choose from, finding the right one is challenging. Starting a theme hunt is something you should plan for in advance, or maybe prepare a list of features to look for.

Here we’ve outlined a few tips to help you find the perfect theme for your WordPress website.

Paid vs. Free WordPress Themes

As we mentioned above, there are plenty of great free and Premium WordPress themes. We’ve prepared a comparison below to help you distinguish the pros and cons of paid and free themes.

Free themes

  • With a free theme, you can experiment without investing or losing any funds, so that gives you certain flexibility.
  • All free themes available in the WordPress.org repository are officially approved.
  • Free themes are usually compatible with all the free plugins.
  • There is little or no support at all with free themes, but you can always ask others in the WordPress community.

Free themes have inevitable setbacks, like being used by many websites, making it rather difficult to count on uniqueness. Their lack of support may cause you to seek the assistance of a professional developer when you encounter issues. Still, if you prefer to start with a free theme, make sure it is compatible with the WordPress Coding Standards.

Premium themes:

  • Usually, a premium theme is backed by the developer’s support team. Thus if you’re having trouble, you can rely on the theme’s support service.
  • Investing in a paid theme is worthwhile because it includes a whole lot of premium features.
  • Regular updates take care of bugs and patch vulnerabilities. Typically, WordPress theme developers strive to keep them up to date, so they can meet the industry standards. A paid theme that is up to date improves your overall website security.
  • Trusted theme developers strive to maintain the compatibility of their products with the latest WordPress releases.

Now that you’ve been introduced to the differences between paid and free themes, you can decide if you are willing to invest. Keep reading to learn some general guidelines to consider while searching for your new theme.

Suitable design for your brand

A theme should complement your brand and help appeal to your target audience. If you aren’t sure what theme suits your line of work, you may check what type of themes your competitors use. You can do that with the help of web tools like IsITWP, which checks whether a site is built with WordPress and gives you insights on what theme or plugins are in use.

Light and easy to customize

Your theme should be light and easy to customize to facilitate your site-building. Too many features can slow down your website’s performance or overwhelm your audience. Furthermore, it should give you control over layout, color schemes, fonts, and widgets.

Themes that include a Page builder are even easier to work with as they add drag-and-drop capabilities.

Thus, we advise looking for a theme that can easily adapt to your brand’s impression without excess clutter.


A responsive theme assures that your site fits all screen sizes, so your site can maintain a consistent appearance. Therefore, selecting a responsive theme that displays all your desired content and features on all devices is essential.


Search engines will attempt to crawl, then index your WordPress posts and pages. If your theme is poorly-coded, causing your site to be slow or unresponsive, it may affect your ranking. Moreover, a well-written theme code runs faster, contributing to your site’s speed optimization and user experience.

Regular Updates

Frequent updates ensure that your theme can keep up with WordPress’ evolution. WordPress core and plugins get regular updates that fix bugs and vulnerabilities. Thus, you should go for a theme that gets frequent updates from its developers.


The theme of your choice should be compatible with all browsers like Safari, Google Chrome, and Mozilla Firefox. This compatibility will guarantee your website looks the same in all browsers.


Premium themes include support services to your package. The support perk allows you to contact the theme’s dev team for help if you have any theme-related issues.


If you plan to change your active WordPress theme, you must prepare your website first. If you already have a running online business and you just want to freshen up your site’s looks, you’d change your current theme.

Changing a theme that was active for some time means that it most likely holds content you’ll want to keep with your new theme.

If that is the case for you, generate a backup of your WordPress site, ensuring you can revert back to it if anything goes wrong.

Alternatively, you can create a Staging copy of your site to perform the theme switch on it without affecting your live site. Once you are ready, you’ll be able to deploy the changes to your live site.

To avoid losing any content while switching to a new theme, read our article on How to change a WordPress theme.

How to install a theme through the WordPress Theme Repository?

The basic approach to installing a theme is through the WordPress Theme Directory. The themes you’ll find are all derived from the WordPress repository and are free to download. The WordPress theme directory offers only themes that comply with the WordPress Coding Standards.

In this section, we’ll guide you through installing a free WordPress theme from the WordPress theme directory, so read on.

