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WordPress: What Is a Theme?

WordPress: What Is a Theme?

Now that you’ve decided to start a blog and picked out your blogging platform, you’re ready to start thinking about your design. Back in the olden days of the internet, you had to code your own theme in html, page by page, and there were very few design options other than tables and blue, underlined links. Today, though, we’re lucky: much of the basic design work is done for our blogs via themes in WordPress (and Blogger templates). You can choose a theme that you like and use it right out of the box, or you can customize your theme to put your own special mark on it.

The best place to begin exploring themes for WordPress is the Appearance tab on your WordPress Dashboard.

The best place to begin exploring themes for WordPress is the Appearance tab on your WordPress Dashboard.

If you go to the Appearance tab in WordPress, you can browse through a bunch of free, pre-installed themes that come already installed with your copy of WordPress. If you are using WordPress 2.8 (or at least the past few versions of WordPress), you should be able to find it on the left side of the screen about midway through the “above the fold” part of your screen. Click on Appearance, and it will take you to a page where you can browse the themes that are already available to you.

The manage themes screen allows you to choose what theme you want for your blog.

The manage themes screen allows you to choose what theme you want for your blog.

To choose a theme for your blog, just click on one of the themes that you see and try it out. Each theme has different features and some are better suited for blogging purposes than others. However, they will all work, so don’t worry about picking the wrong one. In addition to the themes that are already installed with your version of WordPress, there are several (thousand) places you can go to find new themes. The first place to look is the listing of free themes at WordPress.org, but if you google “wordpress themes,” you will find tons more. Please note that some of the wordpress themes you find will be free, but others will be premium themes, which means you have to pay a little more, presumably for increased functionality.

Tomorrow we will discuss how to install themes that you find on the internet by uploading them to your FTP server. But for now, don’t freak out, just have fun looking at themes and trying to figure out which one will work best for your needs.

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