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 Introduction To WordPress ThemesThe introduction of flexible website management applications like the WordPress CMS platform has effectively simplified web design and web development for business owners.

This is great for business owners thinking of starting an online business presence that is simple and easy to manage.

Before blogging and the development of powerful CMS solutions, if you wanted a business web site, you would have to wait until both the website development and web design processes were fully completed. This could take many weeks, even many months!

The development of WordPress themes changed all this. In this post, you will learn what themes are, how WP themes save you and your business money on website development costs, and how themes make it easy to customize your site.

Web Site Design Evolution

Website owners will benefit from a revolutionary change in web design that has been going for many years now. If you are a business owner, you will want to learn about this, because it can save your business thousands of dollars on web development and website design costs.

Very briefly, here’s what used to happen before WordPress came along:

First, you would discuss your project with a web site developer or designer. After that, the actual “web design” would be decided upon. This required time being spent with a professional web designer discussing areas of your web site like the, colors, formats, graphic elements, content, etc.

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

Understanding Themes

(image source:adobe.com)

Only after everything passed testing and functioned how it was intended to (and looking the way the client had wanted it to look), was the website considered to have been completed and ready to go live.

The next phase in the evolution of web design was the introduction of “website templating elements”. A website template allows the design of the web site to be created separately from content on the page. The development of ready-made templates helped make the process of website creation faster and resulted in lowered production costs. This also enabled web site development companies to service business clients and clients with smaller budgets …

WordPress Themes - An Introduction

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

As the number of businesses adopting “template-based” web design services increased, templates started being introduced that could provide clients with various customization settings, such as colour palettes, the ability to pick different content styles or header, footer and navigation elements, etc …

As web sites and website editor software evolved, web templates also began evolving into web template ”systems”, which enabled website owners to manage their site’s design elements.

And then, a “blogging” software called WordPress was developed and helped to kick off a new content management revolution …

Understanding Themes

(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

WordPress themes push the concept of a web templating system one step further.

The WordPress theme system controls and integrates every aspect of your site’s design. It lets you add a “skin” to your site in a similar way that a website template system does but it also also gives you more control over the management, appearance and customization aspects of your template settings.

As the official WordPress site states …

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 and revolutionary feature of WordPress is that the way your website displays to site visitors externally is a completely different thing from the way your website is configured internally to handle areas like content management and functionality.

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

This is huge! Why?

Because when you use WordPress, you no longer have to wait until your website’s design is completed. You can get your website built quickly and start with any theme you like, and then completely modify 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 replace any theme on your site with no web coding knowledge necessary. Just pick a theme you like, install it on your website and activate it. WordPress lets you change your site’s design and customize elements like headers, page layout, styling options and more in less than a few minutes …

A Basic Guide To WordPress Themes

Since WordPress is distributed as open source software, hundreds of web design companies can create themes specifically for the WordPress CMS platform using the WP templating system.

This means that thousands of great WP themes are made available to WordPress users. WordPress are usually distributed freely under the terms of the GNU General Public License, or sold as Premium (i.e. paid) themes.

The WordPress team keeps a FREE theme directory which allows WordPress users to download and access, thousands of excellent website templates for free …

WP Themes - An Overview

(WordPress.org – WordPress Themes Directory)

As WordPress becomes more popular, more designers are now focusing on creating themes for a wider range of users.

WordPress themes vary from functional-looking, to dynamic designs that are visually spectacular and would typically cost many hundreds of dollars to create. Surprisingly, most premium themes can be bought very cheaply, especially when you compare the cost to what you would have had to pay if a web designer had to create it from scratch.

You can view several WP theme galleries containing many examples of great themes in this page:

Browse Thousands Of FREE WordPress Themes!

(Browse Thousands Of FREE WordPress Themes!)

Themes – Benefits & Advantages

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

Installation Is Easy, Simple And Fast

WP themes are very easy to install on your site. Simply upload the plugin file to your Plugins 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 within your WP site’s admin area.

Understanding Themes

Additionally …

  • WordPress has a growing online community of commercial theme developers and development companies who, collectively, contribute thousands of great-looking, high quality WP Themes available to WordPress users. Thousands of these themes are 100% free to use!
  • Themes give sites a consistent design across all of the blog’s elements, like pages, headers, footers, layout, etc …
  • A “theme” works independently of your website’s content. This allows you swap themes as often as you like without disturbing your settings.
  • Many themes provide additional features and options that enable you to easily customize the theme’s style, layout and design properties to create a unique look to suit your preferences.
  • Many WordPress themes are built using a framework that lets you upgrade themes to a newer theme version without losing its unique customizations (e.g. CSS styles)
  • WordPress lets you search, import and install WordPress Themes automatically directly from your site’s administration interface.
  • WP themes allow users to save thousands of dollars on website design costs. Free WP themes cost nothing and most “Premium”WordPress themes are typically very affordable.

About Responsive WordPress Theme Design

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

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

Themes - An Introduction

Responsive themes are also optimized for different types of devices. Users can navigate, read and display the site on most if not all device platforms without having to readjust their browser settings, or requiring the website owner to have installed additional display elements.

Note: When searching for WordPress themes, we strongly recommend choosing a responsive WordPress theme. Not only will the theme ensure that your web site works across your visitors’ devices, but it also means that the theme is newer than non-responsive themes and therefore probably complies with the latest standards of web design.

We hope that this post has given you a better overview of themes, what WordPress themes are, how themes help you save money on website design costs, and how themes make customizing web sites easy.

In the next article on basic WordPress features, we show you where to find the best themes for your website or 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