How to Install a WordPress Theme (In 2020)

David Boustead
David Boustead
June 18, 2020 5:47 pm

So you’ve got a fresh WordPress install up and running and now you’re ready to personalize your new website or blog in a way that fits properly with your company’s brand and image, right? You’re probably now wondering how to install a WordPress theme.

WordPress is used on approximately 36.4% of all websites on the internet! Aside from being an absolutely amazing and robust piece of software, the fact that it is open-source contributes to its huge market share. 

Because WordPress is free to use, it’s insanely popular, and it’s so easily customized, there are many options available for dressing up your WordPress install in a way that will perfectly aline with your brand and image. 

There are two primary routes to take when installing WordPress themes:

  • Installing themes “automatically” through the Dashboard
  • Uploading and installing themes “manually” through the Dashboard

The manual theme uploading and installation is typically what you will run into should you download or purchase a theme from a third-party themes marketplace.

Let’s take a look at the step-by-step instructions for a simple install.

How To Install Automatically Through the Dashboard

  • Log Into Your WordPress Dashboard

You’re going to start off by going to your WordPress dashboard. You will need to go to the /wp-admin URL of your WordPress install. 

Ex: or

  • Go To The WordPress Themes Section

Using the WP Dashboard menu, go to Appearance -> Themes 

  • Add A New Theme

Once you make it into the Themes section of your WP Dashboard you will be brought to a screen that shows you a list of any themes that may currently be installed. From here you can configure or Activate any of the themes listed below simply by hovering your mouse over the Theme image and clicking Activate.

OR, you can continue with choosing and installing a new theme to your WordPress install. Above all of your currently installed themes is a button that says Add New. Click that button so you can proceed.

  • Find Your Perfect Theme!

From here you can browse themes that are popular, themes that staff have featured, and see themes that have been recently uploaded. You can also search through the themes database to find something that suits your needs.

When creators upload these themes they will tag them with various keywords. Searching allows you to pinpoint exactly what it is that you’re looking for.

Once you find a theme that you want to build off of, hover your mouse over it, and click the blue Install button.

  • Activate & Customize!

After installing your theme, that blue Install button will turn into a button that says Activate. Activating the theme makes it go live on your current WordPress Install

Once your theme has been activated you will then be able to start customizing your freshly-installed WordPress theme. 

How To Manually Upload Through The Dashboard

Whenever you download (or pay for) a theme through a third-party marketplace or provider, you will need to manually upload the theme’s files to your WordPress’ theme directory. In the past this would have to be done manually with an FTP connection. These days the wonderful folks at WordPress have made it a lot easier.

Log into your WordPress Dashboard using the steps above, and navigate to the Themes section under Appearance.

  • Add New 

Just like in the steps above, click the Add Theme button at the top of the Themes page.

  • Upload a .zip File

At the top of that same page, you can now click Upload Theme. This will expand the header of the Themes page to include a section for you to upload your theme’s .zip file. Any theme you download or purchase from a third-party marketplace should be delivered in a compressed .zip file.

  • Activate & Customize Your Freshly Uploaded Theme!

Once your theme has been uploaded and installed you will see a blue link to Activate your freshly uploaded theme or a link to do a Live Preview of your theme.

Learning How To Install A WordPress Theme Isn’t Hard!

It can seem overwhelming when trying to install a new WordPress theme, especially if you’re brand new to the wonderful world of WordPress. Many new users worry that they will “break something.” Thankfully though, WordPress is a very forgiving and resilient piece of software. 

Once you’ve installed your theme you can now start customizing your theme to make it look and feel exactly like you want it to. Because different WordPress webmasters, users, and bloggers all have different goals in mind, and because many themes operate differently, we would need an entirely new article to walk you through the various ways of customizing your WordPress theme.

Many WordPress themes have great support guides and customization walkthroughs. Even the free themes! Look around, try out the different customization options, and if you need help along the way, don’t be scared to ask!



David Boustead
David Boustead
Helping our partners move forward through Strategy, Design, and Development. Maybe more to come as well. Lorem Epsom goes down and around the rabbit whole and then down and up and around again and again and then over and around and down.

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