A theme is a template for your site — it creates the basic layout, which you can then customize to add a personal touch. You can switch themes whenever, and as many times as you like, as it often takes some trial and error before you settle on a theme that’s right for you.
There are over 350 themes to choose from on WordPress.com, from super-sleek and minimal to fun and festive. You can quickly browse themes right in your dashboard: just hover over My Sites in the top-left corner of your screen, and select Themes. If you’re already in your dashboard, simply click on the Themes tab in the left sidebar.
Use the search box to look up a specific feature or theme name, or just toggle between free, premium, or all themes.
Once you’ve found a theme that you’d like to explore, hover over it and click on Preview — this will open the theme’s demo site.
If you’d like the see how the theme looks with your posts and pages, click the blue Try & Customize button in the top right corner of the demo. This will load your posts and pages into the theme, and let you play with customizing tools. You’ll be able to preview your new look and try out different options, from a new tagline to a new widget:
Don’t worry: you’re the only one who sees this! Your blog and theme remain as-is for the public while you’re previewing. If you decide you want to use this new theme, click the Save & Activate button at the top of the customizing tools:
If you don’t want to activate the theme, click the X and you’ll be right back in your dashboard.
If you’d like to run a more thorough search, you should give our Theme Showcase a try. You can find detailed information on all our themes there, including a list of their features and links to sample sites that show each theme’s potential.
The Theme Showcase also allows you to make targeted searches for themes that meet your specific needs, from layout and color palette to features you can’t live without — just click on More and you’ll see all the available search parameters.
If you know what vibe you’d like to give your site but don’t care a great deal about particular features, just scroll down the page until you find something that catches your eye. Clicking on a theme will take you to a page with detailed information about it. Alternatively, hovering over a theme in the Showcase will give you the option to visit a demo page, where you can see it in action. Or, if you’re sold, just click on Activate.
If it’s layout and features you care about the most, you can narrow down your search significantly by choosing the number of columns your site should have, or filtering themes by the availability of features like a post slider, Custom Header, or Featured Images, to name a few.
Pick a theme that says “you”
You might not always have a clear vision for your site or blog when you’re just getting started — and that’s perfectly fine! Here are three guiding principles that’ll help you find the theme that’s the best fit for you.
Your style: You want to make your blog a place that you think is comfortable, visually appealing, and reflective of who you are. Some features and designs might look snazzy in the Showcase, but will end up sticking out to you since they don’t channel your personality.
Bear in mind that picking something that doesn’t speak to you will likely entail lots of tweaks to try and make it feel like “you.” Set yourself up for success by picking a theme you’ll like looking at every day. (Or, if you’re like most of us, a dozen times a day.)
Your content: If you have a rough idea what your subject matter will be you can further narrow down the world of available themes. If you love photography and know you’ll be posting images with most posts, you’ll want to consider photoblogging-friendly themes, where visuals take the front seat.
If you’re more writing-oriented, there are many themes that make your text the star, including most of our minimal themes. There are also themes for specific purposes, like music, travel, or weddings.
What if you’re not sure what your site will be, or you envision yourself posting a bit of this and a bit of that? First, have no fear — that’s true for the vast majority of bloggers, especially when they start out. Second, the theme world is your oyster — there are plenty of themes that are well-suited for housing different types of posts, and we keep releasing new ones every week. Just take a look, and see what kinds of designs draw you in.
Your time and energy: All our themes are designed to be easy to work with, but some can handle more customizing and futzing than others. How much time and energy do you want to put into your theme, as opposed to the content you’d like to create? Be realistic about what you want to do. The last thing we want is for you to feel frustrated by your site — we want you to stick around and publish.
We’re confident that we can help anyone work with any theme, but we also don’t want you to spend your time on theme options if what you want to be doing is posting about your awesome DIY project. When you’re considering a theme, take a few minutes to take a look at its features and customization options, and let that be a factor in your decision.
Change your theme
A few days (or weeks, or months) have gone by. You’ve seen a lot more other sites, and have been feeling more comfortable customizing yours. You may wonder if it might be time for a change. No worries: changing your theme couldn’t be easier.
Take your blog mobile
Many of your readers will not be reading your blog on a computer. They’ll be on phones and tablets of various sizes. Luckily, it’s easy to make sure that your blog looks great no matter the size of the screen.
The vast majority of our themes are responsive, meaning they automatically change their appearance depending on your visitor’s device, while trying to preserve as much of your original design as possible.
In case you need more guidance…
We know that picking your theme is a big decision (even if it’s easily reversible). So here are some additional resources that might help you navigate this exciting world of gorgeous designs:
- We’ve briefly touched upon the major points to consider when browsing themes. Here’s an expanded version of our guide to theme selection.
- Why not heed the advice of fellow bloggers? We talked to a bunch of your peers and probed them on how they’d picked their theme.
- Themes might look great out of the box, but they truly shine once you’ve put your individual stamp on them. Check out — and get inspired by — some of the great customizations we’ve seen in the past.
What’s next? In the following section, we’ll take the theme you chose and add personal touches so readers know without a doubt that they’re on your blog (and not just because you’ve used your head shot as the background image). Move on to Get Configured.