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.

A Newbie's Guide To ThemesThe development of website publishing applications like the WordPress CMS has truly improved web design and web development for business owners.

This is fantastic news for individuals or businesses that want a website that is simple, easy and inexpensive to manage.

Prior to blogging and the development of user-friendly content management systems, if you wanted to build a professional website for your business, you normally would have to wait until both the website development and web design processes were fully completed. This could mean weeks, sometimes even months of waiting!

WordPress themes helped change all this. In this blog post, you will learn what themes are, how WP themes can help you and your business save money, and how WordPress themes make it easy to customize your website.

A Revolution In Web Site Design

More website owners will benefit from an evolution in web design that started several years ago. If you are a small business owner, you will want to learn about this, because it could save your business a lot of time and money on website development and website design costs.

Let’s review what normally happened before WordPress was developed:

First, you would meet with a web developer or designer for a brief. Then, the actual design of the website would be decided upon. This required time being spent with a professional website designer going over areas of the web site like the layout, colors, styles, visual elements, content, etc.

Every page of your site then had to be individually created with all of your design elements and codes inserted into your 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 required to make your site work – script libraries, graphic images, media, etc.

WordPress Themes - An Introduction

(image source:adobe.com)

Only once everything passed testing and worked how it should (and looking the way the client had imagined it to look), was the web site deemed to have been completed and ready for sign off.

Then, web design “templates” came along”. A web site template allows ”look and feel” elements of the website to be worked on separately from content on the page. Having ready-made templates helped to speed up the website development process and resulted in reduced production costs. This also enabled website designers to work with businesses and clients with less money to spend on marketing …

A Basic Guide To Understanding WordPress Themes

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

As the number of businesses adopting “template-based” web design services increased, templates were developed that could offer different customizable features and options, like the option to choose different colours, styles, layouts

As websites and web editing tools developed, web templates also began evolving into website template ”systems”, letting website owners control the design components of their site.

Then, a “blogging” tool called WordPress was developed and helped to start a new digital publishing revolution …

WP Themes - An Overview

(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 push the concept of a website templating system further.

A WP theme controls and integrates the design elements of the web site. It allows you to add a “skin” over your entire site similarly to what a template system does but also gives you more control over the management, appearance and customization of the site’s template options.

As WordPress puts it …

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 stated in the quote above, one of the unique features of the WP theme is that the way your site displays to site visitors is a different system from how your content is managed.

In plain English terms, what this means is that themes let you modify the design of your website as often as you want without modifying your site’s content and all the work you’ve put into it. For example, if WP site has been configured for e-commerce, replacing the theme won’t affect the content or the functionality of the website. All e-commerce features, settings and product information will remain intact, but the site will look completely different.

This is important. Why?

Because when your website is powered with WordPress, you no longer have to spend weeks or months waiting for your site to be done. You can get your business website built quickly and get started with any theme you like, and then change the entire look, feel and design of your website in mere seconds, whenever you want … and as many times as you like!

Even better, you can easily replace any theme on your site with no website code programming skills necessary. Just pick any theme you want, install it on your site and activate it. WordPress allows you to change your site’s design and customize elements like headers, layout, typography and more in a few seconds …

Understanding Themes

Because WordPress is made available as open source software, web designers can design themes specifically for the WordPress CMS platform using the WordPress template system.

This means that thousands of great WP themes are made available to WordPress users. Themes are generally distributed freely under the terms of the GNU General Public License, or they can be purchased as Premium (i.e. paid) themes.

The WordPress development team maintains a FREE directory of WP themes which allows WordPress users to download, access and install thousands of great themes at no cost …

A Basic Guide To Themes

(WordPress.org – WP Themes Directory)

As more users turn to WordPress for publishing and managing their content online, more designers are now starting to create themes for a wider audience of WordPress users.

WordPress themes vary from corporate-looking, to designs that are breathtaking and would normally cost many hundreds of dollars to develop. Surprisingly, most themes can be bought quite cheaply, especially when you compare the cost to what you would have had to pay if a web designer had to code it from scratch.

You can view several theme galleries containing many examples of great WP themes in this page:

Browse Thousands Of FREE WordPress Themes!

(Browse Thousands Of FREE WordPress Themes!)

Benefits Of Using Themes

Here are just a few of the benefits and advantages of choosing WordPress themes over using traditional web template design:

WP Theme Installation Is Easy And Simple

WP themes are really easy to install on your site. Just upload it to your Plugin folder via your administrator section and activate. Even easier still, you can install any of the themes listed in the themes directory at WordPress.org) directly from within your WordPress admin’s “Theme” section.

Themes - An Introduction


  • WordPress has a large community of commercial theme designers and design companies who, collectively, make thousands of fantastic WP Themes available to users. Thousands of these themes are completely free to use!
  • Themes give sites a consistent look across all your blog’s elements, i.e. pages, headers, footers, layout, etc …
  • A “theme” works independently of your web site’s content. This allows you swap the “look and feel” of your website as often as you want without modifying your underlying content.
  • Many themes provide additional built-in features and options that let you easily customize the theme’s style, layout and design properties and create a unique look to suit your taste.
  • Many WordPress themes are built using a framework that allows users to update the theme to newer versions without losing its unique customizations (e.g. CSS styles)
  • WordPress lets you search, import and install WordPress Themes automatically within the dashboard.
  • Themes lets you save hundreds of dollars on website development costs. Free themes cost nothing and most “Premium”themes are typically very inexpensive.

Responsive Themes

Many theme designers are now creating themes that incorporate “responsive” functionality.

A responsive theme allows websites to automatically resize to display smoothly over different screen sizes and resolutions, as well as different platforms) …

Themes - An Overview

A responsive theme is also optimized for different platforms. Users can scroll, read and display a site on various devices without having to resize anything, or requiring website owners to install additional display 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 website will work correctly on all devices, it also means that the theme is newer than non-responsive themes and therefore complies with the latest standards of website design and coding.

We hope that the above overview has given you a better understanding of WP themes, what WordPress themes are, how themes can help you and your business save money on website development costs, and how WP themes make customizing web sites easy.

In our next blog post in our article series on basic features and functionality of WordPress, we show you where to search for great themes for your website.


"This is an awesome training series. I have a pretty good understanding of WordPress already, but this is helping me to move somewhere from intermediate to advanced user!" - Kim Lednum