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Understanding Themes: Changing the Way Your WordPress Site Looks

When it comes to WordPress, customizing the look of your site is simple and straightforward. Domain of One’s Own and UMW Blogs have a few differences.


Within UMW Blogs there are a specific set of themes that you can use. In Domain of One’s Own, you can install/download themes and even create your own. When you install WordPress, the default (or pre-set) theme is called Twenty Fifteen (as of WordPress version 4.2.2). It is a very customizable theme. For example, while the default install doesn’t include a header, you have the option of adding one of your own images. You can also easily modify the colors of the different fonts and backgrounds used in the theme.

The previous default theme, Twenty Fourteen, also provides you with the option of choosing a slider or “grid layout” for your site’s homepage and to use a custom tag to determine which posts show up on your homepage.

You can find out more about customizing the homepage layout here. You can find out more general information about Twenty Fourteen here.

In addition to Twenty Fourteen, you’ll have other themes available to you. (What themes you have depends upon if you did a default WordPress installation, or if you installed a special course package.) If the default theme doesn’t meet your needs, you can activate another theme on your site or install a completely new one.

This tutorial covers how to activate a theme that has already been installed (in either Domain of One’s Own or UMW Blogs).

Activating Themes

  1. You’ll need to login to your site in order to change the theme. You can do that by logging into your Domain of One’s Own account or just through the /login part to your domain. Once logged in start at your site’s Dashboard.14764078696_baa90d9f58_c.jpg
  2. To access your previously installed themes, select Appearance from the menu on the left side of the screen then click Themes.14765360436_3f92e98492_c.jpgYou will see thumbnail images representing each of the themes that you currently have available on your site. Simply mouse over any one of them, and click the Activate button.


That’s all you need to do to change the look of your site with a new theme.

Installing Themes

If none of the themes that were provided when you installed WordPress are what you’re looking for, you can always search for and install other themes from the WordPress Theme Repository.

  1. Follow step 1 from the section above. 14765360436_3f92e98492_c.jpg
  2. Once in the themes section, click the Add New button next to “Themes.” Or you can click the big Add New Theme button at the end of the themes you currently have installed. 14601781048_3cdbb00893_c.jpg
  3. Here, you can search for a particular theme or browse the “Featured” themes. You can also click “Popular” or “Latest” for more examples. “Feature Filter” allows you to narrow your search based on properties of themes.14788122502_ba5a86cfa6_c.jpg
  4. By hovering your mouse over each example, you’ll have two choices – Install and Preview. You can also click on the example to see the Details and Preview. Once you find a theme that fits your needs, click Install Now to add the new theme to your site.
  5. After you install the theme, it is still not active on your site. You will need to click Activate it to use it.


Once activated, your site will be using the new theme. 14601903328_a79f74e053_c.jpg

At the top of the page will be a message “New Theme Activated”. Click on the Visit Site link to view your site with the new look. 14601850830_10b392a988_c.jpg

1 Comment

  1. […] Themes: Here’s a tutorial on how to work with Themes in WordPress. You should try out some different themes until you find one you really […]

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