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 For Newbies - An Overview Of WordPress ThemesPowerful content management tools like WordPress have truly improved web design and web development for anyone wanting a website.

This is a great thing for individuals or businesses wanting to start a digital presence that is relatively simple, easy and inexpensive to manage.

Before blogging and the development of easy-to-use CMS technologies, if you wanted to get a professional site built for your business, you would have to wait until both the website development and web design processes were fully completed. This process could mean weeks, even months of waiting for the work to be done!

WordPress themes helped change all this. In this blog post, you will learn what WordPress themes are, how themes help you and your business save money, and how WP themes let you easily customize your WP site.

Web Design Evolution

More website owners today have benefited from a tremendous change in website design that started several years ago. If you own a small business, you will want to know more about this, because it can save your business thousands of dollars on website development and web design costs.

Let’s briefly go over how things typically worked in “traditional” web development before WordPress came along:

First, you would meet with a website developer or designer for a brief. Then, the actual “web design” itself had to be discussed and agreed upon. This required spending time and money with someone with web design skills discussing elements of your web site like the layout, colors, styles, graphic elements, content, etc.

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

Themes - An Introduction

(image source:adobe.com)

Only once everything passed testing and was working how it should (and looking how a client had wanted it to look), was the site deemed as being completed and ready to go live.

Then, web design “templates” were developed”. Web templates allow ”look and feel” elements of the web site to be worked on separately from content on the page. Having template elements helped speed up the web development process and resulted in reduced production costs. This also enabled web site development firms to expand their services to include businesses with less money to spend on marketing …

Understanding Themes

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

As the number of businesses adopting “template-based” web design services increased, web templates started being developed to provide expanding custom options, such as the ability to switch colors, styles, layouts

As websites and web editor applications evolved, web templates also started evolving into website template “systems” that enabled website owners to customize their web site’s design elements.

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

WordPress Themes - An Introduction

(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

A WordPress theme drives website templating systems much further.

The WP theme system controls and integrates all of the design areas of the web site. It allows you to add a “skin” over your entire site much like a web template system does but it also also gives you complete control over the management, appearance and customization of template settings.

As the official WordPress site 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 above, a unique and revolutionary feature of a WordPress theme is that the way your web site looks to site visitors on the outside is a completely different thing from your site’s content management aspects.

In plain English terms, what this means is that you can modify the design of your website as often as you like without touching your website’s content and all the work you’ve put into it. For example, if you have configured WordPress website for e-commerce, changing the entire look of your site with a different theme won’t affect the content or the functionality of your site. All e-commerce features, site settings and product information will remain unaffected, but the site will look completely different.

Why is this important?

Because when you use WordPress, you no longer need to spend weeks or months waiting for your site to be completed. You can get your business website built quickly and start with any WordPress theme you like, and change the entire 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 site with no website code programming skills necessary. Simply pick a WordPress theme you like, upload it to your website and activate it. WordPress allows you to change your site’s design and customize elements like header images, layout, style settings and more in a few seconds …

A Newbie's Guide To Themes

As WordPress is distributed as open source software, web designers can design themes specifically for the WordPress platform using the WordPress template system.

This means that thousands of high quality WP themes are made available to WordPress users. Themes are normally distributed for FREE under the terms of the GNU License Definition, or sold as Premium (paid) WordPress themes.

The WordPress team keeps a FREE WordPress Theme Directory which gives WordPress users access thousands of excellent WordPress themes at no cost …

Themes - An Overview

(WordPress.org – Free Theme Directory)

As more businesses turn to WordPress for online publishing, more designers are now focusing on developing themes for a wider range of uses.

WordPress themes vary from functional-looking, to stylish designs that are quite breathtaking and would normally cost thousands of dollars to design. Surprisingly, most premium WP themes are quite inexpensive.

You can view a number of WordPress theme galleries that include stunning examples of WordPress themes in this page:

Browse Thousands Of FREE WordPress Themes!

(Browse Thousands Of FREE WordPress Themes!)

WP Themes – Benefits

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

Quick Installation

Themes are really easy to install on your site. Just upload the plugin file to your Plugins folder via your dashboard and activate. Even easier still, you can install any of the themes listed in the free theme directory at WordPress.org) directly inside your WordPress site’s admin area.

Themes - An Introduction


  • WordPress has a thriving online community of professional website designers who make thousands of fantastic WP Themes available to WP users. Thousands of these themes are completely free to use!
  • Themes give sites a unified and consistent design across all your site’s elements, i.e. pages, headers, footers, menus, etc …
  • A “theme” works independently of your website’s content. This allows you replace the “look and feel” of your web site as often as you want without modifying your underlying content.
  • Many WP themes provide built-in functionality and settings that enable you to easily customize your site’s layout, style and design properties to create a unique look to suit your preferences.
  • Many themes are built using a framework that enables users to update themes to newer theme versions without losing any unique customizations (e.g. CSS styles)
  • WordPress allows you to search, import and install WordPress Themes automatically right inside your dashboard.
  • Themes allow users to save hundreds, even thousands of dollars on website development costs. Free WP themes cost nothing and most “Premium”WordPress themes are typically very affordable.

About Responsive WP Theme Design

Many WordPress theme designers are now creating “responsive” themes for WordPress.

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

Themes - An Introduction

A responsive theme is also optimized for each device type. Users can scroll, read and display your site on various device platforms without having to readjust their browser settings, or requiring website owners to have installed additional display elements.

Note: When selecting, WordPress themes, we recommend choosing a responsive WordPress theme. Not only will a responsive theme ensure that your website displays well on all devices, it also means that the theme is newer than most non-responsive themes and therefore complies with the latest standards and practices of website design and web coding.

We hope that this basic overview has helped you gain a clearer understanding of WP themes, what themes are, how they help you and your business save money, and how WordPress themes make customizing websites easy.

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


"If you're new to WordPress, this can stand on its own as a training course and will stay with you as you progress from beginner to advanced and even guru status." - Bruce (Columbus, Ohio)