In this guide I will show you how to install WordPress Theme and Website Builder for your site. Here’s an outline of the main topics in this article:
Before we start however I’ll give a brief description of what a Theme is.
What is a WordPress Theme?
A WP Theme dictates what your WordPress site looks like.
So, while the WordPress software holds your content files (that’s why it’s referred to as a Content Management System, or CMS in short), the Theme manages the design of the website.
In other words, a WordPress Theme defines what the site looks like and how your content (images, typography, and videos) is laid out.
When you install WordPress, it includes the default WP theme, which is a very simple look. If you visit your site at this stage, you will see that the site is structured in a certain basic way.
This is how mine looked when I installed WordPress. Yours will probably be very similar.
This is the default WP Theme. You can keep this, but I prefer to install a different WordPress Theme which gives me more flexibility to design my site exactly how I want it.
Now the WordPress Organization has a library of various Themes that can be downloaded for your website. Some of these are free and some are paid.
Since WordPress is open source software, there are thousands of developers that create Themes and offer them within the WordPress library for users.
You have to be very careful which Theme you download however. Some of these free Themes will have various bugs and carry security risks. You therefore need to make sure you can trust the developer of that Theme.
I have had my fair share of bad experiences with the wrong Themes and that’s why I have created a short list of Developers I trust for my WordPress sites.
To make this as simple as possible for you, I will just go ahead and tell you that the best WordPress Theme you can use on your site is GeneratePress. It’s the only Theme I have been using on my sites for the last three years.
This is a simple and fast theme that does not need many resources and therefore does not slow down the website. Keep in mind that a fast website is important to give your visitors a better experience and consequently get you more GOOGLE SEO points.
The people behind GeneratePress also offer a wide range of Style Templates for WP sites. Which means that even though, other sites might be using the same Theme, the websites can look completely different depending on the Site Template you choose to implement for your site.
Alternatively, you can create your own template with GeneratePress and its complimentary site builder; GenerateBlocks. I will show you exactly how to do this in my later WordPress Guides.
GeneratePress Theme is completely free; however, it also offers a Premium (paid) addon. I have the Premium addon and I recommend you invest in this too.
The Premium GeneratePress Theme Addon gives you a lot of useful features, that will allow you to style your site with ease.
I also need to specify here, that if you intend to follow my next guides on how to build your website, then you will need to buy the Premium addon for GeneratePress as I will be using various features that are not available on the free theme alone.
In fact, in the previous guide, WordPress General Settings, we only touched on a few basic settings. The reason for this is that we will now use the GeneratePress Theme settings options for the rest of the site set-up.
At the time of writing this post, the GeneratePress Premium Addon was priced at $59.
Now, if you’re on the fence about spending this money, it’s good to point out that there aren’t many more essential paid tools I will be using in my guides.
In fact this is the only essential paid tool we will use to create the website. All the other tools we use will be the free versions.
There are then some other optional paid tools for the content writing part of the guides.
How to install WordPress Theme
So how do we get this Theme and install it on our WordPress dashboard?
To install a free WP Theme you will need to go into the Appearance Menu of your WP Dashboard, download it from the WP library of Themes and Activate it.
I will show you step by step how to do this.
Download and Install GeneratePress WordPress Theme
As mentioned, the Basic GeneratePress theme itself is free. In the following section I will show you a step-by-step guide how to install it and activate it.
As usual we start with a summary of the steps involved and then you can find the detailed instructions further down.
- Login to your WordPress Dashboard
- Go to APPEARANCE option on WP side menu
- Click on THEMES
- Press on the ‘ADD NEW’ button
- Search for GENERATEPRESS
- Click INSTALL
- Click ACTIVATE
- Go back to THEME dashboard and delete the extra Themes.
To download the free GeneratePress Theme, login to your WP dashboard (you do this by typing your site name followed by /wp-admin in the Web Browser), or directly form your Siteground account.
Go to APPEARANCE option on WP left-side menu and click on THEMES.
Appearance > Themes
You will notice a few pre-installed WP Themes that are already on your dashboard. Disregard these. We will delete them later. For now, just press on the ‘ADD NEW’ button at the top.
Once you click on the ADD NEW button you will be taken into the WP library of Themes. At the top right corner there is a search bar.
Type in ‘GeneratePress’, press SEARCH and the Theme Banner should show up.
Now click on the ‘INSTALL’ purple button.
This will install the Theme directly in your WordPress dashboard.
Once the Theme is installed the purple button will turn into an ‘ACTIVATE’ button. Go ahead and press this button so that we activate this new Theme for your website.
That’s it. We now have the basic free GeneratePress theme installed and activated on our WordPress dashboard.
Next, we should get rid of the pre-installed themes so that we don’t have too much clutter wasting resources on our WordPress back-end which risks slowing down our site.
Go back and click the THEMES option (left hand side of WP dashboard). This will take you to the installed Themes dashboard.
Delete all other Themes (that are not GeneratePress). To do this, hover your mouse over the Theme Banners, and press on THEME DETAILS which comes up when you hover on the banner.
This will take you to the Theme Description page. At the bottom right corner of this page, you should see the word ‘DELETE’ in red. Go ahead and press this.
A pop-up box asking you ‘are you sure you want to delete this theme?’ will pop up. Click OK.
Do this for all other themes except GeneratePress..
