Using Themes

Note that we refer to “ClassicPress Themes” in this document, however you can also use WordPress Themes with the ClassicPress CMS. Currently, the Theme Repository that you can access in the ClassicPress Dashboard in fact only shows WordPress Themes. You can use them, but you must be sure that they are compatible with WordPress 4.9, and regularly check that they still are compatible.

You might not receive Update notices of these themes, if the Theme you have installed happens to drop Support for Wordpress 4.9 (ClassicPress) during an update. That is why you also must continuously consult the Theme’s official website or WordPress Theme Download Page, to be sure that you do not miss any updates.

As ClassicPress grows, Developers do and will continue to add Themes that are designed to work With ClassicPress. As of this moment, only the Default Themes shipped with ClassicPress are 100% built for ClassicPress.

What is a Theme?Link to this section

Fundamentally, the Theme system is a way to control the Design and Appearance of your ClassicPress site. Themes can provide much more control over the visual presentation of your content and other data on your ClassicPress site, as well as behaviour of certain site’s elements while interacting with visitors.

A Theme is a collection of files that work together to produce a graphical interface with an underlying unifying design for a website. These files are called template files. A Theme modifies the way the site is displayed, without modifying the underlying software. Themes may include customized template files, image files (*.jpg, *.png, *.gif), style sheets (*.css), custom Pages, as well as any necessary code files (*.php). For an introduction to template files, see Template Files.

Let’s say you write a lot about Bread and Wine. Through the use of the ClassicPress Loop and template files, you can customize your Wine category posts to look different from your Bread category posts. With this powerful control over what different pages and categories look like on your site, you are limited only by your imagination. For information on how to create custom look for various templates in your theme, take a look at Template Hierarchy.

Template Hierarchy

Template Hierarchy

Default ThemesLink to this section

ClassicPress currently comes with 6 themes (3 parent and 3 child themes).

  • The Default ClassicPress TwentySeventeen Theme, a Child Theme of the WordPress TwentySeventeen Theme.
  • The ClassicPress TwentySixteen Theme, a Child Theme of the WordPress TwentySixteen Theme.
  • The ClassicPress TwentyFifteen Theme, a Child Theme of the WordPress TwentyFifteen Theme.

The main difference to the native WordPress Default Themes is that ClassicPress Themes come with a Child Theme (thus are ready for customisation and development), and they do not put any notices or brands in your website’s footer, like WordPress Themes do.

You can switch between Themes from the Appearance menu in the Administration Screen. Themes you add to the theme directory will appear in the Administration Screen > Appearance > Themes as additional selections.

Appearance - Themes Screen

Appearance – Themes Screen

Get New ThemesLink to this section

As mentioned earlier, currently you can only get Themes from the WordPress Theme Directory (which is the official site for WordPress Themes), even if you are using ClassicPress. Every theme in this directory is reviewed by a dedicated team and tested against wide range of rules, all of which are ensuring secure and pleasant experience for theme user, but keep in mind that those reviewers do not test the Themes with ClassicPress.

It is up to you to ensure the Theme works with ClassicPress (WordPress 4.9) and to keep yourself updated with the ongoing development work done on the Theme you choose.
The ClassicPress community recommends to use the default ClassicPress Themes instead, and/or to develop your own Theme, made for ClassicPress.

As the community continues to grow, there will also be ClassicPress specific Themes, provided on the ClassicPress Theme Directory. We will update this documentation as this happens.

When choosing a Theme from the WordPress repository you must make sure you are not installing a Theme that uses any Blocks or some of the newer WordPress features like Patterns and Templates. Those will not work in ClassicPress

Unfortunately the WordPress Theme Directory does not stop any Theme from showing up in your Themes screen on a ClassicPress Install, even if said theme is not compatible with ClassicPress or WordPress 4.9. It is thus the best practice to navigate to the specific theme’s repository page, in order to find its minimal requirements and ensure that it will work with ClassicPress.

Read more about Compatibility of WordPress Themes, to know how to determine if your preferred theme would work with ClassicPress.

Adding New ThemesLink to this section

Most of themes come with installation instructions, especially the ones that may require more steps than the usual theme installation. Be sure to read through and follow those instructions for the successful installation of the Theme. If your Theme does not work after following any provided instructions, please make sure it is supposed to work with ClassicPress or WordPress 4.9, and contact the Theme author for help.

