Changing Your Theme

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Explanation

One of the first things you will want to do on your WordPress site is explore and change your theme.   The theme dictates how your page will look, where the images go, what color your text is, the size of your fonts, the type of fonts etc.

Some themes have “theme options” which let you change how it looks in a few or bunch of different ways.   Themes are easy to install, use,  and easily allow switching from one look to another without losing all your content.

Themes run the gamut from basic to complex.  Depending on how deeply you want to get into it, you can have a theme that has a ton of different options and settings.    The standard themes that come with WordPress are usually fairly simple.  However, at some point, you might want to check out premium WordPress themes from companies like Woo Themes and Themeforest.  Even if you would rather not hassle with premium themes right now, they are fun to look at for their wonderful design ideas.

One piece of advice:  There is always a better theme out there.  In other words, you can suck up a lot of time changing themes.  If you enjoy this, awesome, but if it drives you crazy, you might want to stick with one of the basic themes such as Twenty Twelve.

Oh and don’t be afraid to head to the WordPress theme section of WordPress.org to see all the wonderful free themes out there.

Frustration Alert

Sometimes when you change your themes, your website won’t behave in the way you want it to.  It might change how menus look, fonts, etc.  You might find yourself a bit frustrated.  NOT TO WORRY!   You can just change your theme back to your original one and it will look the same.   Also, some themes are harder to work with than others.  This is a good thing in that they increase the options you have.  However, if a theme is too hard to work with right now, just find another theme!

AssignmentAssignment

  • Watch the video in the resource section below
  • If you have not done so already, login to your WordPress account
  • Head over the theme tab on the left (see the video below for help)
  • Test out a few themes.  Test them on your site.  Have fun!  Go crazy.  Take some risks.
  • Try making a change on the header of your theme.  This can be a little tough, so think of it as a long term project!
  • In the comments section below, leave a brief response to this question:” Themes control the look of your website.  How important are they?  Should we spend a lot of time finding and customizing them?”  You may need to register first before you can leave a comment.
    1. If you have done so already, consider getting your own Gravatar. This will enable a picture of some sort to be next to any comment you make on this website and many, many others around the web. Interested? Try it out here.
  • Write an awesome reflection.  You may want to include:
    1. A list of some of your favorite themes from the WordPress bank of themes
    2. Your challenges or “easies” that you encountered while trying themes
    3. What you like to see in a theme.  What appeals to your eye
    4. Something funny that will make us laugh.  A joke maybe?  Ok, you can skip this if you want.

ResourcesResources

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heritageIf you registered for this course via the THI website, please submit your assignments via the THI portal here.  Questions?  Email Michael right away.

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51 Comments

  1. Themes absolutely influence the look & feel of your website as well as the usability to some degree. Everyone has been to a website that just says ‘uck’ – it’s either ugly, or too busy, or confusing. Personal tastes aside, I think time spent on finding a nice theme and then customizing with some personal touches is very important. My goal is a clean, organized and highly functional site that doesn’t over stimulate the senses.

    • Clean is good. Very popular nowadays. Sometimes it is hard to point out why you don’t like a site, but you know when you don’t and you tend to have less confidence overall. Must be a first impression thing.

  2. I think themes are a critical to your website. Like we discussed with the importance of photos, aesthetics play a large role in a) visually communicating what your website is about, and b) creating initial interest in your site. Themes are a great marketing tool. As a person who is drawn to “pretty things,” I believe that your theme can cause a reader/student to gain interest in your blog or maintain interest because of the aesthetics. It is why you dress up for an interview, you send a message with your appearance, and this same idea, I believe, applies to your theme. You communicate the mood and topics of your site.

    • Communicating your mood. Yes, that is a great point. Nice way to express what you mean. It is hard to quantify that, but it is super important. For sure a first impression is made when people come to a website. That impression may encourage the person to trust you and if that happens, then you can sell them on your ideas and ask them to interact with you in some way.

      Go Themes!

  3. I find it very important to find a theme that fits the tone you want to set, as well as, your own particular style. The wrong theme can convey the wrong message. I look for themes that I would want to look through if I was visiting that site. Ease of access to the information without too much clutter is crucial for my needs. I suppose I could buy a fancy theme that will look sharp but the free ones will suffice for now. I spent a good amount of time picking out a theme, switching back and forth, and finally I went for the original theme I chose day one. But as was said, “There will always be a better theme out there”, so it may change.

    • Good for you for trying out a few different themes before you went back to your original. For sure you will start to get a feel for what you really like and that will help you pick themes that do what you want.

