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Pick a theme

A theme is the visual design of your site. Themes take your content (i.e., pages, posts, text, images) and display it in that theme’s design. The theme defines where menus, the logo, and widgets appear on your website, as well as the default color scheme, fonts, and other design features, which you can then customize to add a personal touch. You can switch themes any time, and as many times as you like, to find a theme that’s right for you. Note that if you’d like to upload third-party themes and plugins, you’ll need to be on the Business Plan or eCommerce plan.

Browsing themes

There are many themes to choose from on, from super-sleek and minimal to fun and festive. You can quickly browse themes right in your dashboard: go to My Sites → Appearance → Themes. The Recommended themes include newest Block themes that are designed to use the new Site Editor.

You can search for themes by feature or theme name, or toggle between free, premium, or all themes. When you click the 3 dots in the bottom right corner of any theme thumbnail you’ll have access to additional information such as a Live Demo of the theme, the Info page with details about the theme, as well as Support and Activation options.

If you know what look 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 a detailed overview and the ability to check out a demo site. Or, if you’re sold, just click on Activate this design.

If it’s layout and features you care about the most, you can narrow 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.

Keep in mind that the Recommended themes use templates built with blocks to be able to display your content rather than using theme options in the Customizer.  For these themes, you can instead focus on the design features you see in the demo knowing you’ll be able to reproduce the layout of your choice with blocks.

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 feel wrong for you if they don’t channel your personality.

Choosing 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.

Your content: If you know what your subject matter will be, you can further narrow the list of likely themes. If you love photography and know you’ll be posting images with most posts, you’ll want to search for keywords to consider photography-friendly themes, where visuals get most of the attention.

If you’re more writing-oriented, there are many themes that make your text the star, including most of our blog focused themes. Keep in mind that choosing a theme is less about your topic or niche, and more about the visual appearance that appeals to you. You might not find a theme that seems to represent pets, but any theme can be used to showcase your pet focused website. The key is to look at the overall layout and presentation, then swap out the images and text with the visuals and information that fit for you.

What if you’re not sure what your site will feature, or you envision posting on a variety of topics? First, have no fear — that’s true for many bloggers, especially when they start out. Second, there are plenty of themes that are well-suited for different types of posts. Take a look, and see which designs attract you.

Your time and energy: Some themes can handle more customization 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 and the time you can devote to customization. The last thing we want is for you to feel frustrated by your site — we want you to stick around and publish.

You’ll find that Classic themes offer a more ready-made structure for your site. With these themes you follow the instructions on the Info Page to configure the settings (many Classic themes offer unique features specific to the theme) and the theme controls the overall layout.

Hybrid themes are more minimalist, with less built-in features and options. With these themes you’re focusing on setting up your content within the pages and posts.

Block themes offer the highest level of control. With these themes you’ll be using the Site Editor to customize templates for every piece of your site from the header all the way down to the footer, and everything in between. They also has the steepest learning curve. If you’re new to working with Block themes, we recommend taking our Create Your Site course to get a good handle on the basics.

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 to change your theme.

To pick a new theme, go to My Sites → Appearance → Themes to browse and make your selection.

When switching themes, your “content” (as in pages and posts) will always be safe, you won’t lose anything. However, at the moment “templates” work a bit differently and currently don’t transfer between themes. As this is a new feature, we can expect to see changes to how templates are managed in the future. For now, simply be heads up about this point. Also note that so long as your active theme isn’t “retired” you can always switch back to your previous theme to get things back the way they were. (You can determine if your theme is retired or not by going to the Info Page for the theme.)

If you’re considering switching themes within we recommend watching our Fearless Theme Switching with workshop replay. If you have a self-hosted WordPress site, you can watch this version of the same workshop here.

Take your site mobile

Many of your visitors will not be reading your site on a computer. They’ll be on phones and tablets of various sizes. Luckily, you can make sure that visitors can read your content on screens of all sizes.

All 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.

What’s next? In the following section, we’ll take the theme you chose and add personal touches so visitors know without a doubt that they’re on your blog or site (and not just because you’ve used your headshot as the background image). Move on to Get Configured.