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.

Understanding WordPress ThemesThe development of website publishing platforms like the WordPress CMS platform has truly improved web design and web development for business owners.

This is great for non-technical users thinking about getting an online presence that they can manage by themselves.

Prior to blogging and the introduction of user-friendly CMS technologies, if you wanted a website, you would have to wait until both the web development and website design processes were completely done. This process could take many weeks, sometimes even months!

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

A New Development In Website Design

Website owners have benefited from a tremendous revolution in website design that started a number of years ago. If you own a small business, you may want to learn about this, because it can save you a lot of time and money on web development or website design costs.

Very briefly, here’s how things used to work in “traditional” web design before tool like WordPress was introduced:

The first step would be to discuss your project with a web site developer or web designer. After that, the design itself would be discussed and agreed upon. This meant time and money being spent with someone with web design skills discussing things of your web site like the layout, colors, styles, graphic elements, content, etc.

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

WordPress Themes - An Overview

(image source:adobe.com)

Only after everything passed testing and performed the way it should (and looking the way a client had wanted it to look), was the website deemed to be finished and ready to go live.

Then, website “templates” came along”. Website templates allow the ”look and feel” of the website to be worked on separately from the page content. The introduction of ready-made templates helped to make site development faster and resulted in reduced production costs. This also allowed website designers to work with small businesses with less money to spend on marketing …

Understanding Themes

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

As the number of businesses choosing “template-based” websites increased, templates started being developed that offered clients with a range of customizable options, like the ability to switch colors, styles, layouts

As web sites and web editor software developed, web templates also started transforming into web template ”systems”, letting website owners and website designers control their website’s visual components.

And then, a “blogging” tool called WordPress came along and helped to start a new business website revolution …

WordPress 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:

About WordPress Themes

A WordPress theme expands the concept of a website templating system much further.

The WP theme system controls every aspect of your web site design. It lets you add a “skin” to your site similarly to what a web template system does but it provides you with complete control over the management and ability to customize all template options.

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, a unique and revolutionary feature of a WP theme is that the way your web site looks to site visitors on the outside is kept independent of how your content is managed.

In plain English terms, what this means is that you can change the appearance of your site as much and as often as you want without touching your site’s content and all the functionality you’ve built into it. For example, if you have set up your site for e-commerce, changing the entire look of the site with another theme won’t affect the content or the functionality of your web site. All e-commerce features, 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 need to wait until your website’s design is completed. You can get your website built simply and start with any WP theme you want, and completely modify the look, feel and design of your website 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 with no web design skills required. Simply choose any WordPress theme you like, install it on your website and activate it. WordPress lets you change your entire site’s web design and customize elements like header images, page layout, typography and more in less than a few minutes …

Understanding Themes

Because WordPress is open source software, commercial website design companies can create themes specifically for the WP CMS platform using the WordPress templating system.

This means that loads of great WP themes are made available to WP users. Themes are generally distributed as Free Software under the terms of the GNU License Definition, or they can be purchased as Premium (paid) WordPress themes.

The WordPress development team keeps a FREE directory of WP themes which allows WordPress users to access thousands of great website templates completely free of charge …

WP Themes - An Overview

(WordPress.org – Themes Directory)

As more users turn to WordPress for publishing and managing their digital presence, more designers are now starting to develop themes for a wider range of uses.

Themes vary from bare-looking, to exciting designs that are quite beautiful and could typically cost many hundreds of dollars to develop. Surprisingly, most themes can be purchased fairly inexpensively, especially when compared to what it would have cost you if a website designer had to code it from scratch.

You can view several WordPress theme galleries that include various examples of themes in this article:

Browse Thousands Of FREE WordPress Themes!

(Browse Thousands Of FREE WordPress Themes!)

WP Themes – Benefits

Here are just some of the many benefits of choosing WordPress themes over using traditional website design:

Easy To Install

Themes are really easy to install on your site. Simply upload the plugin file to your Plugin folder via your WordPress admin section and activate. Even easier still, you can install any of the themes listed in the themes directory at WordPress.org) directly from your WordPress site’s admin area.

A Newbie's Guide To Themes


  • WordPress has a thriving community of commercial web developers who, collectively, make thousands of excellent WordPress Themes available to users. Thousands of these themes are completely free to use!
  • Themes give sites a unified and consistent look across all your blog’s elements, like pages, headers, footers, layout, etc …
  • A “theme” works independently of your blog’s content. This means you can swap WP themes as often as you like without affecting your blog settings.
  • Many themes provide additional built-in features and options that let you customize the site’s style and design elements and create a unique look to suit your business.
  • Many WordPress themes are built using a framework that lets users update themes to a newer theme version without losing any customizations (e.g. styles)
  • WordPress allows you to search, upload, install and update WordPress Themes automatically within your site’s administration interface.
  • WP themes helps you save hundreds, even thousands of dollars on website development costs. Free WP themes cost nothing and most “Premium”WordPress themes are normally quite affordable.

About Responsive WordPress Theme Design

Many theme designers are now developing “responsive” WP themes.

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

WP Themes - An Overview

A responsive theme is also optimized for different types of devices. Users can scroll, read and load a site on different device browsers without having to readjust their browser settings, or requiring the website owner to install additional browser elements.

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

We hope this basic overview has given you a clearer understanding about themes, what WordPress themes are, how they help your business save money, and how WP themes make customizing websites easy.

In our next article in the article series for non-technical users on understanding basic features and functionality of WordPress, we show you where to search for great themes for your website.


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