Adding New Themes using the Administration ScreensLink to this section

You can download any theme from WordPress Theme Directory directly to your site by using the Add New option in the Appearance sub-menu.

  • Log In to your ClassicPress Administration Area.
  • Select the Appearance screen, then Themes.
  • Select Add New.
  • Either use the Search or Filter options to locate a Theme you would like to use.
  • Click on the Preview link to preview the Theme or the Install link to upload the Theme to your site,
  • Or use the Upload Theme button at the top of page to upload a zipped copy of a Theme that you have previously downloaded to your machine. This way you can also upload themes that are not stored on the WordPress Theme Repository.

Install New ThemeLink to this section

When the Theme is already downloaded but not activated Live Preview option will give you a preview of your site with your own, existing content.

Adding New Themes by using cPanelLink to this section

If your host offers the cPanel control panel, you can use its Upload option to upload the Theme files to your site. For this you will need Theme files in an compressed archive (.zip or .gz).

  • Download the Theme .zip file to your machine.
  • In cPanel File Manager, navigate to your Themes folder. Depending on your hosting, path to Themes folder can differ a bit but essentially you are looking for public_html inside which you’ll find /wp-content/themes/.
  • Once you’re inside the Themes folder in cPanel File Manager, click on Upload and upload that .zip file you saved in Step 1.
  • Once the .zip file is uploaded, right click on the name of that file in cPanel and select Extract from the context menu.
  • When Theme files are successfully extracted, follow the instructions below for activating the new Theme.
cPanel ClassicPress Themes Folder

cPanel ClassicPress Themes Folder

Adding New Themes Manually (FTP)Link to this section

To add a new Theme to your ClassicPress installation via FTP protocol, you’ll need FTP client and extracted Theme files.

  • Download the Theme archive (.zip) and extract the files it contains. You should have a folder named as theme itself, containing theme files.
  • Using an FTP client to access your host web server and navigate to /wp-content/themes/ directory.
  • Upload the Theme folder to this directory on your host server.
  • Follow the instructions below for activating the new Theme.

Activating the ThemeLink to this section

Now that new Theme is in /wp-content/themes/ directory (whether you used Administration Screens, cPanel or FTP method), this new Theme is ready to be activated. All themes in /wp-content/themes/ directory are available for Activation and Update (when update is provided by theme author), but only one theme from this directory can be Active.

When theme is Activated it means that this theme’s style and functionality (look and behavior) will be applied on your site. You will be informed by Administration notification about successful activation of the Theme.

Theme Activated Notice

Theme Activated Notice

To activate a Theme for your site:

  • Log in to the ClassicPress Administration Area.
  • Select the Appearance screen, then Themes.
  • You should see here all themes from your /wp-content/themes/ directory and from here you can see details for each of them by clicking on Theme Details (rollover the Theme thumbnail).
  • Live Preview option will give you preview of your site with your site’s content.
  • To activate the Theme click the Activate button.
  • Your selection will immediately become active.

Note: If the Theme preview is blank, do NOT activate the new Theme without investigating further. Your site may not be displayed correctly, otherwise. If you do not see Theme’s thumbnail at all, your new Theme might be corrupted or broken. Take a look below installed theme’s thumbnails if there is any info about broken themes. In this case contact the Theme author for help.

Broken Theme Notice

Broken Theme Notice

Creating ThemesLink to this section

If you are interested in creating your own Theme for distribution, or learning more about the architecture of Themes, there are several resources where to start.

  1. The WordPress Theme Handbook at Keep in mind that this is a not ClassicPress Focused Documentation and there might be details documented that are invalid for ClassicPress. We will update this documentation with ClassicPress Specific guidelines as time goes by.
  2. The ClassicPress Code Reference.
  3. The ClassicPress Developer Guides.
  4. The ClassicPress Programming Forum.
  5. The ClassicPress Themes Forum.
  6. The ClassicPress Themes Slack Channel.

If you simply want to customize your current Theme for your own use, consider using a ClassicPress Child Theme. The ClassicPress CMS already comes with 3 Child Themes bundled, for an easy and fast kickstart of your development work.