Choosing and Installing a Theme

There are thousands of free themes in the official directory and at least as many in the commercial space. In this session, we will learn about the different types of themes as well as how to find and evaluate a theme. Furthermore, we will look at how to install, update and delete a theme. Lastly, we will discuss where to go if you need support.

Learning outcomes

  1. Recognize the enormity of themes available to the consumer.
  2. Explain the four types of themes.
  3. Describe how to find and evaluate themes.
  4. Demonstrate how to install and delete a theme.
  5. Demonstrate how to update a theme.
  6. Accessing support for your theme.

Comprehension questions

  1. What type of theme are you interested in using?
  2. What types of themes use the Site Editor?
  3. Where are some suggested places to locate themes?


  1. Theme repository
  2. Exploring types of themes


Hi, and welcome to Learn WordPress. Today’s session is all about themes. Here are the learning objectives for this workshop: to differentiate between the four different types of themes, to find and evaluate themes, to install and update your theme, and lastly, to access support for your theme. Let’s get going.

In short, a theme is basically a website template with a certain layout and design. When you use WordPress, your content is completely separated from its presentation. This means that the look and feel of your site can change completely by just using a different theme while your content will remain the same. There are thousands of free themes available in WordPress, but there are also premium themes available outside of the theme repository. Many free versions also offer premium themes from the developer or theme-selling site.

When you open a theme and click on Preview, you will get an idea of what can be achieved if this theme is selected. Please note, the thumbnail of the theme is an example or suggestion and won’t look the same when the theme is installed. WordPress and its themes have evolved over time. The Gutenberg block editor introduced the use of blocks to compose posts and pages. With full site editing, the experience and extendibility of blocks are now available to all parts of your site. Within full site editing, are a collection of features, and classic themes can opt-in to use some of them.

There are four types of themes to take note of: block themes, classic themes, hybrid themes, and universal themes. It might be helpful to mention that block themes and classic themes are most commonly used. A block theme is a theme that uses blocks for all parts of the site, including navigation menus, headers, content and footers. These themes allow you to edit and customise all parts of your site, and something important to take note of, the Site Editor is used to manage theme settings instead of the Customizer.

Let’s look at an example of a block theme, and remember, these themes are newer and were made for full site editing. Make your way to Appearance and click on Themes. I have activated a block-based theme called Twenty Twenty-Two, and in the sidebar settings, you will notice you have access to the Editor. Everything from Menus, Widgets, and everything in the Customizer are all integrated into the Site Editor. In the Site Editor, you can edit the header and footer template parts directly, you can set up templates and also change the site-wide styles of your site.

A classic theme does not use the block editor to manage the site layout beyond posts and pages. These use the Customizer, Menus and Widgets to make changes to theme settings, and since classic themes have been around the longest, there are many more to choose from. Let’s take a closer look at an example of a classic theme. When we make our way to Appearance and click on Themes you will notice I have activated the Twenty Sixteen theme. And in the sidebar settings, you will have access to the Customizer and more, and when you open the Customizer, you will be able to change all your theme settings from here.

A hybrid theme is a classic theme that adopts some features of full site editing, like the Template Editor. A hybrid theme such as Excel still uses the Customizer to make changes while also being able to create your own custom templates. So let’s make our way to posts to see this in action. Open one of your posts and go to the sidebar settings on the right, and here you will be able to create a new template and assign it to which page or post you wish to. So hybrid themes have access to the Customizer and the Template Editor.

And lastly, a universal theme is a theme that can be configured completely either way; as a block theme or classic theme. In this example, I have installed the universal theme Emulsion and as you will notice, you have access to the Customizer, as well as the Editor.

To find more themes, make your way to and click on Themes. The WordPress theme directory is the official site to search. You can easily find the right one for your site with advanced search features. Click on Feature filter and here you can use filters for layout, subject and specific theme features. This includes finding block themes that support full site editing. As you search through the different themes available, you can click on More info to find out more about the specific theme and then scroll down so that you can see when it was last updated, as well as the ratings. Version updates, Active installations and Ratings can give a good sense of the overall experience others have had with this theme.

To install a new theme, make your way to Appearance, click on Themes and select Add New. Once you find the theme you are looking for, click on Install, and once installed, don’t forget to click on Activate. If you have a theme in the form of a zip file, you can install it manually. Click on Add New, and then at the top select Upload Theme, and then you can upload it from your computer.

If there are updates available, you will be notified in the top menu bar as well as the Dashboard menu. You can navigate to the updates page and scroll down, and here you will find a single theme or a list of themes that have updates available, and from this page, you can choose to update individual themes or all at once. And remember to backup your website before making any updates or consider using a child theme. Another option is to make your way to Appearance, click on Themes and go to the theme that needs to be updated, and at the top you will have the option to select Update now or click on Theme details, and at the top, you will also be able to update, and lastly, you also have the option to enable auto-updates for this specific theme.

To delete a theme, select the relevant theme and at the bottom right, you will have the option to Delete. To get support, make your way to the theme directory, select the relevant theme and scroll down to Support. The best way to get help with a theme is by going to the theme’s related support forum to ask questions or view other tickets.

I trust you will find the right theme that meets all your needs. Visit Learn WordPress for more workshops and training material.

Workshop Details


Wes Theron

I am an Instructional Designer for the WordPress open-source project sponsored by Automattic. I am a strong supporter of the open-source movement. I have a background in education and content development. I am a husband, father, dreamer and lifelong learner.