If you are new to self-hosted WordPress from a managed blogging provider like WordPress.com, Blogger, or Tumblr, you may be in for a wake-up call on how web servers and programs work. Once you have your WordPress installation up and running, you need to learn more about keeping adding themes, plugins, and widgets to your site.
Adding a new theme should be a very simple process with most WordPress installations. The process to add themes can vary depending on the theme you want to add and your server permission settings.
For most free themes, you can simply navigate to the Appearance > Themes page in the WordPress dashboard. Click on the “add new” button to search through the free themes in the WordPress.org theme directory. To install and activate a theme, just click on the “install” button when you mouse over theme you like and activate on the themes page.
For premium themes, you should receive a .zip file containing your theme files. The .zip folder will contain a combination of .php, .css, and image files for your new theme. To upload through the WordPress dashboard, simply click the upload link on the add themes page and follow the prompts to upload your .zip file.
If you are having trouble installing your theme, you can also upload it through your host’s CPanel or FTP. To install using this method, unzip your theme file, navigate to the yoursite/WP-Content/Themes folder on your folder and add the entire directory of your unzipped theme files. Once you do that, go to the themes page in your dashboard and the new theme should be visible.
Plugins are like little apps for your WordPress site. For security and performance reasons, I am a big advocate of using as few plugins as possible, but there are some great plugins and functions you will likely want to add to your site.
Adding a plugin is very similar to adding a theme. To search for and add new plugins from the WordPress.org directory, you can navigate to the Plugins > Add New page through your WordPress dashboard. Just search and click install on the plugin you want to add.
For premium plugins or plugins that you have downloaded from another source, you can upload the zip file through the link in the new plugins page or you can follow the steps above to unzip the file and add via FTP. For plugins, add the plugin folder to the WP-Content/Plugins folder.
In platforms like Blogger, widgets are little modules that you can add to your site in a few clicks. In WordPress, widgets are small bits of functionality that you can drop into different “widgetized” sections of your site. There are some great widgets built in, a handful more that come with the WordPress developed Jetpack plugin, and an unlimited number that can be added through plugins, custom HTML code, or developing your own.
To add a widget to your site, head to the Appearance > Widgets page in your dashboard. From there, you just drag and drop the widgets to the place you’d like on your site. It is that simple!
Tools of the Trade
To unzip .zip files for upload to WordPress via FTP, you can use tools built into your operating system or a full featured compression tool like the open-source application 7-Zip.
To upload files via FTP, you can use a number of different FTP programs, web based or desktop based. My favorite is open-source application FileZilla, which is very popular with WordPress and web developers.
Both 7-Zip and FileZilla are free for anyone to use.
Dazed and Confused?
Do you just want to focus on the parts of running your website you love and offload the rest? Just send me a note through the contact form explaining your problems and I will work with you to find the best solution. That is what Narrow Bridge Media is all about.