How to Install a WordPress Theme

WordPress is one of the most SEO-friendly website building platforms. It has many elements that help you create a competitive website. When you start creating a website with WordPress, one of the first things is to install a WordPress theme. A WordPress theme changes the design of your website, including the page layouts.

There are two ways you can install a theme for your website: choosing a theme from a WordPress repository or using a pre-downloaded theme's .zip file from your computer. Read on and find out:

  • How to install a theme from the WordPress theme repository;
  • How to install a downloaded WordPress theme from a .zip file.

You will also learn how to set up your installed WordPress theme, plus, I will show you a unique way of how you can modify or edit your theme's default settings which in many cases is not possible without knowing the coding.

Let's get started.

Access Install Theme Functionality In WordPress

The first thing you need to do when you want to install a new WordPress theme is to access the install theme functionality from your WordPress admin. To do so, follow these two simple steps:

Step 1: Log in to your site admin page (

Step 2: Navigate to Appearance → Themes

WordPress Dashboard Appearance - Theme

Once there, you have two options on how you can install WordPress theme on your website:

  • Install a theme from the official WordPress theme directory;
  • Upload a theme you have downloaded on your computer via a .zip file.

Let's see the difference between these two options.

WordPress Repository Theme vs Manually Downloadable Theme (.zip)

All themes included in the WordPress repository are free and trustworthy themes. Trustworthy because they have passed all WordPress requirements that are considered a good theme.

WordPress themes have one specific database where they are all stored. You can access it from the Theme Directory via WordPress official site, or straight from your WordPress admin panel: Appearance - Themes.

Manually downloadable themes are usually Premium themes or those who have not gone through a rigorous way to include the theme in the WordPress database. They can be found all over the place: theme marketplaces or for sale or download on the developer's own website.

Here you can look into the collection of the best WordPress themes that will be a great choice for any kind of web project.

If you choose a theme from the WordPress repository, you can be sure of its quality. However, if you prefer the Premium theme, it will give you additional features, more customization options, and support.

Now that you know the difference, let's move on.

How to Install a Theme From the WordPress Theme Repository?

All it takes is six simple steps. After these steps, your website will have a new theme installed. If you want to change it later, just install the next theme.

Step 1: Log in to your site admin page (

Step 2: Navigate to Appearance → Themes

In the Themes section, you will see the default WordPress theme and all the themes that you have previously installed. To add another one, follow the next step:

Step 3: Click on the Add New button

WordPress Theme Repository

Step 4: Search for the theme inside the WordPress repository

Each theme in the official directory has tags that describe its functionality allowing you to easily search for the right theme using specific keywords.

The WordPress theme directory is categorized in the featured, popular, lately added and favorite themes. You can also select feature filters and search for the specific kind of themes. For example, filter eCommerce theme that has a full-width template, and a three column layout.

WordPress Themes Feature Filter

Or, if you know the theme’s name, you can simply search for it directly from the WordPress admin. After you spot the theme you like, follow the next step:

Step 5: Hover the theme and click the Install button. After the installation process is complete, you are at the final step:

Step 6: Click Activate to set the new theme active.

Now look at your website and evaluate if the new theme will suit you. Perhaps everything is fine, but some adjustment is needed. If you want to learn how to set up and customize your theme, read the following paragraph: How to Set Up Your Installed WordPress Theme.

But before that, let's look at the steps to install a WordPress theme using the .zip file.

How to Install a Downloaded WordPress Theme From a .zip File?

If you have chosen a theme outside the official WordPress theme repository or received a .zip file you will need to perform the following steps, four of which you already know.

Note, before jumping straight to the WordPress admin, first you will need to find a theme you want to download and save it on your computer. There are heaps of theme marketplaces out there, so simply using Google search for needed theme parameters will give you loads of options.

Now that you are all set, let's install your WordPress theme manually from a .zip file.

Step 1: Have a .zip file of your theme stored locally on your computer.

Visual Composer Starter Theme .zip file download

Step 2: Login into your WordPress Admin Dashboard (

Step 3: Navigate to Appearance – Themes

Step 4: Click the Add New button

Step 5: Click the Upload Theme

Step 6: Choose File – select .zip folder that contains your theme files

WordPress Theme Upload

After the installation process is complete, you are at the final step of installing your WordPress theme using a .zip file:

Step 7: Click Activate to set the new theme as your active theme.

WordPress Theme details

That’s it! You can now go to the front-end of your site and see the newly activated theme. If there is something that you want to change, you can always customize your WordPress theme.

Let's see how it can be done.

How to Set Up Your Installed WordPress Theme?

Each WordPress theme allows for more or less customization. This can be a color change or other font imposition. Occasionally, you can change the position of the page and adjust the header and footer. Take advantage of the Customization options your theme offers and start customizing.

Go to Appearance - Themes, hower your installed theme and click on Customize.

The theme I use as an example is the Visual Composer Starter Theme. It allows you to change the background image and set the Menu location. You have the ability to show feature image, enable or disable theme header and footer.

Customize WordPress Theme

In addition to this, you can change the font and styles. Code experts can add their own CSS to customize the look of the topic even more. This theme is unique for its flexibility and will fit all kinds of web projects.

How to Modify Theme's Default Settings Using Visual Composer Theme Builder?

Unique projects require unique themes. Tailored to detail to find symbiosis with the company's image and brand. Ready-made themes, however flexible, will always hold you in some frame. They will not allow full rewriting capability.

In this case, the Visual Composer Theme Builder will be useful to you. It works on the basis of your installed WordPress theme but gives full permission for its redesign.

Visual Composer Page Layouts

Visual Composer header, footer, sidebar editor along with the page layout option works just like a theme builder for WordPress. You can choose from different page layouts, create own header, footer templates. Apply custom layouts for all or specific pages.


Installing a WordPress theme is easy and quick. You can use free themes found in the WordPress database or find a theme anywhere else on the Internet and install it manually using the .zip file.

After installing the theme, you have the option to customize it for your website style. If you want to bring your theme closer to your brand, an advanced theme builder will allow you to create a unique design and page positioning nuances.