      I have to say, though, that over the years I still find lots of new things in various themes and am starting to be a bit of a premium theme connoisseur. They add some great functionality, but there is often a tricky learning curve to climb first.

      • Depending on which theme you choose can totally change the layout and navigation of your site. Site layout is connected to navigation which helps your users finds things within your site. If a user can’t easily navigate in your site, they will leave. Choosing a theme that appeals to your audience (which may be young, old, gamers, non-gamers, buyers, non-buyers) is critical. With a theme also comes, color scheme, font, etc. Many of these items can and should be modified but finding a basic theme requiring the least amount of modification would be ideal.

  4. I felt that most of the themes looked good and were suitable for my purposes. I think that it is easy to find yourself wasting too much time browsing themes with out making any substantial difference in your website. The themes that appealed to me the most were the one that had the most menu options for customization. One caveat that I am exploring is consideration of how different themes perform across a variety of devices. Since I expect that my student will be visiting my site on desktops, laptops, tablets, and phone I will be important to find a theme that accommodates all of these devices.

  5. I experimented with several themes before settling on one that I liked. I found it fun to see how quickly I could change the look and feel of the web site. I think that it would be worth paying for some more themes but for now I am happy with this simple one.

  6. Themes are very important to the look of my website. Like I said before, my site will be about drawing students and parents into my class and making them interested in in. People are drawn to things that are visually appealing. The theme is how I will make a first impression. I know that I visit hundreds of websites, and if they are crowded, confusing, or boring at a glance, I leave them. I don’t want students to leave my site thinking it is lame.

  7. ”Themes control the look of your website. How important are they? Should we spend a lot of time finding and customizing them?”

    Themes are so important, because as much as some of us may deny it, we do “judge books by their covers.” When a person visits my site, I want them to stay. I cannot count the amount of times I’ve promptly closed a site because it was a visual mess – no organization, cluttered… I wouldn’t know where to begin! Themes are not the solve-all, but I do think it is important to find the ones that will serve your purpose and be easy on the eyes. Just as Adeline mentioned below, it’s also a “first impression” that your site makes on a visitor. If I do not put any effort into the aesthetics of my site, one might assume that I also put no effort into my content.

    • You get it! One of the things I love about WordPress is that its templates force me to be consistent in how I do things. While I love Weebly and its ease of use, WordPress seems to let us go to the next level.

      It took me a long time to get a feel for what themes I liked and when I should use a premium theme that is worth paying for. Still, so much to learn though.

  8. “Themes control the look of your website. How important are they? Should we spend a lot of time finding and customizing them?”

    I think themes are extremely important because they are the first impression an individual has regarding who you are. In the age of social media, our online presence often shapes a person’s judgement about others. Consequently, it’s very important to choose the correct theme in relationship to the content and impression one is desiring to give. I personally like more simple, clean websites which are extremely clear and easy to navigate. Therefore, my professional website is very organized with drop down menus and the content is extremely organized. On the other hand, my personal website which is used more for blogging has a bit more creativity in it and I experiment with new templates as I come across ones that I like. As a result, my personal website changes its look a few times each year. Currently, I’m trying out flipcards that relate to my blog posts. These are extremely informal and I have really enjoyed them; however, this isn’t a template I would use professionally.

  9. I’d say themes and headers are pretty important. Obviously, if you’re hoping to attract a large audience, or the minimum impress those who happen upon your site, what they see initially will go a long way. The way that a site introduces itself to the viewer and the impact that it has on them is critical. I think it’s important to not only have a good one, but to spend time occasionally updating and refreshing the look. This will keep the viewer entertained and impressed in the website.

  10. “Themes control the look of your website. How important are they? Should we spend a lot of time finding and customizing them?”

    Before making my own webpage, when I would surf the Internet, I realized that there were pages that were more attractive and that caught my attention. I never knew that webpage “themes” played such a large role in that attractiveness. When thinking about webpage design, “themes” are extremely important. No matter what your purpose on the Internet, if your page is unappealing or with a font that is difficult to read, people are going to be turned off. I believe it is important to spend some time thinking and browsing for the theme of your webpage; however, content and functionality (i.e. links that work) are also very important. Your site can look beautiful, but if it doesn’t have the information that I want or if the links are broken I get frustrated and move on! Since I plan to use this webpage with my students, I believe that it is important that it looks nice and that they are attracted to interact with the page, but I don’t plan to spend hours designing my header or changing the font and color.

