How to Install WordPress Theme: 3 Easy to Follow Steps

Install WordPress Theme

Want to install WordPress theme? Is there more than one way to install a WordPress theme?

There’s more to a WordPress theme than meets the eye. Not only does a theme make your website look good, it impacts the performance and thereby, the user experience of your site.

With 9300+ free WordPress themes available and a good number of premium themes too, you must pick one that’s just right for you.

Once you narrow down on THE one, it’s all about installing the WordPress theme and customizing it to suit your website requirements.

And that’s precisely what is covered in this article.

I start with what a WordPress theme is and then show how to install WordPress theme. I also cover factors to be considered while selecting a theme.

Let’s begin!

What is a WordPress Theme?

A WordPress theme is a bundle of files that help define the look and feel of your WordPress site. Once installed, the WordPress theme sets the tone across your entire site. The colors, typography, and page layouts are all part of your WordPress theme.

How to Install WordPress theme

Typically, the WordPress theme doesn’t affect your content, instead, it alters the way it is displayed for your website visitors.

Most themes give you complete customization flexibility, allowing you to modify the code, add plugins and even insert widgets.

As indicated earlier, currently there are well over 9300 free themes in the WordPress repository. Simply put, there’s a theme for just about any niche that you are in.

Some of the common WordPress themes are Astra, Ocean WP, Neve, Kadence, Generate Press, among thousands more.

With so many themes to choose from, how do you narrow down to the perfect one?

Things to Consider Before You Install a WordPress Theme

Most WordPress themes look great. Be it for a website you are building from scratch or if you are revamping your existing website, a theme gives your site the added spark.

With that being said, there’s more to a theme than just its look and feel.

Did you know that themes impact the page load speed?

For instance, my favorite WordPress theme, Astra, is feather-light and loads in under 0.5 seconds. The theme is built for speed and fully optimized for performance.

Here’s a thumb rule you could follow when selecting from the WordPress theme repository.

Select any theme of your preference. For instance, click on the Astra theme. Yes, again! 🙂

Astra WordPress Theme

Notice the highlighted portion in the image above. You know, the one where it shows you the version, last updated date, number of active installations, among other details.

Frequently Updated

When selecting a theme, look for one that’s been updated regularly.

Developers have their themes updated periodically which could include upgrades, security enhancements, bug fixes (if any), and more.

By installing the latest version of the theme, you ensure that your website has the best of what the theme has to offer.


Which version of WordPress do you have installed? What’s the version of PHP running on your server? Is your theme compatible with the two?

In addition to both the WordPress and PHP versions installed, ensure your theme is compatible with the plugins installed on your site.

While this shouldn’t be a showstopper, some themes come bundled with a few plugins that may create a conflict with your existing plugins.

In such cases, it does help to have this checked early on.

Ratings and Reviews

A great indicator and yardstick for how well a theme performs are to check its ratings and reviews. A 5-star rating for a theme would surely help.

Check the reviews posted by fellow WordPress users. This should give you a fair indication of how well (or not so well) a theme performs.


Wouldn’t it be great to get a little help when you need it the most?

Themes offer you extensive documentation and a knowledge base that you can fall back on. Some themes have a dedicated support team that can assist you too.

Want priority support? Upgrade to a premium theme!

Free vs. Premium WordPress Themes

There are free themes and there are premium ones. You could select one based on your website requirements.

If you are just starting or creating a standalone website, most free themes should do just fine. As you scale, you may need more features and functionality.

In such cases, you could consider the premium version of the theme. Not to mention, premium themes offer you a priority and dedicated support as well.

3 Easy Ways to Install WordPress Theme

Ready to install a WordPress theme?

We’ll start with the most common (and easiest) way to install a theme.

1. Install WordPress Theme Using the WordPress Theme Directory

From your WordPress dashboard, head over to Appearance > Themes and click on Add New.

Install a WordPress Theme, Add New

You’ll find several free themes to choose from.

You could either select from one of the options displayed or key in your preferred niche, such as blog, business, eCommerce, consulting, and more, in the search field provided.

Add New Theme, Search Field

Once you find your preferred theme, you can preview it by clicking on the ‘Preview’ button.

Preview a WordPress Theme

Want to go ahead and install the theme? Simply click on Install and then the Activate button.

For instance, I’ve gone ahead and clicked on the Install and Activate button for the Hello Elementor theme.

