Themes (sometimes called templates) are what control the look and layout of a site. They cannot change your actual content, but do change the appearance of your content. This means you can change themes without fear of losing your content. Learn where to find themes you can use on your WordPress.com site.
- [Voiceover] At this point, we've talked about the different types of content you can have on your site. How to add, edit, and organize that content and even work with images. This is the part of the show where we get to think about the design of our site. In the WordPress vernacular, themes are what control the look and layout of the site. You may occasionally hear them referred to as templates, but the official word for them is themes. Think of themes as a layer that sits over your content. It can't change your content, it can only change the appearance.
This is really awesome as it's a true separation of design and content. That means that you can change themes at any time without fear of losing your content. That being said, different themes do handle certain elements differently, such as excerpts or widget areas. So it's possible that you need to reconfigure some widgets or make other adjustments to accommodate a new theme. Even still, the fact that your content stays safe and sound, regardless of what theme you use, is awesome. So let's take a look at where we can get these magical themes.
You can get to them via wordpress.com or if you're already logged in, you can just click Themes in the Personalize section of your site's Admin area. Anything you find here, you can use on your site. One quick thing to note. Because you're on wordpress.com, you're restricted to the themes available here. You may see places around the web selling WordPress themes, but those are for self-hosted wordpress.org users. Don't worry though, there's a ton of great variety here. In fact, at the time of this recording, there's nearly 400 themes to choose from.
There are a lot of ways to explore these available themes. You'll notice there are both free and premium, or paid themes, available. Typically, premium themes have a few more bells and whistles than the free themes. If you want to use a premium theme, you'll need to upgrade your site's plan to wordpress.com Premium or wordpress.com Business. You'll additionally need to pay for the theme. When you're searching, you can specifically browse for free or premium themes. If we click this More button, we get some additional filter options.
You can browse by genre and see what's popular. My favorite way to search is by using this other More filter. I think it can be overwhelming to look for themes and filtering the results really helps me make a more manageable process of it. Of all these items you can filter by, when you go looking for themes, there's only one thing I'd ask you to check. And that's this Responsive box. Responsive means that the theme's layout will respond to various screen sizes. In other words, responsive themes look good whether you're viewing them on a desktop or on a mobile phone.
The greatest kindness you can do for your readers is to make visiting your site a great experience, regardless of the device they're on. Other than that, you can search by type of theme, particular theme features, and colors. And as I mentioned, you can filter by price as well. If you already know the name of theme you want, you can search for it by name. As you're browsing through themes, I'd encourage you to look for themes with simple, straightforward layouts and navigation. That doesn't mean it's boring or ugly by any stretch.
I just mean, beware of overly complex designs or a jillion configuration options. Going that route will leave you frustrated trying to configure it, and your readers potentially unable to navigate through your content easily. If you're curious about a theme, you can click on it to get additional information. It'll give you the exact specs, so to speak, about the available layout options, any custom widget areas, and featured images. It might include some other details as well. You can also demo any theme on wordpress.com by just clicking the Demo button.
Alternatively, if you're searching from themes within your site, you can see the demo by clicking the Preview button. You can take it a step further and actually see how the theme looks on your site by clicking the Try and Customize button. This is really neat because you can try different themes on to see how would look with your content, but your site visitors won't see this. They can only see whatever your currently activated theme is. Let me show you. I'm gonna navigate to my home page in a new tab. Here you can see that I'm still showing the 2015 theme that I've been using throughout this course.
But, I can go back to my other tab and see that I'm operating with a 2016 theme. Now granted, the 2016 theme design isn't all that different from 2015. But we're definitely looking at 2016 on the back end, but our site visitors can only see our current theme. I actually really like the 2016 theme that I'm previewing now. I can see immediately how it's using my post excerpt here before the post starts. I also like how it displays my featured image. Once you find a theme you like, you can add it to your site simply by clicking the Save and Activate button.
I'm going to go do that, and then let's go refresh my home page in this other browser tab. And with that, I can see my new theme.
- Creating a WordPress.com account
- Updating your profile
- Importing content
- Publishing posts
- Applying categories and tags to posts
- Inserting images, videos, and other media
- Creating a new page
- Customizing your site with themes and widgets
- Managing users, notifications, and comments
- Using WordPress.com apps
- The limits of WordPress.com and the benefits of self-hosting