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
  3. Intro to the Site Editor
  4. Using page templates
  5. How to use the WordPress Stylebook with your block theme
  6. Exploring global styles and the stylebook
  7. Using block patterns



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. Let’s look at an example. Here, I am using the Twenty Twenty-Three default theme. In the next example, I have installed and activated the Bounds theme, which has a very different look and feel to it. But the content remains the same. It is also important to highlight that your site won’t look the same as the thumbnail or example pages of the theme you install and activate. It is merely an example of what can be achieved and sometimes requires specific plugins to be installed to achieve the initial appearance. There are thousands of free themes available in WordPress, but there are also premium themes available outside of the theme repository. But please take note that many free versions also offer premium packages.

Types of themes

You might be asking, what type of themes are there? 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 the most commonly used and that block themes are the future of WordPress.

Block themes

Let’s start by looking at block themes. A block theme uses blocks for all parts of the site, including navigation menus, headers, content, and footers. Block themes allow you to edit and customize all parts of your site within the Site Editor. Let’s see a block theme in action. I will make my way to Appearance and click on “Themes”. I have activated a block-based theme called Twenty Twenty-Three and in the left sidebar, you will notice we have access to the Editor.

If we click on Editor, we will be taken to the Site Editor and here you are able to create and edit pages. You can create a draft page or edit one of your existing pages. Next, we can also change the site-wide styles of our site. Or we can customize the appearance of specific blocks for the whole site. The Site Editor also allows you to set up templates. You can add new templates or edit the templates that come with your theme. Lastly, you can also manage a variety of patterns, patterns that you have created yourself, or header and footer template part patterns that we, of course, add to templates.

I realize that some folks might be unfamiliar with terms like styles, templates, etc., so please check out the resources below this video to learn more. There is also a wonderful new feature that allows you to preview a block theme before switching. When you hover over the block theme, you will see a button Live Preview. When you click on Live Preview, you will be taken to the Site Editor. So not only are you able to preview the site, but you also get a taste of the Site Editor. Now, you can go ahead and make any changes or customizations as you please. I will, for example, change the style variation and also change the font of the text. Now, we can explore our pages, our templates, etc. If you like what you see, you even have the option to activate and save the theme and the changes you have made.

Classic theme

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. 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. In the sidebar settings, you will have access to the Customizer and more. When you open the Customizer, you will be able to change all your theme settings from here. Please note block themes, on the other hand, provide greater flexibility for designing and customizing your website.

Hybrid theme

A hybrid theme is a classic theme that adopts some features of site editing, like the Template Editor. A hybrid theme such as Eksell still uses the Customizer to make changes while also being able to create your own custom templates. So let’s make our way to pages, open one of your pages, and go to the sidebar settings on the right. Click on Templates, and here you are able to assign a page to a different template or create a custom template.

Universal theme

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

Searching and adding a new theme

Next, let’s talk about searching and adding a new theme. To add a new theme, go to Appearance and click on “Themes”. At the top, click on “Add New”. You can search for the most popular themes the latest themes that’s been added, and there’s even a designated area for block themes. When you click on a theme, you will be able to see more details about the theme as well as a preview. When you click on Feature Filter, you will be able to search for themes according to subject, features, and layout.

What makes a good theme? To review a theme, make your way to, hover over Download and Extend, and then click on Themes. Here, you can search for a variety of themes. Once you find the theme you are looking for, click on More info to find out more about the specific theme. On the right-hand side, you will find all the information you need to make an informed decision. When you look at the version updates, active installations, and ratings, it will give you a good sense of the overall experience others have had with this theme.

Installing and activating a theme

How do I install a 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. Then, you can upload it from your computer.

Updating your theme

What about updates? 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. From here, you can choose to update individual themes or all at once. Remember to backup your site before making any updates or you can consider using a child theme. A child theme is a sub-theme that inherits the look and feel of the main theme and all of its functions. Using a child theme lets you upgrade the parent theme without affecting the customizations you’ve made to your site. Customizations are kept separate from the main theme’s files. But I’ll add a link to this in the resources below. Another option is to make your way to Appearance, click on Themes, and go to the theme that needs to be updated, 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. Lastly, you also have the option to enable auto-updates for this specific theme.

Deleting a theme

How do I delete a theme? To delete a theme, select the relevant theme. At the bottom right, you will have the option to delete.

Getting support

Lastly, how do I get support? 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 the 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 tutorials 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.