What is a WordPress theme?

A WordPress theme is a collection of files that control the design & layout of your WordPress site. Themes control things like:

  • typography & fonts
  • colors & backgrounds
  • page width & sidebar styling
  • navigation menu placement, design & dropdown functionality
  • responsiveness (how your site looks on various devices)
  • and many other aspects of your site’s design

Read on to find answers to some common questions about WordPress themes.

Where’s the best place to find WordPress themes?

Before you start looking for WordPress themes, it’s important to decide whether you’re searching for free or premium themes.

The largest source of free WordPress themes is the theme repository (over 2,700 free themes).

There are two premium theme marketplaces we recommend:

We have also compiled our own list of the best WordPress themes in different categories:

How to Install a WordPress Theme

There are two main ways to install a WordPress theme:

  • Install a free theme from the theme repository, directly from your WordPress admin area
  • Upload the .zip file of a theme that you download from a third-party

Install Free Themes via the WordPress Admin Area

Install WordPress theme via Customizer
Click image for larger version

To install a free theme hosted on…

  1. Login to your WordPress site at
  2. Navigate to Appearance > Customize
  3. Next to the name of your active theme, click the Change button
  4. Click on themes
  5. At the top of the screen, use the search bar or Filter themes button to find a theme you like
  6. Click the Install & Preview button

From here, you can preview your theme in the WordPress Customizer, and make any necessary changes before activating the theme.

  1. When you’re happy with how things look, click the Activate & Publish button

Install Premium Theme by Uploading .zip File

Upload a WordPress theme by .zip file
How to upload a WordPress theme from a .zip file

To install a premium theme from a third-party, you’ll need to upload the theme’s .zip file. You can following these steps:

  1. Login to your WordPress site at
  2. Navigate to Appearance > Themes
  3. Click the Upload Theme button
  4. Click on Choose File, and select the .zip file of your theme
  5. Then click Install Now

Now that your theme is installed, you have two options on the next screen:

  1. Live Preview – This will open the WordPress Customizer, and allow you to customize & preview the theme before applying it to your site (best option for existing websites)
  2. Activate – If you’re building a new site and haven’t launched it yet, you might just want to activate it right away.

How to Edit a WordPress Theme

There are a few different ways to edit a WordPress theme. Please use the links below to learn more about each method.

WARNING: It is strongly discouraged to edit a theme’s files directly. Theme authors will make updates, and these could erase all of your changes. It is also easier to break your site while editing a theme directly.

I hope this provided you with a good background on what a WordPress theme is, and answered some of your questions. If you need help installing a theme or finding the best theme for your project, please let me know and I’ll try to help out as best I can.