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 ThemesThe introduction of content publishing technologies like the WordPress Content Management System (CMS) has effectively improved web design and web development for web users.

This is terrific news for individuals or businesses thinking about starting a website that they can fully manage themselves.

Before “blogging” and the introduction of powerful and simple CMS technologies, if you needed a business website, you had to wait until both the web development and website design processes were fully completed. This could mean weeks, even sometimes months of waiting around!

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

Evolution In Web Design

More website owners today are benefiting from an evolution in website design that started a number of years ago. If you are a business owner, you will want to know about this, because it can save you thousands of dollars on website development or website design costs.

Let’s take a look at what normally happened before WordPress came along:

The first step would be to meet with a website development company or website designer for a brief. After this, the design itself would be decided upon. This involved spending time and money with a professional web site designer discussing areas of your website like the, colours, styles, page elements, content, etc.

Each page of your website then had to be individually created with all the design elements and codes inserted into your page content. All the pages were then assembled into a website using links and custom coded navigation menus and uploaded to your server, together with every other file needed to make your site work – script libraries, graphic images, media elements, etc.

WP Themes - An Introduction

(image source:adobe.com)

Only once everything passed testing and worked the way it was supposed to (and looking how a client had wanted it to look), was the website deemed to be completed and ready for sign off.

The next stage in the evolution of business website design was the introduction of “website templates”. Web site templates allow presentation elements of the website to be worked on separately from content on the page. Having template elements helped to make the process of website development faster and resulted in reduced production costs. This also allowed web designers to work with small businesses and clients with smaller budgets …

Themes - An Introduction

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

As the number of web development companies adopting “template-based” websites increased, templates were introduced that provided clients with expanding customization features and options, such as the ability to switch colours, styles, layouts

As websites and web building software evolved, web templates also began to evolve into web templating ”systems”, which enabled users to manage their website’s visual aspects.

Then, 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:

WordPress Themes

A WordPress theme expands the idea of a website templating system much further.

A WP theme controls and unifies every aspect of your website design. It lets you add a “skin” to your entire site much like a template system does but also provides you with more control over the management, presentation and customization of all template features.

As WordPress has described in its official website …

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 and revolutionary features of WordPress is that how your website appears to site visitors on the outside is controlled separately from the management of your content.

Basically, what this means is that you can modify the design of your site as much and as often as you want without affecting your site’s content and all the functionality you’ve built into it. For example, if you have configured your website for e-commerce, replacing the theme won’t affect the content or the functionality of the site. All e-commerce features, site settings and product information will remain unaffected, but your site will look completely different.

Why is this important?

Because when your website is powered by WordPress, you no longer need to wait until your site’s web design is completed. You can get your business website built simply and start with any WP theme you want, and modify the entire look, feel and design of your site in minutes, whenever you choose … and as many times as you like!

Even better, you can easily install a theme on your WP site without needing any web code editing skills. Just choose a WP theme you want, install it on your website and activate it. WordPress allows you to change your web design and modify elements like headers, page layout, style settings and more with just a few mouse clicks …

Understanding Themes

As WordPress is made available as open source software, hundreds of website designers can design themes specifically for the WordPress CMS platform using the WordPress templating system.

This means that thousands of high quality WP themes are made available to WordPress users. WordPress are normally distributed for Free under the terms of the GNU General Public License, or they can be purchased as Premium (i.e. paid) themes.

The WordPress team maintains a FREE directory of WP themes which gives WordPress users access thousands of great web templates at no cost …

Themes - An Overview

(WordPress.org – WordPress Theme Directory)

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

Themes range from functional-looking, to clever designs that are spectacular and could normally cost thousands of dollars to develop. Surprisingly, most WP themes are quite inexpensive to purchase.

You can view a number of theme galleries containing various examples of great themes here:

Browse Thousands Of FREE WordPress Themes!

(Browse Thousands Of FREE WordPress Themes!)

Benefits And Advantages Of Using WordPress Themes

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

Be Up And Running In Very Little Time

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

Understanding WordPress Themes


  • WordPress has a growing online community of commercial website designers and design companies who, collectively, make thousands of quality WP Themes available to WP users. Many of these themes are 100% free to use!
  • Themes give sites a consistent design across all your blog’s elements, i.e. pages, headers, footers, layout, etc …
  • A “theme” works independently of your web site’s content. This makes it possible to replace the “look and feel” of your web site as often as you need without affecting your content.
  • Many themes come with additional built-in features and options that let you easily customize your theme’s style, layout and design elements to create a unique look to suit your taste.
  • Many themes are built using a framework that enables users to upgrade themes to newer theme versions without losing any unique customizations (e.g. styles)
  • WordPress lets you search, upload, install and update WordPress Themes automatically inside the dashboard.
  • WordPress themes helps you save hundreds of dollars on website development costs. Free themes cost nothing and most “Premium”WordPress themes are typically very inexpensive.

About Responsive Theme Design

Many theme designers are now developing “responsive” themes for the WP CMS platform.

A responsive theme enables a website to automatically readjust the web layout to display smoothly over different screen sizes and resolutions, as well as different devices (e.g. PCs, iPads, smart phones, etc.) …

A Newbie's Guide To Understanding Themes

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

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

Hopefully, this article has helped you gain a clearer understanding of themes, what themes are, how they help you save money, and how WP themes make customizing sites easy.

In our next article on helping you understand 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