    • I think that students have grown up with the web, so they likely are more picky than they realize with how a website looks. So… you are very wise to invest time in the look of your site. I know I have learned SOO much over the years about website design and what looks good and what does not. On the downside I have also learned that I don’t have super duper design skills. But at least I know a few that do! 😉

  11. ” Themes control the look of your website. How important are they? Should we spend a lot of time finding and customizing them?”

    Oh goodness! I could spend hours and hours looking through my options. I absolutely believe that the visual of a site is what pulls me in to begin with. As I said, I could spend hours and hours on that task, but I am usually drawn to the artsy looking styles like: Sketch, Esquire, and Matala which I chose today. I think I would use Chalkboard for my school site, but we will see. I think customizing is important but I am not so sure I would pick one I had to pay for right now. Especially since all of the premium themes I liked were pretty spendy!

  12. Themes not only look good, but they help people know that they are visiting the right website. My website will be for my school’s music program. I intend to include our school’s mascot and colors to insure that students and parents know that they have arrived at the correct location (there are a few school’s that share our name). We all have varying amounts of time to commit to creating themes, but it’s important to not let them suck you in!

  13. Themes are important because the style and design projects your identity (institutional or personal and everything in-between), and impacts the functionality and user’s navigation of your site. I was impressed by the amount and quality of the free themes I tested. I think when I settle for a specific theme I will stick with it for a while and use my time to generate quality content.

  14. Choosing the right theme is important. When people visit your site you want it to be easy on the eyes so their initial reactions are positive. If the site is unorganised, crowded and looks hard to navigate at first glance, they will leave straight away. I know I always do! There’s nothing worse than overly busy, crowded sites that make you think ‘Where do I start?’ First impressions are important in the real world and the cyber world is no different.

    As a beginner I think the themes are great. They give me a starting point, but also provide the flexibility for me to be creative. As for continually changing and customising themes. Well, I’ve just started and have changed mine four times already. I think its a case of finding the right theme for the content and then adjusting it to your or the sites needs. People inherently like to tinker and as new updates and plug-ins are released its inevitable that site that want to stay relevant will change and evolve.

  15. ” Themes control the look of your website. How important are they? Should we spend a lot of time finding and customizing them?” After playing with the themes, I would agree that they are important–they control the way that your viewers interact with the site. I’m not sure that we need to spend a lot of time finding and customizing them, but some attention and time is needed for sure. It took me a bit to figure out the cropping of my header image, but I’m glad that I did so that it can convey its own message. Also, I tried several themes until I found one that would provide viewers with access to all the information they could find on the site–and be able to access it all from the front page. That was important for what I am trying to do.

  16. “Themes control the look of your website. How important are they? Should we spend a lot of time finding and customizing them?”

    I believe that themes are very important. When you enter a website, the theme makes you feel a certain way and gives you a general idea about the content of the site. Making sure that things are easily accessible and visually appealing are the keys to creating a great website that people feel connected to. The more connected I feel to a website, the more I will want to visit that site. Spending a lot of time might be excessive, but spending some time is definitely worth it.

  17. I feel that the theme of a website is very important because the first impression of something often sets you up for how you feel about it later. A good theme can pull you in to explore more. Humans are visual so the colors and images effect us subconsciously. It is easy to make a cluttered and over-whelming look to a site if not careful. Finding the right fit between the theme and your audience is important but like all techy things it can be a real time-sucker.

  18. Themes control the look of your website. How important are they? Should we spend a lot of time finding and customizing them?”

    I think the theme of your site is very important, it is what draws people in and keeps them interested once they are there. First impressions are always important and that is what the theme helps facilitate. It’s also important that the theme reflects what you are trying to convey. I’m very new to the whole website building arena so finding a theme I was comfortable with was important and I was able to do so quickly. It works for me right now, but as I become more proficient I will search for other themes that might highlight my content in a better way.

  19. ” Themes control the look of your website. How important are they? Should we spend a lot of time finding and customizing them?”

    I think that it is mildly important to choose a theme for a website that is visually appealing. If a site is appealing to look at I feel that it gives it an overall impression of being high quality. Above the importance of being nice to look at I think that some time should be devoted to pick a theme that allows users to navigate a website in the most efficient way possible. It seemed that some of the themes were geared more towards artists and definitely had a gallery feel to them while others reflected a more casual journal feel. I think that it is important to pick a theme that represents what you are presenting to your audience in a way that makes sense. Some time should be spent in exploring and finding a suitable theme but I can’t imagine stressing over it too much, because there are lots of appropriate choices to pick.

    • ” Themes control the look of your website. How important are they? Should we spend a lot of time finding and customizing them?”

