Pick a Theme
One of the first things new users do when they install WordPress is to change the theme from the default one. For that reason we shall cover installing and choosing your theme in this session. However, sometimes it is better to wait until you have created some basic content so that you get a feel for how the site will look. You may want to skip this session and return later when you have some content to show. But most people can’t resist the temptation to browse all those wonderful themes.
The theme governs how your site will look and is totally independent of your content. So you can change your theme as often as you like and your content stay put – it will just be displayed differently. Initially you will no doubt experiment with different themes.
How to change your theme
We’ll return to the dashboard of the new St Saviours web site that we created on wordpress.com in the last session. To change your theme you need to select Appearance-Theme from the menu on the left of the dashboard.
Your current theme will be show at the top of the page and below will be a selection of available themes. You can search the set of installed themes on wordpress.com to find one you like. To quickly preview any of the themes, just click on the theme. To close the preview window click X or press the escape key.
Once you have found the theme you want to use you must activate it. To make any theme your active theme, you must select the Activate link. This will change you theme to the newly selected theme in an instant.
One of the advantages of hosting WordPress yourself, rather than using wordpress.com is that you can install your own choice of themes and additional plugins. But whether you use wordpress.com or host your self, changing your theme is the same. The only difference is that on a self hosted site you will need to install any themes you want to try first.
How to install a theme on your self-hosted domain
If you choose to host WordPress yourself, then when you first open the dashboard you will see that only one theme, the default twentyten theme is installed. You will need to install additional themes before you get to preview them.
Additional themes can be downloaded from various theme sites and vendors such as the official wordpress theme browser or our own themeloom. Or you can browse the official theme site under the Install Theme section of the dashboard.
When you download a theme from any theme site, they usually come in the form of a zip file. To add these themes to your site you can either use the upload link in the Install Theme section of the dashboard or use an ftp client to place the contents of the zip file in your theme folder.
Finding themes for a church
WordPress themes exist for all sorts of applications and in all sorts of styles. Finding a theme that suits your church and includes the right features and layout can be quite time consuming. Use our gallery of WordPress Driven Churches to see which themes are working for others as a starting point. Do also make sure you check out the ThemeLoom which has a number of themes that have been designed with churches in mind.
Ten Church WordPress Themes that Work
Here are my personal favourite, best 10 church friendly WordPress themes to get you started:
(I have tried to included a couple from WordPress.com)
Mu by LivingOS Theme Loom
Arthemia by MichaelHutagalun
Options Light by Theme Hybrid
Delta by LivingOS Theme Loom
Coraline by Automattic (available on wordpress.com)
Ocean Mist by Ed Merritt (available on wordpress.com)
WP Church by The Molitor
Genesis – Church by StudioPress
Are all themes equal?
You will soon discover that there are literally thousands of themes available for WordPress. Many are free, others have a cost associated with them and are often referred to as Premium themes. There are some great looking free themes, but Premium themes are often worth the price since they are generally of higher quality, include proper support and often include more advanced features.
Get Something Fresh and New
The best results in terms of design appeal will always be achieved with a custom theme, often based on one of the popular themes above. Do-it-Yourself hacks of themes nearly always look terrible. Unless you have a talent (and it isn’t just your own opinion) then leave design to the theme designers. Pay a theme designer to make a fresh theme for you, tailored to your own church using it’s logos and colours.
I have done a number of themes, plugins and WordPress projects. If you would like a quotation for a custom theme, then get in touch.
Now you have got the look you were after it is time to think about content.