New theme activated

Once that’s done, your theme is live. Your website will have a new look and feel.

You can choose to tweak your website by simply clicking on the Customize button, against your active theme.

And that’s how simple it is to install a WordPress theme from the theme directory.

2. Manually Install WordPress Theme

The second method involves you having to upload a .ZIP file. And before you assume this is going to be complicated, let me squash that thought and say, it’s pretty straightforward!

To begin, download your preferred theme from the WordPress repository.

For instance, download the Astra theme.

Download the Astra WordPress Theme

A .ZIP file should get downloaded on your local system, which in this case is ‘’

Now, from your WordPress dashboard, head over to Appearance > Themes and click on Add New. This time, click on Upload Theme.

Add WordPress theme, Upload Theme

You now have the option to upload your .ZIP file.

Select the file you just downloaded and click Install Now.

Click Install Now

Once installed, click on the Activate link.

Installing a WordPress Theme

And just like that, your theme has been installed.

New WordPress Theme Activated

You can customize the theme and tweak it to suit your website requirements.

3. Install WordPress Theme via an FTP Client

The final method is by using a file transfer protocol (FTP) client, such as FileZilla, or by even using the file manager from your hosting control panel.

In this method, you connect to the live server and transfer files from your local computer to the live site. It’s like moving files from one folder to another.

To use an FTP client, such as FileZilla, you will require the FTP credentials, which can be accessed from your hosting account.

If you do not have the FTP credentials, you can always create one. Simply look for FTP Accounts (or something similar) in your hosting control panel and create a new account.

Create FTP Accounts

Alternatively, you can use the file manager.

I prefer the file manager. All you have to do is access the control panel provided by your hosting solution.

For instance, if you use Bluehost, you’ll find the file manager under the Advanced tab.

BlueHost Control Panel, Advanced Tab

Click on File Manager and navigate to the /wp-content/themes/ directory. This is where all your theme files are stored.

Bluehost Control Panel File Manager

I’m assuming you already have the theme’s .ZIP file downloaded on your local computer. We will need to upload the contents of the file to the live site.

First, unzip the downloaded file on your local computer. Now, using the navigation menu in the file manager, upload the contents of the folder under the /wp-content/themes/ directory.

Click on +Folder to create a new folder. You could retain the theme’s name as the new folder name.

Create a New Folder using File Manager

Then using the Upload menu option, go ahead and upload the files from the local system to the live site.

File Upload Using the File Manager

Once you’ve transferred all the files, head back to Appearance > Themes on your WordPress dashboard and you’ll find the theme installed.

And that’s how you install WordPress theme using an FTP client.

FAQs on Installing a WordPress Theme

Here are some frequently asked questions on how to install a WordPress theme.

How to install WordPress theme from .ZIP file

You can download a WordPress theme as a .ZIP file. Once you have the .ZIP file on your local computer, navigate to Appearance > Themes from your WordPress dashboard and click on Add New. Now click on the Upload Theme button. You have the option to select and upload the .ZIP file. After selecting the file, click on Install Now and then activate it.

How to install WordPress theme on a self-hosted site

To install a WordPress theme on a self-hosted site, simply head over to Appearance > Themes > Add New from your WordPress dashboard. You can either search for a theme based on your niche from the WordPress repository or you can upload a theme that you’ve downloaded. Once you’ve identified a theme of your preference, simply install and activate it.

How to install WordPress theme from Themeforest

When you purchase a WordPress theme from platforms such as Themeforest, you get to download it as a .ZIP file. All you have to do now is to head over to Appearance > Themes > Add New from your WordPress dashboard and click on Upload Theme. Select the file you just downloaded, then install and activate it.

How to install WordPress theme in cPanel

cPanels allow you to access your website files through the file manager. To install a WordPress theme using cPanel, navigate to the /wp-content/themes/ directory using the file manager. Assuming you have a .ZIP file of your theme, upload the files to the themes directory. Once you are done, you will notice your new theme under Appearance > Themes.

Conclusion: How do You Install WordPress Theme

Themes make your WordPress website look good. It defines the colors, typography, page layouts, and more. Additionally, WordPress themes impact your site’s performance.

While narrowing down on a theme, select one that not only looks great but is also optimized for speed and performance.

Once you have selected THE one, it’s all about installing the WordPress theme.

In this article, I’ve covered three simple methods to install a WordPress theme. Which of the above three methods do you use? Do let me know in the comments below.

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