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.

Themes - An IntroductionThe development of flexible web site management tools like the WordPress CMS platform has truly improved web design and web development for business users.

This greatly benefits non-technical users planning to build a website that is relatively simple and easy to manage.

Before “blogging” and the introduction of advanced CMS technologies, if you needed a professional business web site, you typically would have to wait until both the web development and web design processes were fully completed. This could take many weeks, even many months!

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

Web Design Revolution

Businesses have benefited from a change in website design that started several years ago. If you own a small business, you may want to know about this, because it could save your business thousands of dollars on web development or website design costs.

Very briefly, this is how things worked in “traditional” web development before CMS tools like WordPress were developed:

The first step would be to discuss your requirements with a web development company or designer. Next, the “web design” itself would be decided upon. This required time and money being spent with a professional website designer discussing areas of your website such as the layout, colors, formats, visual elements, content, etc.

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

Themes - An Overview

(image source:adobe.com)

Only after everything passed testing and performed the way it was intended to (and looking how a client had wanted it to look), was the website deemed to have been finished and ready for delivery.

Then, web design “templates” came along”. A website template allows design elements of the web site to be worked on separately from the page content. The development of ready-made templates helped to make site creation faster and resulted in reduced production costs. This also enabled web site developers to work with business clients and clients with smaller budgets …

Themes - An Overview

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

As more small businesses began using “template-based” websites, templates started being introduced that could offer expanding customizable features and options, like the ability to choose different colours, styles, layouts

As web sites and website editing tools developed, web templates also started to evolve into website template “systems” that let website owners and web developers control the visual components of their web site.

And then, WordPress was developed and helped to start a new online publishing revolution …

A Basic Guide To Themes

(WordPress – A Content Publishing Revolution)

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

About WordPress Themes

A WordPress theme takes web template systems even further.

The WordPress theme system controls and unifies the design areas of the web site. It lets you add a “skin” over your entire site much like a template system does but it gives you more control over the management, presentation and customization aspects of your template features.

As the official WordPress site explains …

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 feature of the WP theme is that the way your site looks to site visitors is managed independently of the management of your content.

Basically, what this means is that a theme lets you modify the look and feel of your website as often as you want without touching your website’s content and all the functionality you’ve built into it. For example, if WordPress website has been set up for e-commerce, replacing the theme won’t affect the content or the functionality of the web site. All e-commerce features, settings and product information will remain unaffected, but your site will look completely different.

This is important. 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 start with any theme you like, and completely edit the look, feel and design of your WordPress site in minutes, whenever you decide … and as many times as you like!

Even better, you can easily install a theme on your site without needing any website coding skills. Simply pick a theme you want, upload it to your site and activate it. WordPress lets you change your entire site’s web design and customize elements like header images, page layout, style settings and more in less than a few minutes …

Understanding WP Themes

Because WordPress is open source software, web design companies can design themes specifically for the WP CMS platform using the WP template system.

This means that thousands of high quality WordPress themes are made available to WP users. WP are generally 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 gives WordPress users access thousands of excellent WP themes completely free of charge …

Themes - An Overview

(WordPress.org – Free WordPress Theme Directory)

As more users turn to WordPress for online publishing, more designers are now starting to develop themes for a wider audience of web users.

Themes vary from simple-looking, to designs that are simply breathtaking and would easily cost hundreds to many thousands of dollars to commission. Surprisingly, WP themes can be bought quite cheaply, especially when compared to what it would have cost you if a web designer had to code it from scratch.

You can see 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 Themes

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

Ready To Go To Work In Minutes

WP themes are quite easy to install on your site. Just upload a zip folder that contains the plugin to your Plugins folder via your admin user login and activate. Even easier still, you can install any of the themes listed in the free theme repository at WordPress.org) directly from within your WP admin’s “Theme” section.

Understanding WordPress Themes

Additionally …

  • WordPress has a growing community of commercial website designers who, collectively, contribute thousands of quality WP Themes available to users. Many of these themes are 100% free to use!
  • Themes give sites a unified and consistent look across all of your site’s elements, like pages, headers, footers, layouts, etc …
  • A “theme” works independently of your blog’s content. This means you can change the “look and feel” of your web site or blog as often as you like without modifying your blog settings.
  • Many WP themes provide additional features and settings that enable you to easily customize the site’s style and design elements and create a unique look to suit your preferences.
  • Many WordPress themes are built using a framework that lets users upgrade the theme to newer theme versions without losing any customizations (e.g. styles)
  • WordPress allows you to search, import, install and update WordPress Themes automatically from your dashboard.
  • Themes lets you save hundreds of dollars on web design costs. Free WP themes cost nothing and most “Premium”WP themes are normally very inexpensive.

Responsive WordPress Themes

Many theme designers are now creating WP themes that incorporate “responsive” web design.

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

A Basic Guide To Understanding WP Themes

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

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

I hope that this article has provided you with a better understanding of themes, what WP themes are, how they can help your business save money, and how WordPress themes make customizing your web design easy.

In our next article on helping you understand WordPress features, we show you where to find the best WordPress themes for your blog.


"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