WordPress Skills Guide: Working with Themes

When it comes to WordPress, customizing the look of your site is simple and straightforward. When you install WordPress, the default (or pre-set) theme is called Twenty Twenty (as of WordPress version 5.3).

In addition to Twenty Twenty, we provide a few other themes for you to explore. If Twenty Twenty doesn’t meet your needs, you can activate another theme on your site or install a completely new one.

Activating Themes

  • Start at your site’s Dashboard.
  • Navigate to Appearance > Themes.
  • You will see thumbnail images representing each of the themes that you currently have available on your site. Simply mouse over any one of them, and click the Activate link.

That’s all you need to do to change the look of your site with a new theme.

Installing Themes

If none of the themes that were provided when you installed WordPress are what you’re looking for, you can always search for and install other themes from the WordPress Theme Repository.

  • Navigate to Appearance > Themes.
  • Installing new themes is quite simple. You start by going to the Add New Button
  • The initial page is the Search Theme page. You can use the filters available or check Featured and Popular themes.
  • Under the thumbnail picture of each theme (when you hover your mouse over the theme) are three choices. You should see links to Install or Preview the theme.
  • After you install the theme, it is still not active on your site. You will need to Activate it to use it.
  • Once activated, your site will be using the new theme. Visit your site’s homepage to view your new theme.

Customizing Themes

Almost all WordPress themes allow you to change various options via the theme customizer (Appearance > Customize). However, since themes are created by different developers/companies all over the world, they vary tremendously in terms of features and options. When you install a new theme, you will need to do some digging around and experimenting to figure out how to make it work for you. Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Explore all the options available through Appearance > Customize and see what changing them does to the look and feel of your site.
  • Search online for “[NAME OF YOUR THEME] WordPress theme” to find the official WordPress theme repository page for your theme. (You’ll know it’s the official page if the URL starts with “https://wordpress.org/themes/”) Here, you’ll find a description of the theme and a “View Support Forum” button. On the support forum, you’ll find questions (and hopefully answers!) from other users.
  • Look for a link to “Theme homepage” on the official page. This may take you to a Web site of the developer with documentation, FAQs, etc.
  • Google “[NAME OF YOUR THEME] WordPress theme documentation” This may give you results that lead to the developer’s online support materials.

NOTE: Many themes these days will come free with an option to upgrade (for a price) to a premium version. We encourage you to find a free theme that works for you while you are developing your ePort as a student.


AR 1065 Design & Meaning Handbook Copyright © by Phil Lonergan. All Rights Reserved.

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