You can indeed build a nice-looking website with a free WordPress theme. But what happens when you encounter a bug in your theme and your site crashes?
You could contact the theme developer and ask for support. But what if there is no support in the first place?
In this post, I’m not only talking about the benefits of premium themes but also why I love StudioPress themes, in particular, and how to install one on your WordPress website.
So let’s get started!
Why Invest in a Premium Theme?
Let’s get the confusion out of the way: when people talk about WordPress themes, they can mean two separate types of theme:
In general, you can expect free to mean things like:
- Limited or no customer support. And not just customer support, but the documentation can be limited as well.
- Limited or no theme updates. In the worst case, even security patches are non-existent.
- It’s not necessarily possible to customize your theme.
- Almost all of them can be installed directly from the WordPress dashboard.
- Unknown Quality Assurance processes: for instance, how well is the theme tested before a release into production?
On the other hand, with a premium theme, things go vice versa.
When you pay for a theme, you can expect to have customer support, continuous updates, theme customization options, and professional Quality Assurance processes.
Now, I’m not here to bash free themes because they do have their place in the WordPress universe.
Besides, sometimes, your money could be tight, and you’d still like to get your website up and running. And in those cases, a free theme will suit your purpose more than well.
Why Have I Chosen StudioPress Themes So Many Times Before?
Over the last ten years, I have used plenty of both free and premium themes on my websites. However, one of the best themes providers so far has been StudioPress.
So, why do I love StudioPress so much? There are a few reasons:
- Robustness: You can expect them to work. And they do.
- Customer support: You can contact both the dedicated customer support or the support forum on your support requests.
- Updated continuously: StudioPress keeps its themes up-to-date.
- Comprehensive documentation: All the themes are well-documented.
- Extendible: StudioPress themes have an active developer community, providing plenty of extensions through the WordPress plugin repository:
As you can see, there are many reasons why I love StudioPress themes.
But before we move on to the actual theme installation, you should understand one crucial component before you can install any StudioPress themes.
Genesis Framework: What It Is and Why You Need It?
When we talk about the Genesis Framework, we also talk about parents and children.
StudioPress themes run on top of the Genesis Framework. This framework acts as a parent and provides the necessary platform and services for developing custom solutions on top of it.
These custom solutions are called child themes. They are built on top of the Genesis framework, and they give your website a look and feel you saw on the theme shop page.
For instance, this is what one of their child themes, Executive Pro, looks like:
StudioPress Themes: How to Install the Academy Pro Theme
Now that you know the principles behind free and premium themes, the Genesis Framework and child themes; it’s time to show you how to install a premium StudioPress theme.
We’ll install the Academy Pro theme, although you can pick any theme you like. And once you know how to install one StudioPress theme, you’ll know how to install the rest of them. Only the configuration options may vary, based on the theme:
1. Finding and downloading your theme
Head over to the themes page on the StudioPress website and find the Academy Pro theme:
What you’ll notice is that the Genesis Framework comes bundled with your child theme:
You can also purchase the framework separately if you want. However, it’s easier to get it in a bundle, especially the first time you buy a StudioPress theme.
When you have purchased the framework once, you don’t have to buy it anymore, and the subsequent theme purchases become less expensive.
Anyway, click the Buy Theme + Framework Package button, and enter your personal information on the form:
Once you have done that, you’ll also create your personal StudioPress account. That’s a place where you can manage your theme downloads centrally.
For instance, this is what part of my StudioPress account looks like:
Take a look at your StudioPress downloads page. You should see these two downloads on your page:
- Academy Pro
- Genesis Framework
Next, to each download, you’ll also see two buttons. The first one is for the installation instructions, and the second one is for downloading the theme to your computer.
Go ahead and download both of those themes to your computer. Once you have done that, you should have two zip files on your local disk:
2. Uploading and Activating the Genesis Framework
Now that you have the installation files, head over to your WordPress website, and go to Appearance > Themes. In that view, click the Add New button:
The next page displays all the free themes you can install to your WordPress website. We are not interested in them.
Instead, click the Upload Theme button at the top, and you can then upload the files you have just downloaded to your WordPress:
Here, click the Choose File button, select the Genesis Framework zip file (in my case, it was named genesis.3.1.0.zip at the time of writing this article) and click the Install Now button. Once the upload and installation have finished, click the Activate link:
Just keep one important thing in mind: You have to install the Genesis Framework first before installing a child theme. If you try to install a child theme before the Genesis Framework, your installation will fail.
The great thing is that you only have to install the framework once on your website.
3. Uploading and Activating the Academy Pro Theme
Installing and activating the Academy Pro child theme follows the same steps as the Genesis Framework.
So, right after uploading and activating the Genesis Framework, you should see this page:
Click the huge plus sign on the Add New Theme section on the page, and then click the Upload Theme button at the top of the page:
There, in the Choose File button section, pick the Academy Pro Theme installation file (named as academy-pro.zip), and click Install Now button. Once the installation is complete - you already know this - click the Activate link to activate your child theme.
When you go to the front page of your website, you should now see your new theme in action:
And this is how you install and activate both the Genesis Framework and a selected child theme.
However, this is not all.
What Happens Next?
You now have an idea on how your website looks. However, there are two things you should remember.
First, right after installing and activating a theme, your website may look different than what you saw on a theme shop page.
This is because theme shops use professional photographs to make their themes more compelling.
Because of this, I have often felt disappointed after installing a theme, and it didn’t look the way it looked on the theme shop page.
For instance, here are the before and after images of Momoyo, which is a free theme. Everything looks good on the theme’s download page:
However, after you have installed and activated the theme on your blog, it looks, well, different (and even if this was not enough, imagine the theme with your own images!):
I think that with this issue, the Academy Pro theme is more forgiving than some other themes. For instance, consider how a theme (Academy Pro) looks on a theme shop page:
And this is how it looks right after installation on my own website:
Second, once you have installed the theme on your website, it comes with default settings and default content.
Naturally, you have additional tweaks to do before you announce your website to the world. This tweaking includes the copy, the images, and the settings, which depend on the theme.
For example, here is a partial list of settings that you can tweak with Academy Pro:
To see a full list of settings that need your attention before publishing your website, follow this post on how to create a WordPress website.
Once you have tweaked all the necessary settings, your site will look much better. Here’s an example of how my freelance blogger website, tkiander.com, looks after I published it:
Hide it Until It’s Ready
There is one final thing before I let you implement what you learned in this post.
The fact is, no one likes to see a website in the middle of the building process (at least your potential visitors). Therefore it’s better to hide your project until you are ready to show it to the world.
So how do you do that?
I have used SeedProd’s Coming Soon & Maintenance Mode plugin, which helps you to create a coming soon page for your website. So instead of showing your visitors a website in progress, they see a professional-looking coming-soon page.
There are both free and premium versions of this plugin, but you’ll most likely manage well with the free version.
You can still access your website, but your visitors see the welcome page you set up. And once your website is ready, you can then turn off the coming soon page.
Why I Love StudioPress Themes: The Conclusion
What I just showed you is how to install the Genesis Framework and a child theme. I also explained why you should hide your project until it’s ready, and why your website may end up looking different than the theme shop page.
I love StudioPress themes because they are robust, the customer support works, and their templates look good.
So don’t hesitate - get your StudioPress theme through this link!