Tutorial Overview

Topics covered in this tutorial (click link to jump to topic):

1. Introduction
2. Where Can I Get WordPress Themes?
3. How you I install them?
5. Can they be Customized?
6. What this Theme Editor Thingy?

What follows pertains to WordPress as installed on it’s own domain with it own theme and database, not as hosted at


One way to think of a WordPress theme is as a skin. It is the design wrapped around the database content. The actual physical files of a theme are a collection of HTML files with PHP* and CSS* included.

The idea of the WordPress theme is to separate design aspects of the site from the data side of the site and to easily swap from theme to theme with a couple of mouse clicks.

This means …

  • the design cost of a web site is cut drastically
  • upgrading in the future is equally inexpensive.

*PHP is a glue-type technology made for connecting to database content.  It is open source, unlike Microsoft’s ASP.
* CCS stands for cascading style sheet – a little file that contains layout and formatting instructions.

Where Can I Get WordPress Themes?

WordPress themes are available in their thousands throughout the web. I have three favourite sources:

  3. (not free, but come with source files for the graphics, which can be useful)

Themes can be uploaded to your site by ftp (not recommended for the average user) or installed from inside WordPress itself. Dynamic Web Solutions uses a super theme for the sites we make called “Atahaupla”. Swapping away from our custom Atahaupla design may break the Atahaupla design if you swap back.

How you I install them?

Don’t do this if Dynamic Web Solutions made a custom theme (design) for you.

There are two ways to install a theme…

  1. upload the unzipped theme to your /public_html/wp-content/themes/ folder using your favourite FTP client. It will appear miraculously next time you login to the WordPress and navigate to Appearance > Themes. More about theme installation.
  2. Go to “Appearance”, then to “Add new themes”, search for a prefered design. You can “preview” a design or just “install it”

Can Premade Themes be Customized?

The short answer is “yes”, but probably not by you as HTML, PHP and CSS skills are required. However WordPress itself has load of customisation ability built in e.g. widgets for the sidebar(s) area. The Settings menu also has loads of features to change the way the site works.

The degree of customisation is determined by the theme. Sometimes only backgrounds and banners can be changed. Other themes come with their own configuration control panel that allows you to change almost everything. See Atahuapla for example.

What this Theme Editor Thingy?

Stay clear unless you under stand what all that code is in the editor box. Even advanced users have to be very careful what they do here. The theme editor allows you to get your hands on the source files for the current theme and make changes. E.g. comment out unwanted code or make additions to the style sheet.

Other Resources

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