How to Use Multiple Themes in WordPress

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WordPress themes are an “all or nothing” deal. When you decide on the theme design for your site, you commit to using it for all posts, pages, archives, and even the homepage. For the overwhelming majority of websites, this is the desired behavior. After all, we strive for consistency and recognizability to differentiate and brand our site. However, what if you wish to apply a different theme to a specific page or a subset of posts?

Let’s say for example that you want to segregate your site into two sections – your personal blog, and your e-commerce site. Even though they share the same base URL and domain, you might want to style the two of them differently to create a visual separation. Or say you have a landing page that you wish to set apart as different from your usual content. There can be many such reasons as to why you may want to apply a unique theme to a certain group of pages.

With the default WordPress capabilities, this is not possible. However, we have an excellent plug-in that will get the job done. Let’s take a look at how it works.

Installing “Multiple Themes”

Multiple Themes is a comprehensive and yet easy to use add-on for your WordPress site that allows you to create any number of rules to implement not just a second theme, but a third and a fourth if you so choose. In principle, you can use it to display a new theme for every category page and post.

After downloading and installing the plug-in, you can access its settings from the left-hand side of the WordPress dashboard in the submenu section as shown here:

multiple themes plugin

In this example, I’m going to apply a new theme to the “technology” category of my site. This includes not only the archive for the category, but also the individual posts themselves. Once inside the settings area, scroll down until you see the section called “Select here if URL is a prefix”.

create rule with new theme

As shown in the screenshot above, we require three parameters to define our rule. Since I want to target all posts and archives with the tag of “technology”, I use a wildcard “*” to create a role specifying the category archive and all future page numberings. For this kind of rule, the archive page has “technology” in the third segment of the URL, so that’s the only concrete thing to specify.

In addition to that, I also have to specify which theme I want to use for posts and pages that match the expression. In this example, I’ve simply chosen to use the default TwentySixteen.

Once you save your changes, the rule is added to the predefined list and you can repeat this process so that you have multiple rules targeting different sets of pages. In the screenshot below, you can see that I’ve created yet another rule selecting actual posts and pages belonging to the “technology” category.

multiple rules

Finally, it’s time to test the whole thing. If my rule sets have been accurately defined, my technology pages and posts should now use a new theme. You can see in the screenshot below, that this is exactly what has happened:

new theme activated

This simple operation should be sufficient for most of your multiple theme requirements. However, the plug-in also allows you to create more advanced rule sets that change the default theme altogether. You can also isolate pages based on query parameters for more complex interactions. In short, the “Multiple Themes” plug-in is a Swiss knife tool for all of your needs which require the display of a different theme.

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