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Understanding what a theme is and how it works

From: Start with a Theme: Video Blogs in WordPress

Video: Understanding what a theme is and how it works

Now that we have a populated and functioning site, it's time to start working on the appearance of the site. In WordPress the visual presence of the site is controlled by themes. Themes are clusters of template files, style files, script files, and image files that together create what you see when you visit a WordPress-powered site. The cool thing about how WordPress works is that you can swap themes around without having to worry about your content, that means you can change the appearance of your site as often as you like and just keep publishing content as you go.

Understanding what a theme is and how it works

Now that we have a populated and functioning site, it's time to start working on the appearance of the site. In WordPress the visual presence of the site is controlled by themes. Themes are clusters of template files, style files, script files, and image files that together create what you see when you visit a WordPress-powered site. The cool thing about how WordPress works is that you can swap themes around without having to worry about your content, that means you can change the appearance of your site as often as you like and just keep publishing content as you go.

In this course, we'll look closely at three themes that work well with video blogs. They're very different and they provide entirely different experiences for the visitors. Before we get that far, let's take a look at how themes work and how to manage them. If you haven't worked with WordPress before, and you haven't watched the WordPress Essential Training course, I'll give you a crash course in how to install themes. If you go to WordPress, and you're logged in, you can go to the back end by going to the WordPress toolbar and selecting the name of the site and just clicking on it.

This brings you to the back end of the site. From here, you can go to Appearance and Themes and see what themes are installed. Depending on when you installed WordPress, you'll have two or three default themes. Usually you'll have two, Twenty Twelve and Twenty Eleven, and you may also have another one called Twenty Ten if you installed WordPress a little while ago. You can switch between these themes simply by clicking on them. Right now, the current them is Twenty Twelve.

If I click on Twenty Eleven--I'll just click on the big screenshot here--I'm taken to what's called the Theme Customizer. From here, I get a preview of what my site looks like with this new theme. So you can see here's the active content in the new theme, and I can also make changes to my site. I can use the Theme Customizer to change the title of my site, I can change the Colors, and I can change other Components. In some cases, you have Layout options.

In other cases, you can change the Color of the Font, and so on. If I like what I see, I can click Save & Activate, and now my site has changed from using Twenty Twelve as a theme to using Twenty Eleven. Now I can go look at my site by clicking on the site name, and if I don't like what I see, I can simply go back to the Admin panel, go to Appearance again and Themes, scroll down and just click Activate under the Twenty Twelve theme.

Now when I go to the front page, you'll see we have the original design again. I can also add new themes. I'll go to Appearance and Themes and click Install Themes and from here, I can search the extensive database of available themes from wordpress.org. You can see those themes if you go to wordpress.org and click on Themes. Here you have over 1,600 themes to choose from and all these themes are also available from right inside WordPress.

You can also either search for themes or go checkout the Featured themes, currently most popular or look at the Newest themes or Recently Updated themes. If you find the theme you like, let's say I want to use this Responsive theme here, you can either Preview it, this gives you a theme preview, so it's not using your site, it's using a standard site, or you can click Install Now, and WordPress will download the package from the Internet and then unpack it and install it, and now you can run your live preview again to see what it looks like.

As you can see, the Responsive theme out of the box is not really what I'm looking for, so I'll click Cancel. And now that I've downloaded the theme, I can go back to Themes, find my theme, and click Delete to remove it again. So, as you can see, managing themes from inside WordPress is really a very simple process. You simply go find the theme you like, you install it, you test it on your site, if you don't like it just uninstall it again, and if you do like it, customize it and publish it.

Themes are as different as the people who build them. There are great themes, mediocre themes, and horrible themes, and you'll likely come across all of them when you start experimenting. Now you know how to manage themes for your site and how they work, that means you're ready to start customizing your video blog.

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