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.

Understanding ThemesFlexible web publishing applications like the WordPress CMS have effectively simplified web design and web development for business owners.

This greatly benefits business owners that want to own a website that they can easily manage themselves.

Before blogging and the introduction of powerful CMS technologies, if you wanted to build a website for your business, you normally would have to wait until both the web development and website design processes were fully completed. This could mean waiting for many weeks, sometimes even many months!

WordPress themes have changed all this. In this blog post, we explain what themes are, how themes help you and your business save money, and how WordPress themes help you easily customize your WordPress site.

Web Site Design Revolution

More website owners today are benefiting from a revolutionary change in website design that started a number of years ago. If you own a business, you may want to learn more about this, because it could save you a lot of time and money on web development and website design costs.

Very briefly, here’s how things worked in “traditional” website development before software like WordPress came along:

First, you would meet with a website development company or web site designer for a brief. After that, the actual design would be discussed and agreed upon. This meant spending time and money with a professional website designer going over areas of the site like the, colours, formats, page elements, content, etc.

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

WP Themes - An Introduction

(image source:adobe.com)

Only once everything had been tested and functioned the way it was intended to (and looking the way a client had wanted it to look), was the site deemed as being completed and ready to go live.

The next step in the evolution of website design was the introduction of “website templates”. Website templates allow presentation elements of the web site to be worked on separately from content on the page. Having ready-made templates helped to make website creation faster and resulted in lowered production costs. This also enabled web site developers and designers to work with smaller business clients and clients with less money to spend …

A Newbie's Guide To Understanding Themes

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

As the number of small businesses choosing “template-based” websites increased, web templates started being designed that could offer various customization features and options, like colour palettes, the ability to pick different styles or page layouts, and so on.

As web sites and website editing software developed, website templates also began evolving into web template “systems” that let website owners control their site’s design aspects.

Then, a “blogging” software called WordPress was developed and helped to kick off a new website revolution …

A Newbie's Guide To WP Themes

(WordPress – A Content Publishing Revolution)

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

WordPress Themes

A WordPress theme pushes website template systems one step further.

A WordPress theme controls and integrates every aspect of your web site design. It lets you add a “skin” to your site similarly to what a template system does but it also also provides users with more control over the management and ability to customize template settings.

As per 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 the WordPress theme is that the way your website looks to site visitors on the outside is managed separately from how your website is configured internally to handle areas like content management and functionality.

In simple terms, what this means is that WordPress themes let you change the look and feel of your site as much and as often as you like without touching your site’s content and all the functionality you’ve built into it. For example, if WordPress site has been set up for e-commerce, changing the entire look of your site with a different theme won’t affect the content or the functionality of your website. All e-commerce features, plugin settings and product information will remain intact, but the site will look completely different.

This is huge! Why?

Because with WordPress, you no longer need to spend weeks or months waiting for your website to be completed. You can get your business website built quickly and get started with any WP theme you like, and completely modify the look, feel and design of your website in a few minutes, whenever you choose … and as often as you like!

Even better, you can easily install a theme on your site without needing website code editing knowledge. Just pick any theme you want, upload it to your website and activate it. WordPress lets you change your site’s design and customize elements like headers, page layout, styling options and more in less than a few minutes …

WordPress Themes - An Overview

Since WordPress is open source software, website design companies anywhere in the world can create themes specifically for the WP CMS platform using the WP templating system.

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

The WordPress team keeps a FREE directory of WP themes which allows WordPress users to download and access, thousands of great website templates for free …

A Newbie's Guide To Understanding WordPress Themes

(WordPress.org – Free WordPress Theme Directory)

As the popularity of WordPress soars, more designers are now starting to develop themes for a wider audience of WordPress site owners.

WP themes vary from functional-looking, to dynamic designs that are beautiful and would easily cost thousands of dollars to commission. Surprisingly, most premium themes can be purchased very inexpensively, especially when compared to what you would have been charged if a web designer had to develop it from scratch.

You can view a number of theme galleries containing many examples of great premium WP themes here:

Browse Thousands Of FREE WordPress Themes!

(Browse Thousands Of FREE WordPress Themes!)

WordPress Themes – Benefits And Advantages

Here are just a few of the benefits of using WordPress themes over using traditional website design:

Quick & Easy Installation

WP themes are quite easy to install on your site. Simply upload it to your Plugin folder via your admin user account and activate. Even easier still, you can install any of the themes listed in the WordPress theme repository at WordPress.org) directly inside your WP dashboard.

WordPress Themes - An Introduction

Additionally …

  • WordPress has a growing online community of professional web designers who, collectively, contribute thousands of great-looking, high quality WP Themes available to users. Many of these themes are completely free to use!
  • Themes give sites a unified and consistent “look and feel” across all the site’s elements, like pages, headers, footers, menus, etc …
  • A “theme” works independently of your digital content. This means you can swap themes as often as you want without affecting the settings.
  • Many themes provide built-in functionality and settings that enable you to customize your site’s style and design properties to create a unique look to suit your taste.
  • Many themes are built using a framework that allows users to upgrade themes to newer versions without losing any unique customizations (e.g. styles)
  • WordPress allows you to search, upload, install and update WordPress Themes automatically directly from the site’s administration interface.
  • Themes lets you save hundreds of dollars on web development costs. Free themes cost nothing and most “Premium”WordPress themes are typically very inexpensive.

Responsive Themes

Many theme designers are now creating “responsive” themes.

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

Understanding Themes

A responsive theme is also optimized for different platforms. Users can navigate, read and load a site on all device browsers without having to resize anything, or requiring website owners to have installed additional themes.

Note: When purchasing WordPress themes, we recommend choosing a responsive WordPress theme. Not only will the theme ensure that your web site works across your visitors’ devices, it also means that the theme is newer than most non-responsive themes and therefore complies with the latest standards of web design and coding.

Hopefully, the above article has provided you with a good understanding of themes, what themes are, how themes can help you and your business save money on web development costs, and how themes make it easy to customize a site.

In our next article on understanding basic features and functionality of WordPress, we show you where to find great themes for your website.


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