The success of your WordPress site highly depends on the theme you use. We have already explained the difference between free and paid WordPress themes. In this article let us explore more on how to manage themes on your WordPress site.
How to Manage WordPress Themes?
Whether you use free or paid theme, it is necessary to understand the following theme management topics:
- Installing theme from WordPress admin panel
- Installing theme using FTP
- Changing the active theme
- Updating theme
- Modifying theme files – Creating child theme
- Using multiple themes on single site
Finding a Theme for Your Site
When you complete your WordPress installation, the site will have the default twenty seventeen (or twenty eighteen in future) theme. You have two options to choose an alternate theme:
- Search a free theme from WordPress theme repository
- Purchase a premium theme from third party vendors
Searching for a Free WordPress Themes
Navigate to “Appearance > Themes” menu in your WordPress admin panel. Here you will see all installed themes on your installation.
The theme management section has the following options:
- Navigation menu to go to Themes section
- View the active theme name
- Option to customize the theme by going to live customizer
- Get the details of a theme
- Activating any of the installed theme
- Live preview any of the installed theme
- Add new theme
- Navigation menu to go to theme editor
- Search box to search themes from the installed themes, if you have many installed on your site
- Updating to latest version
- Getting help on theme management
The one showing as “Active” is the one used on your site currently. Click on the “Add New” button to go to the repository.
WordPress theme repository is the place where you can find a free themes for your site. The section is classified into multiple groups like featured, popular and latest for easy filtering. Also use “Featured Filter” option to filter the themes based on layout, features and subject. Once you like any of the theme, select it and install on your site. All those themes installed on your site will show with an indication as “Installed”.
Why You Should Purchase a Premium Theme
Remember there is no such free thing in this world. The free themes available on the repository are mainly for showcasing purposes from the theme sellers. They will offer basic or limited version for free and ask you to upgrade for getting all the features.
Some typical examples include footer link to theme’s owner, upgrade required for slider, etc. Generally these kinds of restrictions are not suitable for business websites though personal sites can be fine with them. But the important aspect of using free themes is the availability of support. The theme author may or may not support the free themes actively and you may be in trouble if the theme is conflicting with any other installed plugins. So it is safe to go for a premium theme from popular shops so that the support is assured.
Installing Theme from Admin Panel
Once you have finalized a free theme or purchased a premium them the next step is to install it on your site. Go to “Appearance > Themes > Add New” and install the free theme from the list.
Uploading a WordPress Theme from Admin Panel
If you have downloaded a premium or free theme outside WordPress repository then click on the “Upload Theme” button when adding a theme. Upload the zipped theme folder and click on the “Install Now” button.
You will see the progress bar running on the status bar showing the percentage of completion. Once completed the screen will show the details like below with options to live preview and activate.
Click on the activate link to enable the theme as active theme for your site.
Installing Using FTP
For any reasons if you are not able to install a theme from admin panel then login to your FTP account. Navigate to “/wp-content/themes” folder and upload the unzipped theme folder. This will install the uploaded theme which can be seen under “Appearance > Themes” section from the admin panel.
Remember you need to use the ZIP file for uploading through admin panel while you should use the extracted theme folder for uploading through FTP.
Generally the available updates are shown in the admin panel for all the themes. You can click on the “Update now” link to update the theme to the latest version.
It is also possible to view and update the themes under “Dashboard > Updates” menu.
Some premium themes need a plugin or a new install every time for updating. For example, if you have purchased themes from mythemeshop, you should install a plugin called “mythemeshop-connect” to get the updates.
Modifying Theme Files
Practically it is very difficult to find a single theme which will be fulfilling all your needs. Most of the time you will be ending up in modifying the core theme files like functions.php to get the required feature.
All theme files can be modified under “Appearance > Editor” menu. Remember all changes you have done will be wiped off when you update the theme with new files.
- Editor menu
- Choose the theme
- Choose the file to edit
- Edit the content and save
WordPress will also shown an warning message when you go to the editor section.
So the best way to modify your theme is to create a child theme and use the modified files separately without mixing them with the main theme’s files. You can learn more on creating child theme in a separate article. Also check out how to delete your WordPress theme.
Using Multiple Themes on a Single Site
There are situation you would like to use different themes on your site. There is a plugin for supporting multiple themes on your single WordPress installation. But we never recommend to do this with the plugin.
First ensure all themes you use are having an appropriate license. Then install WordPress separately on subdirectories or subdomains and upload the required theme. In this manner, you can control each theme as a separate installation without mixing them up.