  • Step 1.Log into WP Dashboard

    To begin with, you’ll need to log into your WordPress Dashboard. That is the administrative area from where you can add content, plugins, and themes and manage your WordPress site.

  • Step 2.Navigate to the Theme Directory

    Once logged in, navigate to Appearance > Themes from your Dashboard’s left sidebar.

    Appearance Themes section WordPress

    In that section, you’ll find all the default themes that come with WordPress or other previously installed themes.

    Installed themes list WordPress
  • Step 3.Add a new theme

    To add a new WordPress theme to your list, click on the Add New button in the upper-middle part of the screen.

    Add new theme button
  • Step 4.Select a theme that suits your needs

    By clicking the Add New button, WordPress will launch a screen where you’ll see a list of the most popular themes. You can browse through that list and choose the most appealing one for you.

    Popular themes WordPress

    Alternatively, if you have specific features in mind, you can take advantage of the Feature Filter on top of the page. The Feature Filter allows you to select your website’s subject, what type of features the theme should provide, and your preferred layout.

    Features filter WordPress

    With the filter, you can specify what your website is about or what industry your business is in. This way, WordPress will show you themes from that particular category.

    You can also select particular features you are keen on and how the theme should be layed-out. In the Layout section, you can choose whether the theme layout should have one or more columns and where the sidebar should be positioned.

    In case you already know which theme you want, you can type its name in the Search bar on the right side of the screen. Once you enter the name, WordPress will display the theme in all its topic versions below.

    Search for a theme by name

    Hover over the theme so you can see the Preview button to check out the theme in action. This way, you’ll be able to grasp the theme’s impression better and maybe decide on how you wish to customize it for your content.

    Preview theme
  • Step 5.Download

    When you find the theme you are interested in, you’ll need to install it. To do that, simply click on the Install button in the theme’s thumbnail.

    Install WordPress Theme

    Allow some time for WordPress to download your desired theme, and when it’s ready, you’ll see a confirmation message.

    When the installation is complete, you can preview the theme’s features by clicking on the Live Preview button.

    Theme live preview
  • Step 6.Activate

    The last step of the WordPress theme installation process is activating the one you’ve downloaded. You can do that by hitting the respective Activate button.

    Activate a WordPress Theme

    Then WordPress will replace your active theme with the new one.

Install a theme using the upload method in WordPress

We’re excited to offer a free theme installation for all our customers who purchase a hosting account through our dedicated Envato/ThemeForest landing page. If you’ve bought a theme from Envato/ThemeForest, let us install it for you at no extra cost. Request the complimentary free theme installation from your Client Area -> “?” icon in the top right corner -> View Help Center -> Contact Us -> Transfer or set up a new site -> Themeforest and Elegant Themes set up. Fill in the required information in the form and our Support team will take care of the installation for you!

If you decided to invest in a Premium theme, like Divi (by Elegant themes), you’d need to upload the theme to your WordPress. One way to do this is by using the Upload Theme button in your WordPress Dashboard.

In this section, we’ll show you how to install a WordPress theme from a zip file, so read on.

  • Step 1.Get the theme archive (zip) file

    If you have purchased a Premium theme, you must download the zip file from its vendor. The zip file incorporates all the folders and files that make a theme. Once you have stored the installation file on your computer, you can proceed with the next steps.

  • Step 2.Log into WordPress and go to the Theme section

    To start the installation, you’ll need to log into your WordPress Dashboard. Then navigate to the Appearance > Themes section.

    Appearance Theme WordPress
  • Step 3.Add new

    When the Themes section launches, click on the Add New button to proceed with the installation.

    Add new theme button
  • Step 4.Upload the installation file

    Next, click on the Upload Theme button to reach the dialogue box for uploading a file from your computer.

    Upload Theme button

    Then hit the Choose file button, and you’ll be able to browse the files on your computer for the zip file.

    Choose a file to upload

    Once the file is uploaded, you can install it by hitting the Install Now button.

    Install Theme from zip
  • Step 5.Activate your new theme

    WordPress will show you a “success” confirmation when it completes the installation process. Under the confirmation, you will find the Activate button to set your WordPress site with the new theme.

    Theme installed
  • How to install a WordPress theme using FTP?

    If for some reason, the Dashboard upload of the file fails, you can perform a manual install of a WordPress theme. Most (if not all) WordPress hosting providers allow connecting to your site files via FTP.