      I think that themes are important to a website. The look of a website and how pleasing it is to the eye is essentially the first impression a user gets. What comes after is generally more important, but good first impressions are engaging. As well, the them should be user friendly and efficient. More important than than the look, is how well and efficient the website can be used. I think that we should spend time finding and customizing them, however I don´t believe that you should get too wrapped up in it. Get something going that you like, and then as you continue to build you can tweak and adjust it as you get more comfortable and familiar.

  20. Themes are very important. Long before anyone gets into your website and determines how useful it is—as far as functionality and ease of use—users will judge on sight. If it looks difficult or appears visually unappetizing, they may leave before giving it a day in court. It is, therefore, very important—or, is it? Perhaps it’s just me, and I’m letting my own anecdotal judgements get in the way. I can see spending too much time trying to find the right theme to appeal to my students. Given the galaxy of theme types out there, one could easily fall into a pitfall of theme choices. Luckily, it appears that WordPress makes it easy to switch from theme to theme.

  21. – “Themes control the look of your website. How important are they? Should we spend a lot of time finding and customizing them?”

    As a visual arts teacher I think that the appearance is actually quite important – not only does the theme control the look but it controls usability and functionality – The way the site is set up and looks makes a big difference in how the user interacts with it. The appearance can also draw in a user and get their attention – or it can bore them and drive them to distraction – Particularly when targeting students and parents it needs to look professional and clean.

  22. ”Themes control the look of your website. How important are they? Should we spend a lot of time finding and customizing them?”

    The theme dictates the overall tone of a website. It determines the accessibility of the content as well as initially catching the audience’s eye. I don’t think there is a set amount of time to dictate for finding/customizing a theme, as each person has a different creative process.

  23. ”Themes control the look of your website. How important are they? Should we spend a lot of time finding and customizing them?”

    I think a theme can make or break a site. And the choice of theme needs to reflect what the site is all about. For example, because my site is for my visual arts classes, I want the theme to support the content not take it over. I had a great time trying out themes and chose one for now. however, i anticipate that I will explore many more and make a change in the future. For now, I really like the clean and sleek look of my site as well as the ease of navigability that it allows.

  24. “Themes control the look of your website. How important are they? Should we spend a lot of time finding and customizing them?” … Why do we spend time looking in a mirror? Is it important what kind of impression we make on others? Sees like the vain thing to do. What we want others to think about us is important to most people and so it is with our online presence … and the website/blog is a lasting first impression we can leave with people. Yes, spend time allowing the blog show and tell the world who you are.

  25. Themes control the look of your website.  How important are they?  Should we spend a lot of time finding and customizing them?

    Themes communicates something about the owner/creator, their personal style preference and personality. When a viewer opens the site, there is an immediate sense of who the creator is. Do they know what they are doing? Is the reader drawn into the site or repelled by it? The first look needs to pull the reader in. So yes, the theme selection is important. It’s personal. After previewing a number of them, I find that I’m really happy with the “look” of my site. I like a standard theme without too many bells and whistles. Do I need to spend a LOT of time? Not really, but enough to be satisfied and do some experimentation to insure the selection.

  26. ” Themes control the look of your website. How important are they? Should we spend a lot of time finding and customizing them?”

    Themes are definitely important. It can serve its audience well, or it can be detrimental. I’m an extremely visual learner. Some websites have themes that make the organization of the site seem confusing. The organization of some is not visually comforting. This can honestly be irritating to me at times. On the other hand, there are websites with themes that seem perfect. The are well organized, and therefore easy to follow. That can be more comforting, and in turn extend the amount of time that I spend on the site. In general, I think that the simpler the layout, the better.

    I personally don’t want to spend a lot of time customizing the theme. I think people should spend as much, or little, time customizing their themes as they want. It should be personal preference. I’m more likely to pick one after looking at no more than six of them. Then I might customize a couple of things. Over time, I will probably tinker with it in order to fine tune some of my preferences.

  27. “Themes control the look of your website. How important are they? Should we spend a lot of time finding and customizing them?”

    Themes are crucial to your website. I have a feeling as I work on my site I will want to change the theme. For now I am satisfied, but i am impressed by other themes out there. I also need to find one that is easy and straightforward for my students to use. I am not after a wide audience on the web, rather I am after functionality for my students. I also need a theme that is straightforward to use. Personally I don’t want to spend a lot of time customizing my theme, but I could see how others might really enjoy that process.

  28. “Themes control the look of your website. How important are they? Should we spend a lot of time finding and customizing them?” … I do think that a sites theme is important and will motivate students to stick around on that site, however the main purpose of developing a site for me is as an information delivery system so I can cut back on emails, texts and paper mail. I’m looking for a very clean and organized site that conveys info clearly. If I have time I may look into customizing and trying new themes, but for now it’s all about getting information out to the kids.

