Learn how to install a website template to your WordPress website in 4 beginner-friendly steps.
Note: this guide is for WordPress only, the free-st and best-est way to make a website.
First, in WordPress, templates are called “Themes”. Themes are templates, and templates are themes. When searching for a WordPress theme, make sure the theme actually says “WordPress” on it.
There are thousands of WordPress themes out there. Picking a good one can be tricky, but adding it to your WordPress website is easy. In this tutorial, I will show you how to add a custom website design template to your website. If you need help finding a good theme, please see this guide.
If the theme says it’s made with just HTML and CSS, chances are it won’t work on your WordPress website. The template should say WordPress somewhere. To check if a theme you found will work, follow the steps below. If it’s not the right kind of template, it will tell you, and it won’t hurt your website.
Steps to Use a Website Template in WordPress
Step 1: Backup
First, before you install a website template, make a backup. No really, do it. Do you really want to risk losing your website? I use a plugin to automatically backup and store my website, so I don’t have to worry about it. Or, a good hosting company will do this for you. But just make sure you really do have a backup before moving on.
Step 2: Download the Theme (Template)
Every theme maker does this a different way. Some themes are free, some are paid, but one way or another, you should be able to download it to your computer. If you’re not sure how, ask in the comments below, and I can give you specific instructions.
Once you’ve downloaded the theme, you should have a .zip file on your computer (e.g. ThemeName.zip). If you can’r find it, look in the Downloads folder or the Desktop on your computer.
Step 3: Upload the Website Template
Now that you have the theme on your computer, you can upload (put in the cloud) the theme, so you can install the website template on your website. Go to your website’s Admin Screen (e.g. www.example.com/wp-admin).
On the sidebar on the right, click Appearance (with the little paint brush icon) .
Now you are looking at a list of all themes you already have installed. WordPress comes with a few starter ones. At the top of the page, find the Add New button and click it.
The next page will show you some free themes you can install if you want. But we’re not doing that. At the top, click the Upload Theme button
New things appear at the top. In the middle, a button That says Browse… is now available.
Click that Browse… button, and your computer will open a new window, and ask you where your theme you want to upload is on your computer. Find the .zip file from step 2, and double-click on it.
The new window will disappear, and you will be back looking at the same screen as before, only now, next to the Browse… it should have the name of the file you just uploaded.
Click where it says Install Now and WordPress will install your theme. BUT, it’s not ready yet, one more thing.
Step 4: Activate your Website Template
The page will reload after a moment, and if all goes well, you should see some text saying the Theme installed successfully. Below that text, there are some options, click on the Activate link.
Final Notes & More Resources
You did it! You now know how to install a website template in WordPress. Take a look at your website’s homepage (by clicking on the name of your website in the upper-left), and see what it looks like. If you don’t like the way your new theme looks, go find another one, and repeat the steps above.
If you already have words and pictures on your website, they might be jumbled up on the new theme. This happens because every theme is made by a different company, and has different ways of making themes. Sometimes you have to fiddle with a new theme to get it right. To avoid this problem, stick with one theme company that makes lots of themes, then if you need to change the theme, stuff won’t get so mixed up.