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.

A Basic Guide To WP ThemesAdvanced web site management platforms like the WordPress CMS platform have effectively improved web design and web development for anyone wanting to start a website.

This is a great thing for non-technical users thinking of running a website that they can manage themselves.

Prior to “blogging” and the development of sophisticated content management systems, if you wanted a professional site, you typically had to wait until both the website development and web design processes were completely done. This process could mean waiting for many weeks, even many months!

The development of WordPress themes have changed all this. In this article, we explain what WordPress themes are, how WP themes save your business money on website design costs, and how themes allow you to easily customize your site.

Web Design Evolution

Businesses, especially small businesses, will benefit from a tremendous change in web design that has been going for several years now. If you are a small business owner, you will want to learn about this, because it can save your business thousands of dollars on web development or website design costs.

Very briefly, here’s how things typically worked in “traditional” web development before WordPress came along:

First, you would discuss your requirements with a web development agency or designer. After that, the design would be discussed and agreed upon. This involved spending time and money with someone with website design skills discussing elements of the website like the layout, colors, formats, visual elements, content, etc.

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

A Newbie's Guide To Understanding WP Themes

(image source:adobe.com)

Only once everything had been tested and worked the way it was supposed to (and looking the way a client had imagined it to look), was the website deemed as being finished and ready for sign off.

The next stage in the evolution of website design was the introduction of “website templates”. A web template allows the design of the website to be created separately from the page content. The development of template elements helped to speed up the process of developing web sites and resulted in lowered production costs. This also allowed web development firms to expand their services to include small businesses and clients with less money to spend …

Themes - An Introduction

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

As more businesses began using “template-based” websites, web templates were created to offer clients with expanding customization features, like colour palettes, the ability to select different styles, formats, elements, page layouts, etc …

As websites and website editor software developed, website templates also began evolving into website template ”systems”, enabling website owners to manage the visual elements of their website.

And then, WordPress was introduced and helped to kick off a new web revolution …

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 pushes the idea of a website template system one step further.

A WP theme controls and unifies every aspect of your web site design. It allows you to add a “skin” over your entire site similarly to what a template system does but also provides users with more control over the management, appearance and customization aspects of your template settings.

As WordPress 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, one of the unique features of a WP theme is that the way your website appears to visitors does not affect the management of your content.

In simple terms, what this means is that themes let you modify the design of your site as often as you want without affecting your site’s content and all the work you’ve put into it. For example, if you have configured your site 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 intact, but your site will look completely different.

This is huge! Why?

Because when you use WordPress, you no longer have to spend weeks or months waiting for your website design to be done. You can get your business website built quickly and get started with any WP theme you want, and completely change the look, feel and design of your WordPress site in a few minutes, whenever you want … and as many times as you like!

Even better, you can easily replace any theme on your site without needing web code programming skills. Just pick a WP theme you like, upload it to your site and activate it. WordPress allows you to change your web design and customize elements like headers, page layout, styling options and more in less than a few minutes …

Themes - An Introduction

Because WordPress is made available as open source software, professional website designers can create themes specifically for the WordPress platform using the WordPress templating system.

This means that loads of high quality WP themes can be downloaded by WordPress users. Themes are generally distributed for FREE under the terms of the GNU General Public License, or sold as Premium (i.e. paid) WP themes.

The WordPress development team keeps a FREE WordPress Theme Directory which gives WordPress users access thousands of excellent web templates for free …

A Newbie's Guide To WP Themes

(WordPress.org – WordPress Themes Directory)

As the popularity of WordPress soars, more designers are now focused on developing themes for a wider range of users.

WP themes range from professional-looking, to designs that are visually stunning and would typically cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars to develop. Surprisingly, most themes can be bought fairly cheaply, especially when compared to what it would have cost you if a website designer had to code it from scratch.

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

Browse Thousands Of FREE WordPress Themes!

(Browse Thousands Of FREE WordPress Themes!)

Benefits Of Using WP Themes

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

Ready To Go To Work In Minutes

WordPress themes are really easy to install on your site. Just upload it to your Plugin folder via your WP admin login and activate. Even easier still, you can install any of the themes listed in the themes directory at WordPress.org) directly from within your WP dashboard.

WordPress Themes - An Overview

Additionally …

  • WordPress has a large community of commercial theme designers and design companies who make thousands of professional WordPress Themes available to users. Many of these themes are 100% free to use!
  • Themes give sites a unified and consistent look across all the blog’s elements, i.e. pages, headers, footers, menus, etc …
  • A “theme” works independently of your website’s content. This means you can swap the “look and feel” of your website as often as you need without deleting your site’s underlying content.
  • Many WordPress themes provide additional features and options that enable you to easily customize the site’s style and design elements 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 its unique customizations (e.g. styles)
  • WordPress allows you to search, upload, install and update WordPress Themes automatically directly from within the site’s administration interface.
  • Themes allow users to save thousands of dollars on web design costs. Free WordPress themes cost nothing and most “Premium”WP themes are typically very affordable.

Responsive Themes

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

A responsive theme allows a website to automatically readjust the web layout to display smoothly across different screen sizes and resolutions, as well as different devices (e.g. PCs, tablets, mobile phones, etc.) …

Themes - An Introduction

Responsive themes are also optimized for different platforms. Users can scroll, read and load a site on various devices without having to readjust their browser settings, or requiring website owners to have installed additional display elements.

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

We hope this overview has given you a better understanding of WP themes, what themes are, how themes help your business save money, and how themes make it easy to customize a website.

In the next blog post in our article series on helping you understand WordPress features, we show you where to search for great WordPress themes for your blog.


"This is AMAZING! I had learnt about how to use WordPress previously, but this covers absolutely everything and more!! Incredible value! Thank you!" - Monique, Warrior Forum