Installing GeneratePress Premium Addon
In the next step, we will create an account with GeneratePress and buy the premium addons that will help you build an amazing website with extreme ease.
This costs around $59 but believe me when I say, it’s worth every penny as it will save you a lot of time and effort. It will also avoid us having to hire a professional developer or site builders. So, I really see this as a long-term cost saving investment.
This is even more true if you intend to build more than one site. In fact, GeneratePress allows you to use your license for up to 500 websites!
- Create Account on https://generatepress.com/account/
- Buy the GeneratePress Pro
- Login to your GeneratePress account and download GP Premium
- Login to your WP Dashboard
- Go to PLUGINS > ADD NEW
- Select UPLOAD PLUGIN at the top
- Press on Choose File and select the GP Premium ZIP file
- Press the ‘INSTALL NOW’ button.
- When installed press ‘ACTIVATE PLUGIN’ (blue button)
- Go to WordPress Dashboard > APPEARANCE > GENERATEPRESS
- Insert GP Premium License key
- Press UPDATE KEY (Do not choose Beta updates)
- Scroll down and activate the following modules: Backgrounds, Blog, Copyrights, Disable Elements, Elements, Menu Plus, Spacing, Typography.
To get the premium addon, go into https://generatepress.com/pricing/ and click on the GET STARTED button under the $59 column. You will then be asked to create an account and buy the GeneratePress Theme.
Note: that the license can be renewed every year, however if you choose not to renew it after the first year, your site will still work. The renewal is paid for yearly support and updates. This is common on all WP support software.
Just as an example, one of my websites which I built 10 years ago, uses a different paid Theme. I haven’t paid for the renewal in over 7 years, because I don’t maintain this particular site anymore, yet it still works perfectly.
Once you’re registered and paid for the license, login to your GeneratePress account. In the account homepage you should see 2 options under DOWNLOADS, being GeneratePress and GP Premium.
We have already downloaded the GeneratePress free basic theme from WordPress directly.
Now it’s time to download the Premium Addons. So, click on the big red DOWNLOAD button under GP Premium and the Theme addons will start downloading. It will only take a few seconds.
The next step is to upload this addon into our WordPress.
So, login to your WordPress Dashboard and go to PLUGINS option on the left side menu.
Click on ADD NEW from the dropdown.
You will see the Add Plugins page of your WP. At the top of this page click on UPLOAD PLUGIN option.
Plugins > Add New > Upload Plugin
Now you can either drag and drop the GeneratePress software you just downloaded or else click on CHOOSE FILE and select the GP Premium Zip file from your downloads folder.
Once this is done just press the INSTALL NOW button.
This will take a few seconds and you will then see a new button come up which says, ACTIVATE PLUGIN (blue button). Go ahead and click this.
You will be redirected to the Plugin page in WP Dashboard where you can see all your installed plugins.
Now click on APPEARANCE in the left hand menu of WordPress, and you will see that a new option is available from the dropdown that says ‘GeneratePress’.
Click on this so you go to the GeneratePress Dashboard Page within your WordPress.
Appearance > GeneratePress
Here you have to insert your GP Premium License key. Copy the license key from your GeneratePress account –https://generatepress.com/account/ and paste it in the box provided.
Now press the SAVE KEY button.
It’s important you do not toggle on the option to ‘Receive BETA updates’.
Activate GeneratePress Modules
In the next step we will Activate the GeneratePress Modules that we need on WordPress.
To activate these, scroll down within the GeneratePress Dashboard where we just inserted the License Key and click on the blue Activate buttons of the following:
- Disable Elements
- Menu Plus
When done, it should look like this:
Now that we have the theme and the premium addons; let’s go ahead and get their free Website Builder.
Install WordPress Website Builder
A Website Page Builder is a software that will allow non-technical persons (people with no coding or web development experience) to create a website that looks and feels as good as the best websites out there.
There’s a bit of a learning curve until you get used to Page Builders, however once you dedicate a few solid days playing around with the software, you will be creating beautiful websites and web pages in just a few hours.
The website builder I like to use is GenerateBlocks, for 2 reasons.
First, it’s created by the same people that made the GeneratePress Theme we will be using on our WordPress site. This means that the theme and the builder work extremely well together with no bugs.
Second reason is that, just like their Theme, their Website Page Builder is light and clean (code-wise) which means that your site will be super-fast. Remember that this is extremely important for your site visitors and for google ranking (SEO).
The good news is that since we have the Premium Addons of GeneratePress, then we get the GenerateBlocks website builder for free.
Let’s go ahead and install GenerateBlocks plugin.
This will involve the same process as before however this time we do not need to upload the plugin since we will find it in the WordPress Directory.
- Go to WP Dashboard > PLUGINS > ADD NEW
- Search for ‘Generateblocks’.
- Press ‘INSTALL NOW’
- Press ‘ACTIVATE’
Go to Plugins on left of WordPress dashboard. Click on ADD NEW.
Search for ‘GenerateBlocks’ in the search bar at the top. Click SEARCH.
Press INSTALL and then press ACTIVATE.
That’s it. You should now see an added item in the left-hand side menu of your WordPress dashboard that says GenerateBlocks.
In the upcoming tutorials we will be installing some other Plugins to our WordPress dashboard. These will help us with Google Search Engine Optimization (SEO), but before we do that we need to set up Google Search Console.
For a full list of my WordPress Guides, click here.