WordPress: Installing Themes & Plugins

WordPress: Installing Themes & PluginsLast post we talked about  how to log in and use the admin area. This post I’ll be showing you a few ways to install themes and plugins.

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What are Themes & Plugins?

Before we go all crazy installing this stuff, let’s talk about what these actually are.

Themes. Themes define the look and layout of your site. They tell your site what colors to use and where to put your information. From a coding perspective, WordPress Themes include at least one CSS file (style.css) and multiple PHP files for the layouts of the page. Themes can have just a few files or tons of files. There’s really no limit.

Plugins. Plugins define the functionality of your site. Let’s say you want a blog that shows “related articles” at the bottom of the page – scroll to the bottom of this post for an example. This is added functionality. It’s coding that makes WordPress do more than it originally does. Keep in mind that WordPress is built so that you can extend it any way you want. The question isn’t “can WordPress do that”, it’s “does WordPress do that automatically, or do we need a plugin?”

Installing Themes & Plugins three ways

Themes or plugins can be installed three different ways on WordPress. Two of those ways are within the WordPress Admin area, and the third uses FTP. The setup is basically the same for both Themes & Plugins.

Search Install

How to Install themes in wordpress

The first way is by navigating to your Admin panel on WordPress and going to Appearance->Themes. Don’t know how to get to your Admin panel? Check out the Admin Panel post.

Click Add New at the top of the page. From this section you can Search, Featured, Newest, or Recently Updated to see themes that have been submitted and accepted by WordPress.

For plugins, go to Plugins->Add New and you’ll see the same setup.

Upload Install

How to upload themes in WordPressThe second option is under the same area: Upload

This option is provided because WordPress Themes and plugins are offered as downloadable zip files all over the internet. Simply download a theme/plugin, and upload the zip file here.

If you’re downloading themes from Theme Forest, make sure you upload the zip file for the theme, not the zip file including .psd (Photoshop) files. Often you’ll need to unzip the first file you download, which contains another zip file for just the Theme files.

FTP Install

The last way to install a theme or plugin is by using FTP. If you don’t know what that is, this isn’t the option for you!

Start with downloading the zip file for the theme you want. Unzip the file and move those unzipped files to your server under the following folder:

  • For Themes: http://yoursite.com/wp-content/themes/
  • For Plugins: http://yoursite.com/wp-content/plugins/

For Themes, if you log into WordPress and navigate to Appearance->Themes, you’ll see your new theme installed. Choose Activate to make the theme active on your site.

For Plugins, go to Plugins, find the name of the plugin, and choose Activate.

Final Thoughts

That’s all there is to it! If you follow the directions and something doesn’t work, there’s two options:

  • you’ve got a bad theme/plugin – dump it.
  • you’re uploading a zip file that includes Photoshop files – unzip the file; if there’s another zip file, try uploading that one.