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WordPressing with style part 1: themes

Sure, content is king, but without some hip design features, you’re headed for the dustbin of Web 1.0. Read on, reader, to find links to the best selection of themes, an easy to use generator to customise your own theme and instructions on how to make that theme work on your site.

WordPress themes: how they work and where to find them

Themes are what makes a WordPress site look completely different to another WordPress site, and can be altered at the click of a button. They tell WordPress what colour, font and size each text block should be, they provide certain images to the header and footer and add information to a sidebar or two. To apply a theme you need to (a) find it, (b) download it, (c) upload it then (d) choose it. Some of them even have further options, such as changing the colour scheme. Let’s start at (a): finding a theme.

It’s easy to google ‘wordpress’ and ‘theme’ to find a bunch, but many cost money. And I’m here to help. WordPress has a bunch of official themes which you can browse by selecting them according to colour, fluidity, how many sidebars they have and how well they work with widgets. Check it out here:

Theme viewer

You might want to just cut to the chase and check out a list of great themes. Here are three fellow bloggers that have compiled extensive lists of stunning themes:

83 beautiful WordPress themes you (probably) haven???????t seen
The best minimalist WordPress themes
Top ten best free wordpress themes and templates

Fancy having a dab at designing one yourself? There are two theme ‘generators’ available that allow you to make the decisions and see the results as you make them:

WordPress theme generator (that’s what I used to design this site…) or
ThemePress (charges $10.00 though…)

Alternatively, if you’re really keen and know a bit of php (the language that gets used to communicate with the WordPress database) then why not try writing one from scratch yourself.

Once you’ve found a theme you like, there’s generally a link to download the theme as a compressed file (either .zip or .rar). Go ahead, download it to your desktop, extract the files to your wp-content/themes directory, upload the folder to your site then head to your WordPress installation’s ‘Presentation’ tab. For my son’s blog, I tried a number of themes, they’re all there at the bottom of the image below:

Wordpress theme presentation screenshot screen shot

Once you have uploaded your theme to WordPress, a screenshot ought to appear of the below the ‘Current theme’ as an ‘Available Theme’. Click on it, WordPress will update the entire site with the new theme. Click on ‘View site’ to see how it looks. Fancy a change? There’s a plug-in that switches the available themes randomly. Interested? Let’s look at plug-ins in the next edition of the Information Handyman…

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