How to use WordPress: Changing Theme in 4 Simple Steps

This short “How To Use WordPress” wordpress web development tutorial will guide you through Changing Theme in 4 Simple Steps on your existing wordpress website.

Quick checklist before you start:

  • Make sure you’re already in your wordpress dashboard (login at
  • You’ve done your theme research and know which theme you want to use.

Great Tip: Take a look through a site called ThemeForest for inspiration about which themes you can use! They’re an amazing, always expanding, resource for WordPress themes. Highly recommended! Here’s the link: ThemeForest WordPress Themes.

If you’re unsure about what theme to pick, you have two basic routes: free or premium.

  • Free themes are fine for basic sites, though always be careful; these themes are free for a reason and might have limited features or be difficult to adapt to your brand. Having said that, there are some excellent free themes out there. Start with the WordPress Directory and you’ll be amazed at the variety available.
  • Premium themes cover all those that require payment of some kind. This is where the good stuff is. It’s highly recommended investing in a premium theme, they are generally more versatile, professional and provide customer support. As already mentioned, I’d recommend Themeforest as a great place to start for changing theme.

For the purposes of this How To Use WordPress tutorial, I’ve picked a free theme called “Responsive”, found on the WordPress Directory here: Responsive.

There are a couple of ways to change theme within wordpress, but this is the one I like to use. It’s simple and you can be sure to know if anything goes wrong along the way.


1) Download the .zip file for the theme

This is the first of two steps: 1) Download the theme 2) then upload it into your WordPress.

  • Find the theme you’d like to download.
  • Download the .zip file – this has to a be a .zip file to be uploaded correctly into wordpress.
  • Remember: Put the .zip file somewhere you can find easily.




2) Check the .zip contents

Some themes come in a folder with extra files (pdf, txt etc) – this can be a problem as you have to go in and find the correct .zip file to upload. Uploading the folder won’t work.

  • Open the .zip file on the desktop, to check that it’s all there and you have the right file. It should look like the folder below.
  • This isn’t a strictly necessary step, but it can skip a lot of the problems caused by bundled .zips and folders.




3) Changing Theme with wordpress upload

  • Now sit back and watch a new wordpress trick switch the URL right there and then. How to use wordpress has never been easier!









4) Live Preview and Activate

Be sure about changing your theme – it isn’t very likely you can just plug in the new theme and it looks amazing. There will be a lot more work to put in from the point that you change over. That being said, go boldly forth and change.

  • Click Activate and you’re ready to roll. “Live Preview” doesn’t often help out much, so don’t worry too much there.
  • Stay calm and recalibrate your site 🙂



Possible Problems:

If your theme change grinds to a halt, it can be for a range of reasons. Here are some of the most common:

  • You didn’t upload the right .zip file. This is the most common one.
  • The upload was interrupted and it will say …failed. Try again, to be sure, then think about checking that .zip file.


If you’re looking for more posts like this, then try some of our other blog posts in the series: How To Use WordPress.