WordPress.com Blogging: Changing Themes

3 theme thumbshots New themes are being introduced at WordPress.com more frequently than ever before.  That’s probably because the “stylist/designer/theme wrangling” Staff members have grown in number and are continuing to grow.

“Today marks the first day of my employment as a Theme Wrangler with Automattic and it feels great. I’m more than excited to finally let you know what I’ve been up to for the last little bit.” — Ian Stewart joined Automattic

WordPress.com bloggers now have 80 themes to choose from that allow  them to  switch themes instantly with just a click as frequently as they want to. All themes are widget equipped.  Many customizable headers and a few  have special features.  (INove, Monochrome, Motion, Titan). But there remains  a shortage of 3 column white magazine style themes with customizable headers.  (Hint!)

1. Dashboard Theme Search Utility Feature Filters

You can use the  search utility and Feature Filters in your Dashboard > Appearance >  Browse Themes >  Feature Filters to locate themes of interest to you.  (A-Z, Popular,  Features)

Each theme has a thumbshot and a features summary description. You can browse and when you find one of interest  you can click “Preview”. When you are ready to make your selection you can  click “Activate”.

Below is an example of the thumbshot and information provided for the theme I’m currently using on this blog.

Current Theme

Current theme preview

Vigilance by Drew Strojny

A lean and clean WordPress theme featuring standards and search friendly code. Theme Options Menu allows for serious customization. Designed and coded by Jestro.

Options: Widgets | Extras | Header | Vigilance Options | Typekit Fonts | Edit CSS

Tags: fixed-width, two-columns, white, red, rtl-language-support, right-sidebar, theme-options, custom-header, custom-colors, widgets, light, sticky-post, translation-ready

2. WordPress.com Theme Reviews

Another wordpress.com blogger has published wordpress.com theme reviews you can read. See the Subject Index as theme-related posts are updated each time a new theme is made available. You will also find lots of other useful information for wordpress.com bloggers on this site.

Illustrated instructions are found in wordpress.com support documentation for themes.

3.   Changing themes walk-through

If you  have created many customized text widgets then this is for you.

  • Dashboard > Appearance > Widgets – drag and drop all existing text widgets into “Inactive Widgets” box.
  • Dashboard > Appearance > Themes  –   browse  themes and “Preview”
  • “Activate” the theme of your choice.
  • Dashboard > Appearance > Widgets – over ride default widget display that comes with new theme by  dragging widgets of your choice out of  the “Available Widgets” and dropping them into the sidebar box or boxes.
  • Next drag all text widgets in the”Inactive Widgets” box out of it and drop into the sidebar box or boxes.
  • Open each text widget by clicking on the top right corner and click “Save” and “Close”.
  • View the front page of your blog.
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19 thoughts on “WordPress.com Blogging: Changing Themes

    1. Yes, this can only be done by purchasing an annually renewable CSS editing upgrade and doing the work yourself.
      http://en.support.wordpress.com/custom-css/

      The correct place to post for that kind of support is here. > http://en.forums.wordpress.com.

      Vigilance is NOT a narrow theme. It’s a full width theme so if you expand it to suit yourself then those who are viewing it on the most common screen resolution sizes will have to put up with a using a scroll bar at the bottom in order to view the whole site. When any blogger does that to me I click out of the blog and do not return.

      I am using the most common screen resolution size which is 1024×768. People using widescreen (if you are talking about big, wide monitors) are actually quite rare.
      1024×768 — 40.28%
      1280×1024 — 16.97%
      1280×800 — 16.89%
      1440×900 — 7.71%
      1680×1050 — 4.28%
      800×600 — 4.01%

      That means over 78% of people are on screen resolutions of 1280px width or less. So you may want to take that into consideration.

  1. timethief,

    I’ve been tooling around your wonderful blog (and I also appreciate your friendly “bottom postings”) and haven’t yet found an answer to this question: How do I keep my current theme up and running while I prep my new theme for the unveiling? I’ll need more time for rearranging and tweaking Pages and Widgets than is provided by simply pushing the Activate button. Thanks much.

    1. Hi Rachel,
      Thanks for the kind words. I appreciate hearing that what I blog about is valuable to my readers. The answer to your question is: Every blogger needs a private test blog.

      As we can have as many free wordpress.com blogs as we want and as we do not want to set our blogs to keep search spiders and visitors out while we are customizing a new one getting a test blog is the way to go.

      I use mine not only for testing possible theme changes and trying out their features, but also for trying any new widgets or other additions I am considering making to my main blog. Once I can see what the outcomes will be on my test blog then changing my main blog only takes a few moments and my readers are not negatively impacted by the changes.

        1. @Rachel
          Not really. My replies to forum questions make me aware how often I forget the simple things and keep me humble too. ;)

  2. Hi Time Thief,

    Just wanted to add to the chorus of thank-you’s for all the helpful info on your blog.

    I’m just starting out and I’m sure I’ll be stumbling around for awhile, but it’s great to know you’ve made so much helpful info available– thanks for being so generous!

    Cheers, Mark

  3. Hey,
    I am using the same theme for my blog. And i do aggree with you…I do wish there were more three column customizable header themes :) But till then Vigilance is great.
    A question…I love the social media/share buttons youre using at the end of each post here on this blog…Would you be able to help me by telling me how to do the same for mine…
    Much love,
    Z~

    1. @Zeenat
      How nice to see you here. I usually visit your blog when I’m logged into my personal blog, rather than this one. If you click this link you will see a child version of the Vigilance theme running on a wordpress.org install http://thistimethisspace.com

      The social bookmarking buttons I use on this blog must be manually added to the end of every post. It’s a very easy process that takes only a few moments. Once you have Previewed your blog post and everything is the way you want it, you open a new tab to http://getscoiallive.com

      There you copy paste in the blog title and the shortlink and click “get social”. The code then appears in the box below. You simply copy and paste it into the HTML editor and click “Publish”.

      Love and Peace

    1. @Lucian
      Well, as that’s not what’s happening, and as I have experienced having to recreate content in text widgets I now use the process I provided the walk through for above.

    1. @Universalgeni
      Thanks for the blog compliment. This customizable theme and a bit of inline CSS is what I have used to change the look of my blog. The contrast between blogspot bloggers, who can click and change background colors and fonts and hack the heck out of their themes and wordpress.com bloggers, who must purchase a CSS editing upgrade is glaring. I’m bitterly disappointed by this decision to eliminate the minor things we do to customize our blogs. :( See the elimination edit here > http://en.forums.wordpress.com/topic/about-background-colour?replies=25#post-439709

      1. Yes, that is disappointing. You kind of get the feeling, that staff had not been aware of this option. But I recall having seen it in the threads before. I’m almost sure of this…

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