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.

WP For Newbies - An Overview Of ThemesThe development of content management applications like WordPress has truly improved web design and web development for anyone wanting to start a website.

This is great for businesses planning to start a digital presence that is simple, easy and inexpensive to manage.

Before blogging and the development of easy-to-use CMS tools, if you needed to get a website for your business, you typically had to wait until both the web development and web design processes were completely done. This could take many weeks, sometimes even many months!

The introduction of WordPress themes helped change all this. In this blog post, we explore what WP themes are, how they help you and your business save money, and how WordPress themes let you easily customize your site.

Website Design Evolution

More businesses today have benefited from a change in website design that started a number of years ago. If you are a small business owner, you will want to learn about this, because it can save you a lot of time and money on web development and web design costs.

In a nutshell, this is what normally took place before WordPress was introduced:

First, you would discuss your project with a web site development firm or designer. After that, the “web design” would be discussed and agreed upon. This meant time and money being spent with a professional website designer going over elements of your site such as the layout, colours, styles, page elements, content, etc.

Every page of your website then had to be individually created with all the design elements and codes scripted into your page content. All pages were then assembled into a web site using links 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 elements, etc.

Themes - An Introduction

(image source:adobe.com)

Only once everything had been tested and was functioning how it should (and looking the way a client had imagined it to look), was the web site deemed as being finished and ready to go live.

The next phase in the evolution of business website design was the introduction of “web templating elements”. A web template allows presentation elements of the web site to be created separately from content on the page. Having templates helped make developing websites faster and resulted in lowered production costs. This also allowed website development companies to work with businesses and clients with smaller budgets …

WordPress Themes - An Introduction

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

As more small businesses began adopting “template-based” websites, templates started being introduced to provide various custom settings, like colour palettes, the ability to select different menu styles, formats, header, footer and navigation elements, layouts, and so on.

As web sites and website editing tools developed, website templates also began transforming into web template “systems” that allow users and web designers to manage their site’s design elements.

Then, WordPress was developed and helped to kick off a new digital publishing revolution …

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:

WordPress Themes

WordPress themes push website templating systems much further.

The WP theme system controls and integrates every aspect of your site’s design. It lets you add a “skin” to your site similarly to what a template system does but also provides users with complete control over the management and customization of all template settings.

As WordPress has stated in its 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, a unique feature of the WordPress theme is that how your web site looks to site visitors externally is kept independent of how your website works in the backend to handle areas like content management and functionality.

In simple terms, what this means is that you can change the design of your website as often as you like without touching your site’s content and all the work you’ve put into it. For example, if WordPress website has been configured for e-commerce, changing the entire look of the site with another theme won’t affect the content or the functionality of the website. All e-commerce features, settings and product information will remain intact, but your 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 done. You can get your business website built quickly and get started with any WordPress theme you want, and then completely edit the look, feel and design of your WordPress site in minutes, whenever you want … and as often as you like!

Even better, you can easily install a theme on your WordPress site without having website design knowledge. Simply choose any WordPress theme you like, install it on your site and activate it. WordPress allows you to change your entire site’s web design and modify elements like header images, page layout, typography and more in minutes …

Understanding WP Themes

Since WordPress is open source software, professional website designers all around the world can design themes specifically for the WordPress CMS platform using the WP template system.

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

The WordPress team maintains a FREE theme directory which allows WordPress users to access thousands of great website templates for free …

WordPress Themes - An Overview

(WordPress.org – WP Theme Directory)

As WordPress becomes more popular, more designers are now starting to develop themes for a wider range of users.

WP themes range from minimal-looking, to clever designs that are impressive and would normally cost many hundreds of dollars to commission. Surprisingly, most premium WP themes are quite inexpensive.

You can see a number of WP theme galleries that include various examples of themes here:

Browse Thousands Of FREE WordPress Themes!

(Browse Thousands Of FREE WordPress Themes!)

Benefits Of Using WordPress Themes

Here are just a few of the benefits of choosing WordPress themes over choosing website development tools that require traditional web design:

Ready To Use In Very Little Time

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

Themes - An Introduction

Additionally …

  • WordPress has a thriving community of professional theme developers who, collectively, make thousands of professional WP Themes available to users. Thousands of these themes are completely free to use!
  • Themes give sites a consistent look across all of your blog’s elements, i.e. pages, headers, footers, layouts, etc …
  • A “theme” works independently of your site’s content. This makes it possible to swap the “look and feel” of your site as often as you like without affecting the underlying content of your website.
  • Many WP themes come with built-in features and settings that let you customize your theme’s style and design properties and create a unique look to suit your needs.
  • Many WordPress themes are built using a framework that enables you to update themes to a newer theme version without losing its unique customizations (e.g. CSS styles)
  • WordPress allows you to search, import, install and update WordPress Themes automatically within the dashboard.
  • Themes helps you save hundreds of dollars on website development costs. Free WordPress themes cost nothing and most “Premium”themes are typically quite inexpensive.

About Responsive Theme Design

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

A responsive theme enables a website to automatically reconfigure the layout to display smoothly across different monitor sizes and screen resolutions, as well as different devices (e.g. computers, iPads, mobile phones, etc.) …

A Basic Guide To Themes

Responsive themes are also optimized for different types of devices. Users can scroll, read and load the site on different device browsers without having to readjust their browser settings, or requiring website owners to have installed additional browser elements.

Note: When searching for WordPress themes, it’s a good idea to choose a responsive WordPress theme. Not only will a responsive theme ensure that your website displays well across your visitors’ devices, it also means that the theme is newer than non-responsive themes and therefore should comply with the latest standards of website design and coding.

We hope that this article has provided you with a better understanding of WordPress themes, what themes are, how themes help you save money, and how themes make customizing web sites easy.

To learn where to find the best WordPress themes for your website or blog, click here:


"These tutorials have so much information and are easy to understand. If you use WordPress or plan to in the future these will help you with everything you need to know." - Valisa (Mesa, Arizona)