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 For Newbies - An Introduction To WP ThemesThe introduction of web site management systems like the WordPress Content Management System (CMS) has effectively simplified web design and web development for users.

This greatly benefits business owners that want to own a website that they can manage themselves.

Before blogging and the introduction of user-friendly CMS solutions, if you needed to build a web site for your business, you typically would have to wait until both the website development and web design processes were completely done. This process could mean waiting for weeks, sometimes even many months!

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

The Evolution Of Web Design

Website owners are benefiting from a tremendous revolution in web design that began shortly after websites were first introduced. If you are a business owner, you may want to learn more about this, because it could save your business thousands of dollars on web development and website design costs.

Let’s go over what happened before WordPress was introduced:

First, you would meet with a web developer or designer for a brief. After that, the “web design” itself would be decided upon. This involved time being spent with someone with website design skills discussing areas of the web site such as the, colours, styles, visual elements, content, etc.

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

WP Themes - An Introduction

(image source:adobe.com)

Only after everything passed testing and was performing the way it was intended to (and looking how the client had imagined it to look), was the website considered to be finished and ready to go live.

Then, website “templates” came along”. Website templates allow design elements of the web site to be worked on separately from the page content. The introduction of template elements helped speed up the web site creation process and resulted in reduced production costs. This also enabled web development companies to service smaller businesses with less money to spend on marketing …

Themes - An Introduction

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

As more businesses started using “template-based” websites, templates were designed that could provide clients with a range of custom settings, such as the ability to choose different colours, styles, layouts

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

Then, WordPress was introduced and helped to start a new digital publishing 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 takes the idea of a website templating system further.

A WordPress theme controls every aspect of your web design. It lets you add a “skin” to your site similarly to what a web template system does but it also also gives you more control over the management, appearance and customization aspects of all template options.

As per 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, a unique and revolutionary feature of a WordPress theme is that the way your website appears to visitors is a different thing from how your content is managed.

Basically, what this means is that a theme lets you modify the appearance of your website 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 WP website for e-commerce, changing the entire look of your site with another theme won’t affect the content or the functionality of your site. All e-commerce features, settings and product information will remain unaffected, but your site will look completely different.

Why is this such great news for businesses?

Because when your site is powered with WordPress, you no longer have to spend weeks or months waiting for your web design to be done. You can get your business website built quickly and get started with any theme you like, and completely edit the look, feel and design of your WordPress site in mere 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 code editing skills necessary. Just pick any theme you want, install it on your site and activate it. WordPress allows you to change your entire site’s web design and modify elements like header images, layout, style settings and more in less than a few minutes …

WordPress Themes - An Overview

Because WordPress is open source software, website design companies from all over the world can design themes specifically for the WordPress CMS platform using the WordPress templating system.

This means that loads of great WP themes can be downloaded by WP users. Themes are generally distributed for Free under the terms of the GNU General Public License, or they can be purchased as Premium (paid) themes.

The WordPress development team keeps a FREE theme directory which allows WordPress users to download and access, thousands of excellent website templates at $0 cost …

WordPress Themes - An Overview

(WordPress.org – WP Theme Directory)

As more businesses turn to WordPress for online publishing, more designers are now focusing on creating themes for a wider audience of web users.

Themes vary from functional-looking, to quirky designs that are simply stunning and could normally cost many hundreds of dollars to commission. Surprisingly, most themes are fairly inexpensive.

You can view several theme galleries containing stunning examples of WP themes in this post:

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 website building applications that require traditional web design:

Ready To Use In No Time

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

WP Themes - An Introduction

Additionally …

  • WordPress has a growing online community of professional website developers and development companies who, collectively, contribute thousands of quality WordPress Themes available to WP users. Many of these themes are 100% free to use!
  • Themes give sites a unified and consistent “look and feel” across all your site’s elements, i.e. pages, headers, footers, menus, etc …
  • A “theme” works independently of your blog’s content. This allows you replace WordPress themes as often as you want without changing your website’s data.
  • Many themes provide built-in functionality and settings that allow you to customize your site’s style and design elements and create a unique look to suit your preferences.
  • Many WordPress themes are built using a framework that enables you to upgrade themes to newer theme versions without losing any unique customizations (e.g. styles)
  • WordPress allows you to search, import, install and update WordPress Themes automatically directly from your dashboard.
  • Themes helps you save thousands of dollars on website development costs. Free WP themes cost nothing and most “Premium”WP themes are typically quite affordable.

Responsive Themes

Many theme designers are now creating “responsive” themes for the WordPress platform.

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

A Basic Guide To Themes

A responsive theme is also optimized for each device type. Users can scroll, read and load your site on most device platforms without having to readjust their browser settings, or requiring website owners to install additional browser elements.

Note: When selecting, WordPress themes, we strongly recommend choosing a responsive WordPress theme. Not only will a responsive theme ensure that the content and layout of your site will work correctly across all of your visitors’ devices, it also means that the theme is newer than non-responsive themes and therefore should comply with the latest standards and practices of website design and coding.

We hope that this overview has helped you gain a clearer understanding about themes, what themes are, how WP themes help you and your business save money on web development costs, and how WordPress themes make customizing sites easy.

In the next blog post in our article WordPress beginners on understanding basic WP features, we show you where to find great themes for your blog.


"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