What kind of WordPress theme do I have: classic, block, or something else?

Learn how to quickly identify what kind of theme you are using on your existing WordPress website.

Learning outcomes

  1. Identify what kind of theme you are using on an existing WordPress website.

Comprehension questions

  1. What type of theme do you have if you see the navigation button “Editor” in the left-hand sidebar?
  2. What type of theme do you have if you see the navigation button “Customizer” in the left-hand sidebar?
  3. What is the most likely scenario if you see a totally different editor in your WordPress website?
  4. If you see both “Customize” and “Editor” in the left-hand sidebar of your Appearance section, what two things could explain this?


Welcome to Learn WordPress. Today’s lesson is about quickly determining which type of theme currently exists on your WordPress website, a block theme, a classic theme, or in some cases, something else. By the end of this lesson, you will be able to identify what type of WordPress theme you have on your existing WordPress website. Let’s get started.

The easiest way to identify the type of theme your WordPress site is using is to head to your WordPress dashboard and click on appearance. What do you see in the left hand column?

If you see the button labeled editor, this means you are most likely using a block theme, which uses the site editor.

The site editor gives you the user lots of additional control over the overall look and feel of your website. Much of what is available to learn on learn.wordpress.org involves primarily block themes, so do keep that in mind. Meanwhile, if you do not see the “editor” button in this left hand sidebar, look for the word “customize” in its place. This button means that you are most likely using a classic theme, which uses the customizer, not the site editor. A quick note before we move on: do not confuse “theme file editor” with site editor, which sometimes appears in this menu with some hosts.

The customizer looks like this, sometimes with more or fewer options, and creates a preset structure for the overall look and feel of your website. It’s great for users who prefer simplicity or who want to get started quickly, but will require additional code to make changes to the look and feel of the general website. If you see both “customize” and “editor” in this same sidebar, not this “Customize” button right here to the right (which appears on both block and classic themes) you may be using a hybrid or universal theme. They’re rare, but they do exist and use elements from both classic and block themes.

Additionally, some plugins still require the customizer when active, even if you’re using a block theme. If you’re not sure, you can deactivate each plug in on your website to determine what kind of theme you are using.

If you realize that you are seeing totally different dashboards than what are pictured in this tutorial, you might be using a page builder plugin such as Elementor, Beaver Builder, Divi or others. Click on “plugins” to see what you might be using.

And there you have it. You should now be able to determine which kind of theme you are using with WordPress. To learn more about WordPress, please visit learn.wordpress.org. If you’re looking for a change, search for the seven minute long “Choosing and installing a theme” tutorial. See you around!

Workshop Details


Sarah Snow

WordPress educator and/or mad scientist; my professional hobbies include breaking WordPress websites in front of audiences, investigating simple solutions to odd problems collaboratively, and designing lesson plans and courses for learn.wordpress.org. Ask me about caring for parrots, training stubborn Shar Peis, cooking super spicy recipes, learning American Sign Language & French, teaching and writing. Changing the narrative one story at a time.