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 Themes - An IntroductionAdvanced web management tools like the WordPress CMS have truly simplified web design and web development for non-technical website owners.

This greatly benefits businesses planning to start a website that is simple and easy to manage.

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

WordPress themes changed all this. In this post, we will explore what WordPress themes are, how they save you and your business money on website design costs, and how WordPress themes let you easily customize your WordPress site.

Revolutionary Website Design

More businesses today are benefiting from a change in web design that began shortly after websites were first introduced. If you own a small business, you will want to learn about this, because it could save your business thousands of dollars on web development and web design costs.

Very briefly, here’s what typically happened before WordPress came along:

The first step would be to meet with a website development agency or web site designer for a brief. Then, the design itself had to be decided upon. This involved time being spent with a professional website designer going over areas of your site like the, colors, styles, visual elements, content, etc.

Each page of your web site then had to be hand-coded with all the elements and scripts coded around your content. All of the pages were then assembled together into a web site using links and custom coded navigation menus and uploaded to your server, together with all other files needed to make your site work – script libraries, graphic images, media elements, etc.

Themes - An Introduction

(image source:adobe.com)

Only after everything had been tested and functioned the way it was supposed to (and looking how a client had wanted it to look), was the web site deemed to be completed and ready to go live.

The next phase in the evolution of web design was the introduction of “website templating elements”. Web site templates allow the design of the website to be worked on separately from the page content. The introduction of template elements helped speed up the website creation process and resulted in reduced production costs. This also enabled website development firms to service small business clients with less money to spend …

Understanding WordPress Themes

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

As more web site development companies began adopting “template-based” websites, web templates were created that could provide a range of customization settings, like color palettes, the ability to specify different menu styles or menu styles, etc …

As web sites and web editor applications developed, website templates also began to evolve into website template ”systems”, enabling users to manage the design components of their site.

Then, WordPress was introduced and helped to start a new content management revolution …

A Newbie's 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:

WordPress Themes

WordPress themes drive the idea of a web template system even further.

A WordPress theme controls and integrates every aspect of your web design. It lets you add a “skin” to your entire site much like a website template system does but it also also gives you more control over the management, appearance and ability to customize all template options.

As stated in 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 and revolutionary features of WordPress is that the way your website appears to site visitors on the outside in no way affects the management of your content.

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

Why is this such a big deal?

Because with WordPress, you no longer have to wait until your site’s web design is done. You can get your business website built simply and get started with any theme you like, and completely edit the look, feel and design of your website in a few seconds, whenever you want … and as many times as you like!

Even better, you can easily replace any theme on your WP site without needing any web code programming skills. Just pick a theme you want, upload it to your site and activate it. WordPress allows you to change your site’s design and modify elements like headers, layout, typography and more in a few seconds …

WP Themes - An Overview

As WordPress is distributed as open source software, commercial web design companies can create 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. Themes are usually 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 development team keeps a FREE WordPress Theme Directory which allows WordPress users to access thousands of great themes completely free of charge …

Themes - An Overview

(WordPress.org – Themes Directory)

As more users turn to WordPress for publishing and managing their content online, more designers are now focused on developing themes for a wider range of users.

Themes range from professional-looking, to designs that are simply breathtaking and could easily cost hundreds to many thousands of dollars to commission. Surprisingly, themes are quite inexpensive to purchase.

You can see several WordPress theme galleries containing stunning examples of WP themes here:

Browse Thousands Of FREE WordPress Themes!

(Browse Thousands Of FREE WordPress Themes!)

Benefits Of WordPress Themes

Here are just some of the many benefits and advantages of using WordPress themes over choosing web building tools that require traditional website design:

Installation Is Easy And Simple

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

Themes - An Introduction


  • WordPress has a large community of professional website developers who, collectively, make thousands of great WordPress Themes available to users. Many of these themes are completely free to use!
  • Themes give sites a unified and consistent design across all the site’s elements, i.e. pages, headers, footers, menus, etc …
  • A “theme” works independently of your site’s content. This means you can change the “look and feel” of your website as often as you want without changing the website’s settings.
  • Many themes come with additional built-in features and settings that allow you to easily customize the site’s layout and design properties and create a unique look to suit your preferences.
  • Many WordPress themes are built using a framework that lets you upgrade the theme to newer versions without losing any customizations (e.g. styles)
  • WordPress allows you to search, import, install and update WordPress Themes automatically right within the admin panel.
  • WordPress themes allow users to save hundreds of dollars on website development costs. Free themes cost nothing and most “Premium”WP themes are typically very affordable.

Responsive WordPress Theme Design

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

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

Themes - An Introduction

A responsive theme is also optimized for each device type. Users can navigate, read and display your site on most if not all device platforms without having to resize anything, or requiring website owners to install additional browser elements.

Note: When purchasing WordPress themes, we recommend choosing a responsive WordPress theme. Not only will the theme ensure that the content and layout of your site works on all of 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.

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

In our next blog post in the article series on helping you understand features and functionality of WordPress, we show you where to find great themes for your website or blog.


"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)