  29. I think the proper theme can really determine the functionality of the site. If it is too busy and cluttered relative to the subject it could keep people from getting engaged. If it is too dull and uninviting then someone surfing by might not get engaged.
    For teacher-oriented site the theme should be reflective of the personality of the teacher and clearly indicate to students and parents how they should engage with the information

  30. Themes are very important! We SHOULD spend a lot of time finding and customizing them. I believe that the visual appeal is what pulls an audience in. In today’s society people are used to seeing pictures and being captured by some sort of media. I think that this is an area that the time is worth it. Especially if we are working with students, it is a way to let the student’s creative juices flow. They know how they like things to look, and they can speak to their peers in ways that we can’t.

  31. Themes are important for the overall look of your site. You want it to be appealing. I am not as familiar with the different features the themes offer and what I need for my website. I’m sure I will have a stronger opinion as I learn more.

  32. A theme should reflect the topic and ‘personality’ of a website. It is one more layer of creating a brand for yourself and your site. A certain amount of time needs to be invested in finding and customizing your site theme, but I feel that needs to be balanced with spending even more time on great site content.

  33. Themes are incredibly important for your website. Your page needs to represent who you are and should reflect what you want your students to see. You should definitely spend the time to find a theme that represents you and one that you find easy to manipulate because it is where you will be putting a lot of hard hours worth of work in.

  34. I believe themes are very important. The first thing you notice when you go to a website is the visual appeal. Before you ever read a single word the colors, shapes, and images have already either caught your attention or made you feel bored. Without the proper theme I believe a website with great content could be completely overlooked. It is because of this that I think that it is very important to spend a lot of time finding and customizing your theme. A unique looking website that is not full of clutter or clashing colors pulls people in with a great first impression, but the content keeps them there.

  35. I think themes are as important as the reader you are trying to attract. If you change them too frequently you may frustrate your readers who visit your site regularly. On the other hand if you don’t change your theme occasionally you may lose readers to bigger better things.

  36. “Themes control the look of your website. How important are they? Should we spend a lot of time finding and customizing them?”

    I think themes are very important to you r website. As we talked about earlier, images are what lure visitors to your website. How those images are arranged and displayed is the basis for themes. It’s important that those images attract the readers attention when they visit your site so that they are more likely to explore and us it. Students expect a professionally done website, and as a teacher vying for their attention, I need to understand that.

  37. Themes control the look of your website. How important are they? Should we spend a lot of time finding and customizing them? – I think so because that become the starting point for your site – like any good speech or piece of communication – you have to start with a “hook” or “attention-getter” and that is your header. I’m still playing around different header images since I can’t get to get the pixels right. Lots of headers I’ve tried are too blurry once they appear on the page.

  38. Themes control the look of your website. How important are they? Should we spend a lot of time finding and customizing them?”

    I love color, and fun designs, especially being a kindergarten teacher. I think the theme is really important, and I probably end up spending too much time here, and never feel I can get it just right, probably because I am too cheap to purchase just what I want. I am definitely guilty of spending too much time on this area and customizing in the past!

    When I go to a website it is the first thing I notice, and I have to say, sets the tone for what I think the content will end up being. On the other hand, I do find design and content to be very similar at times among primary websites, and while they are *cute* I crave unique.

    I look forward to putting more touches in the design area, but I am trying to stay focused!

  39. Themes control the look of your website. How important are they? Should we spend a lot of time finding and customizing them?

    The theme is a sites identity. I think all of the most popular websites on the internet understand that the first impression is an important one and so the look of the site is an important decision. I went with the Eighties because I loved how retro and yet modern it looked. I like its clean layout and big bold headings. I am a little worried that I am sacrificing style for function but I also think that’s a personal preference and that my students will be more susceptible to a hipper theme.

  40. “Themes control the look of your website. How important are they? Should we spend a lot of time finding and customizing them?”

    Themes help set the overall tone for your website. You want your theme to capture the attention of your audience and make them want to return to your website. They can be a powerful tool in creating excitement among viewers. While themes are important can assist in controlling the overall look of our websites, we should not spend too much time trying to find the perfect theme. You could spend all day searching for and testing out different themes. Find one that works for you and run with it.

  41. “Themes control the look of your website. How Important are they? Should we spend a lot of time finding and customizing them?”
    Yes! I really like how customizing my site gave it a much more polished look! Catching the eye of the viewer is so important.

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