WordPress Themes Explained

This tutorial explains what WordPress themes are, what makes WordPress themes unique, and the benefits of using WordPress themes to improve the design of your website or blog.

WordPress Themes - An IntroductionPowerful web publishing platforms like the WordPress Content Management System (CMS) have truly simplified web design and web development for website owners.

This is a great thing for individuals or businesses thinking about getting a website that is easy to manage.

Before blogging and the development of easy-to-use content management systems, if you wanted a professional web site, you had to wait until both the website development and website design processes were fully completed. This process could mean weeks, even sometimes months of waiting around!

The introduction of WordPress themes changed all this. In this article, you will learn what themes are, how they save your business money on web design costs, and how WordPress themes make it easy to customize your WP site.

Web Design Evolution

Businesses will benefit from a tremendous revolution in website design that started a number of years ago. If you own a small business, you will want to learn about this, because it could save your business thousands of dollars on website development and web design costs.

In a nutshell, this is what used to happen before WordPress came along:

First, you would discuss your project with a web site development agency or website designer. After this, the design would be decided upon. This involved time and money being spent with someone with website design skills going over elements of the website like the, colors, styles, page elements, content, etc.

Each page of your website then had to be hand-coded with all of your elements and codes written into the page content. The pages were then assembled together into a web site using hyperlinks and custom coded navigation menus and uploaded to your server, together with every other file needed to make your website work – script libraries, images, media elements, etc.

Themes - An Overview

(image source:adobe.com)

Only after everything passed testing and performed the way it should (and looking the way the client had wanted it to look), was the site deemed to have been completed and ready for sign off.

Then, website “templates” came along”. A web template allows the design of the website to be created separately from content on the page. The introduction of templates helped to speed up the website creation process and resulted in reduced production costs. This also allowed web designers to service smaller businesses with smaller budgets …

A Basic Guide To Themes

(image source: www.dreamweaver-templates.org)

As the number of small businesses using “template-based” web design services increased, templates started being created that could provide clients with various customization options, like the ability to choose different colours, styles, layouts

As web sites and website building software developed, website templates also began transforming into website templating ”systems”, letting website owners customize the design aspects of their web site.

Then, a “blogging” application called WordPress came along and helped to kick off a new content management revolution …

A Newbie's Guide To Understanding Themes

(WordPress – A Content Publishing Revolution)

To learn more about content management systems and the benefits of the WordPress CMS, see the tutorial below:

The WordPress Theme

WordPress themes take the idea of a web template system much further.

The WP theme system controls every aspect of your website design. It lets you add a “skin” to your entire site similarly to what a website template system does but it gives you more control over the management and customization of all template settings.

According to the official WordPress site …

A WordPress Theme is a collection of files that work together to produce a graphical interface with an underlying unifying design for a weblog. 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, *.gif), style sheets (*.css), custom Pages, as well as any necessary code files (*.php).

(source: WordPress.org)

As the above quote states, one of the unique features of WordPress is that the way your site appears to site visitors externally is controlled separately from the way your website works internally to handle areas like content management and functionality.

Basically, what this means is that themes let you change the look and feel of your site as often as you like without touching your site’s content and all the work you’ve put into it. For example, if your website has been set up for e-commerce, replacing the theme won’t affect the content or the functionality of the web site. All e-commerce features, site settings and product information will remain unaffected, but the site will look completely different.

This is huge! Why?

Because when you use WordPress, you no longer need to spend weeks or months waiting for your website to be completed. You can get your website built simply and start with any WordPress theme you want, and completely modify the look, feel and design of your WordPress site in a few seconds, whenever you want … and as often as you like!

Even better, you can easily install a theme on your WP site without having web code programming knowledge. Simply pick a WordPress theme you like, upload it to your site and activate it. WordPress lets you change your web design and modify elements like headers, layout, styling options and more in less than a few minutes …

Themes - An Introduction

Since WordPress is open source software, hundreds of website design companies can design themes specifically for the WordPress CMS platform using the WP templating system.

This means that thousands of great WP themes are made available to WP users. Themes are usually distributed for FREE under the terms of the GNU License Definition, or they can be purchased as Premium (i.e. paid) themes.

The WordPress development team maintains a FREE WordPress Theme Directory which allows WordPress users to download and access, thousands of great web templates at $0 cost …

Themes - An Introduction

(WordPress.org – Free WordPress Theme Directory)

As the popularity of WordPress increases, more designers are now focusing on creating themes for a wider audience of WordPress users.

WP themes range from simple-looking, to designs that are beautiful and would typically cost thousands of dollars to create. Surprisingly, most WordPress themes are quite inexpensive.

You can see several theme galleries containing many examples of themes here:

Browse Thousands Of FREE WordPress Themes!

(Browse Thousands Of FREE WordPress Themes!)

Themes – Benefits

Here are just some of the many benefits of choosing WordPress themes over choosing traditional website design:

Be Up And Running In Minutes

Themes are very easy to install on your site. Simply upload a zip folder containing the plugin files to your Plugins folder via your admin user section and activate. Even easier still, you can install any of the themes listed in the WP themes directory at WordPress.org) directly inside your WP dashboard.

WP Themes - An Introduction

Additionally …

  • WordPress has a large community of professional website designers who contribute thousands of great-looking, high quality WP Themes available to users. Many of these themes are 100% free to use!
  • Themes give sites a consistent look across all your site’s elements, like pages, headers, footers, layout, etc …
  • A “theme” works independently of your blog’s content. This means you can change WP themes as often as you want without affecting your content.
  • Many WordPress themes come with additional functionality and options that enable you to easily customize the site’s layout, style and design properties and create a unique look to suit your preferences.
  • Many themes are built using a framework that allows you to upgrade themes to newer theme versions without losing any unique customizations (e.g. CSS styles)
  • WordPress allows you to search, upload, install and update WordPress Themes automatically within your admin panel.
  • Themes lets you save hundreds, even thousands of dollars on web design costs. Free WordPress themes cost nothing and most “Premium”themes are normally quite inexpensive.

About Responsive WordPress Theme Design

Many theme developers are now developing themes that incorporate “responsive” design protocols.

A responsive theme allows a website to automatically resize to display smoothly over different screen sizes and resolutions, as well as across different devices (e.g. PCs, tablets, cell phones, etc.) …

WordPress Themes - An Introduction

Responsive themes are also optimized for each platform. Users can scroll, read and load your site on most device browsers without having to resize anything, or requiring the website owner to have installed additional browser elements.

Note: When purchasing WordPress themes, it’s a good idea to choose a responsive WordPress theme. Not only will the theme ensure that your web site will display correctly on all of your visitors’ devices, but it also means that the theme is newer than non-responsive themes and therefore probably complies with the latest standards of web design coding.

I hope that this basic overview has given you a clearer understanding of themes, what themes are, how they help your business save money on web development costs, and how themes make customizing web sites easy.

In the next blog post in our article series on understanding basic WP features, we show you where to search for great WordPress themes for your blog.


"I have used the tutorials to teach all of my clients and it has probably never been so easy for everyone to learn WordPress ... Now I don't need to buy all these very expensive video courses that often don't deliver what they promise." - Stefan Wendt, Internet Marketing Success Group