What is a Theme?

The WordPress codex describes themes as follows:

Fundamentally, the WordPress Theme system is a way to "skin" your weblog. Yet, it is more than just a "skin." Skinning your site implies that only the design is changed. WordPress Themes can provide much more control over the look and presentation of the material on your website.

We offer 60+ blog themes to Commons users. Some of these themes are customized with Georgetown branding. A number of these, like "Georgetown Course Template" and "Hoya", are already set up with courses in mind. The majority of the themes that you'll find in the themes list, however, are basic WordPress themes that offer different levels of customization. "Atahualpa", for example, allows users to make changes to everything from the font style to header image to blog page setup. Others, like "Chaotic Soul", offer limited customization, most often taking the form of changeable header images. Others allow no modifications beyond the usual sidebar changes.

Georgetown Commons already has a set group of installed themes to choose from. You cannot download any other themes. On Georgetown Domains or any other web-hosting site, you can install any theme you want. There is not a set list that you are restricted to choose from.

How to Change Theme

You can customize the theme for your website. Go to “Appearance” - “Themes” in the left side Dashboard. From there you can see the options that are originally available to you.

For those not using Georgetown Commons, you can choose from many more options. Click “Add New Themes”, then you’ll be able to choose from the hundreds of WordPress themes. Feature Filter allows you to search based on a checkbox of features you’re looking for.

Once you choose a theme, click “Install” on the theme and then “Activate”. Now you have applied a new theme to your WordPress!

Before activating a theme, you can do a live preview to see what your blog would look like. From there, you have the ability to customize what is available with that theme.

Some themes don't support custom menus or sidebar menus.

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You can customize your theme to fit your needs during the live preview or after activation. Once activated, go to "Appearance" - "Customize" on the Dashboard menu. From here you can change different parts of the appearance depending on the theme chosen. Usually this includes the site identity, colors, header image, background image, menus, widgets, and the static front page.


Here are a few things to keep in mind when considering your theme:

  • Different blog themes display pages differently. Most of the time, pages will display horizontally somewhere near your blog header. Some of the newer themes will allow you to display sub-pages of pages by hovering over the main page title. Other themes, however, will list together all pages you create, whether they are main-level pages or sub-pages. Keep this in mind if you are planning on creating a number of pages-- it may make your navigation bar (filled with your pages) unwieldy. If you are using a theme that does not automatically display pages, you can add the "pages" widget to your sidebar. (See widgets.)
  • You may find that you lose your log-in link when changing your theme-- you will originally have had found it under "site admin," "meta," or "options." To retrieve this widget for your sidebar, go append "/wp-admin/" to your blog home page URL, then follow the instructions here for adding a widget. You'll want to add the "meta" widget.
  • While we unfortunately cannot make theme customizations for you, you should consider trying highly customizable blog themes like "Atahualpa."
  • With few exceptions, you can make your sidebar display the things you want to have it display. See the widgets page for more information on customizing your sidebar.

Related Topics:

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