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 OverviewThe introduction of web site management applications like WordPress has effectively improved web design and web development for business users.

This greatly benefits business owners thinking of building a website that they can manage by themselves.

Before “blogging” and the introduction of user-friendly content management systems, if you needed a professional website, you would have to wait until both the website development and web design processes were fully completed. This process could take many weeks, even months!

WordPress themes helped change all this. In this post, you will learn what WP themes are, how they can help you and your business save money on website design costs, and how themes help you easily customize your WP site.

Evolution In Website Design

More website owners have benefited from a tremendous revolution in website design that has been going for several years now. If you own a small business, you will want to learn more about this, because it could save you thousands of dollars on web development and web design costs.

In a nutshell, this is how things typically worked in “traditional” web design before solution like WordPress came along:

The first step would be to discuss your project with a website development agency or web site designer. After this, the ”look and feel” of your site would be discussed and agreed upon. This involved spending time with a professional website designer going over elements of the site like the layout, colors, styles, graphic elements, content, etc.

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

WordPress Themes - An Overview

(image source:adobe.com)

Only once everything had been tested and worked how it was intended to (and looking the way a client had imagined it to look), was the website considered to have been completed and ready to go live.

Then, web design “templates” came along”. Website templates allow presentation elements of the web site to be created separately from content on the page. Having template elements helped to make building websites faster and resulted in reduced costs of production. This also enabled website development companies to work with smaller business clients with less money to spend …

Themes - An Overview

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

As more businesses began adopting “template-based” websites, templates started being designed that offered clients with a range of customization features, such as the option to choose different colors, styles, layouts

As websites and website editor tools developed, website templates also started transforming into web templating ”systems”, permitting website owners to customize the visual elements of a website.

And then, a “blogging” software called WordPress was introduced and helped to start a new online publishing 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:

WordPress Themes

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

The WP theme system controls and unifies the design aspects of the web site. It lets you add a “skin” over your entire site much like a template system does but it provides you with more control over the management and customization aspects of all template settings.

As explained 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 stated in the quote above, one of the unique features of WordPress is that how your website displays to visitors on the outside is an entirely separate system from your site’s functional aspects (e.g. content management and functionality).

In plain English terms, what this means is that themes let you change the appearance of your site as much and as often as you like without modifying your site’s content and all the functionality you’ve built into it. For example, if WP site has been configured for e-commerce, changing the entire look of your site with a different theme won’t affect the content or the functionality of your website. 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 your site is powered with WordPress, you no longer need to wait until your site’s web design is done. You can get your website built quickly and get started with any WordPress theme you want, and completely customize the look, feel and design of your site in a few seconds, whenever you choose … and as many times as you like!

Even better, you can easily install a theme on your WordPress site with no website coding skills necessary. Simply pick any WordPress theme you want, install it on your website and activate it. WordPress lets you change your site’s design and customize elements like headers, page layout, style settings and more in minutes …

Understanding WP Themes

As WordPress is open source software, hundreds of web design companies can design themes specifically for the WordPress platform using the WP templating system.

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

The WordPress development team maintains a FREE theme directory which gives WordPress users access thousands of excellent website templates for free …

WP Themes - An Overview

(WordPress.org – WordPress Theme Directory)

As more businesses turn to WordPress for publishing and managing their content online, more designers are now focusing on creating themes for a wider audience of WordPress site owners.

WP themes vary from functional-looking, to exciting designs that are visually stunning and would normally cost hundreds to thousands of dollars to develop. Surprisingly, most premium WordPress themes can be bought fairly cheaply, especially when compared to what you would have had to pay if a web designer had to code it from scratch.

You can view a number of WP theme galleries that include various examples of great themes here:

Browse Thousands Of FREE WordPress Themes!

(Browse Thousands Of FREE WordPress Themes!)

WP Themes – Benefits

Here are just a few of the benefits and advantages of choosing WordPress themes over choosing traditional web template design:

Ready To Go To Work In Very Little Time

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

WordPress Themes - An Overview

Additionally …

  • WordPress has a thriving community of commercial web developers who, collectively, contribute thousands of great WP Themes available to users. And many of these themes are 100% free to use!
  • Themes give sites a consistent “look and feel” across all of your blog’s elements, i.e. pages, headers, footers, menus, etc …
  • A “theme” works independently of your web site’s content. This allows you swap the “look and feel” of your site as often as you like without affecting the website’s content.
  • Many themes provide additional built-in functionality and settings that let you customize the theme’s style, layout and design elements to create a unique look to suit your taste.
  • Many WordPress themes are built using a framework that allows you to update themes to newer theme versions without losing any unique customizations (e.g. CSS styles)
  • WordPress allows you to search, upload, install and update WordPress Themes automatically right inside the admin panel.
  • Themes helps you save hundreds, even thousands of dollars on web design costs. Free WordPress themes cost nothing and most “Premium”themes are typically very inexpensive.

About Responsive Themes

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

A responsive theme allows websites to automatically readjust screen size to display smoothly over different screen sizes and resolutions, as well as across different platforms) …

Themes - An Overview

Responsive themes are also optimized for each platform. Users can navigate, read and display your site on most if not all device platforms without having to resize anything, or requiring the website owner to install additional themes.

Note: When downloading WordPress themes, we strongly recommend choosing a responsive WordPress theme. Not only will the theme ensure that the content and layout of your site displays well across your visitors’ 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 web coding.

We hope this article has given you a good overview of themes, what WordPress themes are, how they can help you save money, and how WordPress themes allow you to easily customize a website.

To learn where to find great themes for your blog, go here:


"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