Changing the Default WordPress Theme to a Custom Theme

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One of the first things you will probably want to do once your WordPress installation using Fantastico is complete, is install a custom WordPress theme.  Now, I am not saying there is anything wrong with the default WordPress theme (except that it is ugly), but many of you will probably want to choose a different theme for your blog.  This is a very easy process and can be done for free.  The following post assumes you know how to use some type of FTP software for transferring files from your computer to your web server and that you are familiar with the process of unzipping files using a tool such as WinZip.

Step 1) Go to the following site: http://www.elegantwpthemes.com – This site, Elegant WordPress Themes has free themes that you can download.  If you are looking for more original WordPress themes or you need a specific type of theme not available from the free site mentioned above, check out Revolution WordPress themes for advanced developers.  Take a few minutes and find a theme that is appealing to you and that you think your blog’s visitors would like.  As you browse the free WordPress themes, you will notice that beneath each theme is a small grayish blue ‘Download’ link.

Step 2) Once you have found the theme you wish to use, simply click on the ‘Download’ link.  A dialogue box will pop up and ask you what you want to do.  Select ‘Save’ and save this theme in a folder on your computer that you will be able to easily find later.

Step 3) Extract the files.  Each custom WordPress theme comes in a zipped folder and the zipped files need to be extracted before you can proceed.  Most users probably have some type of unzipping software already on their computers, such as WinZip.  If so, all you need to do is to navigate to the folder you saved the Custom WordPress theme in and double-click the zipped folder (the folder with the zipper on it).  Your zip utility will open a window and all you need to do next is click ‘Extract All Files’. This will extract all of the files from the zipped folder.

Step 4) Transfer the theme files to your webserver.  For this step you will need some type of FTP software, such as Smart FTP, WS FTP etc. This post assumes that you have and know how to use some type of FTP software to transfer files electronically.  Open your FTP connection using one of the aforementioned FTP tools and navigate to the folder: /public_html/wp-content/themes.  You will see the default theme folder here, as well as the classic folder, which is the one extra theme WordPress comes with.  This is where you need to put the folder containing your custom theme that you extracted. The easiest way to do this is to open your Windows Explorer on your computer and navigate to this folder where you donwloaded and unzipped the custom theme on your computer.  Have this folder open so that you see the root folder containing your theme.  In the case of this blog’s theme, the theme folder was called ‘soloss1’.  Then simply drag the folder from your computer’s Window’s Explorer window to your FTP window.  This folder along with all of the subfolders and files will be transferred to the folder: /public_html/wp-content/themes.  You will now see the new folder along with the default folder and the classic folder here.

Step 5) Activate your new theme.  Login to your WordPress admin panel and click the ‘Presentation’ link along the top.  You will now see the new custom theme that you uploaded to the ‘themes’ folder.  To the right of this theme’s name, you will see a link to ‘Activate’ this theme.  Click the ‘Activate’ link and your new theme will become the active theme on your WordPress blog website!

Well, I hope that wasn’t too painful!  You’re new WordPress blog should be coming along nicely now that you have installed WordPress and updated the default WordPress theme to a custom WordPress theme.  Next we’ll talk about some more essential customization tasks that you will want to do to prepare your WordPress blog to start getting search engine traffic.  Thanks for reading!

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