  • Step 1.Choose an FTP client

    An FTP client is an application that allows you to establish an FTP connection to a hosting server. You can use various FTP clients, and for this example, we’ll use FileZilla.

  • Step 2.Create an FTP account from your hosting control panel

    To log into your account via FTP, you’ll first need to create an FTP account that authorizes you to access your site files.

    SiteGround clients can create an FTP account from their Site Tools for the respective website. Navigate to Site > FTP Accounts, then set up a name and a password to complete your FTP account.

    Create FTP Account Site Tools

    Make sure to save the password you’ve set for this FTP account because you will need it later.

    When the FTP account is created, you can alter the directory to which this account is associated. This will facilitate your access to the WordPress file structure, as you can directly see the files and folders in it.

    You can change the home directory of your FTP account by clicking on the Actions menu next to it and selecting “Change Home.”

    Change home directory for FTP account

    A dialog box will load, where you should specify your WordPress site’s directory. Normally, the root directory for a SiteGround site’s install files is the public_html, which is the folder we’ll specify.

    Type new directory

    In case you’ve previously changed the directory for your WordPress, you should specify the path to the folder where your installation is.

    When your FTP account is all set, you can grab the FTP credentials needed for FileZilla. To do that, click on the Actions Menu > FTP Credentials and copy the details.

    Get your FTP credentials

    Note that if your domain name is already pointed by DNS to SiteGround, you can use your domain as the FTP Hostname. Alternatively, Site Tools will display the server name where your site is hosted as the FTP Host.

    FTP Credentials
  • Step 3.Download the zip file of your chosen theme

    If you haven’t acquired the theme zip file yet, now is the time to download it to your computer. In this example, we’ll be working with the Astra theme. Once you get the zip file – unzip it, and the folder will usually be named as the theme. Store it where it’ll be easy to find, like on your Desktop.

  • Step 4.Connect via FTP

    We reached the point where you’ll need your FTP credentials from Step 2 to establish an FTP connection to your site.

    FileZilla has a straightforward interface that asks you to enter your FTP host, user, password, and FTP port. Type in your FTP credentials in the appropriate fields and then click Quickconnect.

    Connect via FTP File Zilla

    When you establish an FTP connection, you will see your site’s root directory listed on the right side of the FileZilla screen. Click on the arrow on the left of the “/” directory to expand the directory tree and see all your site files and folders.  In this step, you need to find the wp-content > themes folder, where all your themes’ files are located.

    wp-content themes folder
  • Step 5.Upload the theme file to your WordPress directory

    Now that you’ve accessed your themes folder, you can upload the “astra” folder in it. To do that, first, locate the archive file from your computer on the right side of the FileZilla screen. Then select the file and drag and drop it into the themes folder on the right side.

    Astra Theme Uploaded

    FileZilla allows you to monitor the upload process at the bottom of the interface. When the upload is complete, you’ll have your theme’s folder listed on the right side, where your site files are.

    Drag the Astra folder

  • Step 6.Log into your WordPress Dashboard and activate the theme

    The last step to install a WordPress theme manually is to activate it from your Dashboard. After logging in it, navigate to Appearance > Themes to find your Astra theme uploaded and ready for activation. To do that, hover over Astra’s thumbnail and simply click on the Activate button.

    Activate Astra theme

Customize your theme and add plugins

With a new WordPress theme installed, you are one step closer to creating a wholesome impression of your website. Customize your WordPress theme according to your preferences to make your brand appeal to your target audience.

You may add plugins to expand your website’s capabilities and feature set. For example, if you decide to run an e-commerce website, you’ll need the WooCommerce plugin to sell products. WordPress plugins allow you to add new features, improve security, apply speed optimizations, or even customize elements.

In short, installing plugins in WordPress is one of the main methods of adding functionality to your website.


To wrap it up, one of the first steps in creating your site is to select a suitable WordPress theme. In this article, we discussed the pros and cons of free vs. paid themes and a few other tips to help you on your theme hunt. Furthermore, we showed you how to install your chosen WordPress theme in three different ways.

Now you’re armed with every piece of knowledge required to choose and install the best-fitting theme to build a stunning WordPress site.

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