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 Themes - An IntroductionThe development of powerful website management tools like WordPress has effectively improved web design and web development for business owners.

This is a great thing for entrepreneurial-minded people planning to start or build an online business presence that they can manage themselves.

Prior to blogging and the development of powerful and effective CMS applications, if you wanted to build a website built for your business, you had to wait until both the website development and web design processes were fully completed. This could mean waiting around for weeks, even months!

The development of WordPress themes have changed all this. In this blog post, we take a look at what WP themes are, how themes save you money on web development costs, and how themes let you easily customize your site.

A Revolution In Web Design

Website owners have been benefiting from a tremendous change in web design that has been going for a number of years now. If you are a business owner, you may want to know about this, because it can save your business thousands of dollars on web development or website design costs.

In a nutshell, this is how things worked in “traditional” web development before WordPress came along:

First, you would meet with a web developer or designer for a brief. Then, the actual “web design” itself would be decided upon. This involved spending time with someone with website design skills discussing design elements of the site like the layout, colours, formats, graphic elements, content, etc.

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

Themes - An Introduction

(image source:adobe.com)

Only once everything had been tested and functioned the way it was supposed to (and looking the way a client had wanted it to look), was the web site deemed to have been completed and ready for sign off.

Then, website “templates” were developed”. A web template allows the ”look and feel” of the web site to be worked on separately from the page content. Having templates helped make developing websites faster and resulted in reduced production costs. This also allowed web development firms to expand their services to include business clients with less money to spend …

WP Themes - An Overview

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

As more web site development firms started choosing “template-based” websites, templates were introduced that could offer different customizable features, such as color palettes, the ability to select different page layouts and content styles, etc …

As websites and website editing software developed, web templates also started evolving into website template ”systems”, letting website owners control the design components of their web site.

Then, a “blogging” application called WordPress was introduced and helped to start a new digital publishing revolution …

WP 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:

WordPress Themes

A WordPress theme expands website templating systems further.

The WP theme system controls all of the design elements of the web site. It allows you to add a “skin” to your entire site much like a template system does but also provides you with more control over the management and ability to customize the 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 the above quote states, one of the unique features of WordPress is that the way your site displays to site visitors on the outside is an entirely different system from the way your content is managed.

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

Why is this such a big deal?

Because with WordPress, you no longer need to wait until your website’s design is completed. You can get your business website built quickly and get started with any theme you like, and then completely change the look, feel and design of your site in minutes, whenever you choose … and as often as you like!

Even better, you can easily install a theme on your WP site with no web code development knowledge necessary. Simply pick any WP theme you like, upload it to your site and activate it. WordPress lets you change your web design and modify elements like headers, layout, style settings and more with just a couple of mouse clicks …

Understanding Themes

As WordPress is distributed as open source software, web design companies all around the world can create themes specifically for the WordPress platform using the WP template system.

This means that loads of high quality WordPress themes are made available to WordPress users. Themes are generally distributed freely under the terms of the GNU General Public License, or they can be purchased as Premium (i.e. paid) WP themes.

The WordPress team maintains a FREE directory of WordPress themes which gives WordPress users access thousands of excellent themes at $0 cost …

Understanding Themes

(WordPress.org – WP Themes Directory)

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

WordPress themes vary from functional-looking, to designs that are quite beautiful and would normally cost many hundreds of dollars to create. Surprisingly, WordPress themes can be purchased quite cheaply, especially when you compare the price to what you would have had to pay if a website designer had to build it from scratch.

You can view a number of theme galleries containing stunning examples of great premium themes in this post:

Browse Thousands Of FREE WordPress Themes!

(Browse Thousands Of FREE WordPress Themes!)

WordPress Themes – Benefits And Advantages

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

WP Theme Installation Is Easy, Simple & Quick

Themes are really easy to install on your site. Just upload it to your Plugins folder via your WordPress admin user account and activate. Even easier still, you can install any of the themes listed in the themes repository at WordPress.org) directly inside your WP admin’s “Theme” section.

Understanding WordPress Themes


  • WordPress has a thriving online community of commercial website developers and development companies who make thousands of great-looking, high quality WordPress Themes available to WP users. Many of these themes are 100% free to use!
  • Themes give sites a consistent look across all of your site’s elements, like pages, headers, footers, menus, etc …
  • A “theme” works independently of your site’s content. This allows you swap WordPress themes as often as you need without changing your settings.
  • Many themes provide additional functionality and settings that let you easily customize your site’s layout, style and design elements and create a unique look to suit your needs.
  • Many themes are built using a framework that allows you to update themes to newer versions without losing its unique customizations (e.g. styles)
  • WordPress lets you search, upload and install WordPress Themes automatically directly from your dashboard.
  • Themes allow WP users to save thousands of dollars on website design costs. Free WP themes cost nothing and most “Premium”themes are typically quite affordable.

Responsive WP Theme Design

Many theme designers are now developing “responsive” themes.

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

A Newbie's Guide To Understanding WordPress Themes

Responsive themes are also optimized for each device type. Users can navigate, read and load a site on different device platforms without having to resize anything, or requiring the website owner to install additional browser tools.

Note: When purchasing WordPress themes, it’s a good idea to choose a responsive WordPress theme. Not only will a responsive theme ensure that your web site will display correctly on your visitors’ devices, but it also means that the theme is newer than most non-responsive themes and therefore probably complies with the latest standards, practices and techniques of web design coding.

Hopefully, the above article has helped you gain a better understanding of themes, what WP themes are, how WP themes help your business save money on web development costs, and how themes make it easy to customize your website.

In our next blog post in the article WP newbies on understanding basic WP features, we show you where to find the best themes for your website or blog.


"If you're new to WordPress, this can stand on its own as a training course and will stay with you as you progress from beginner to advanced and even guru status." - Bruce (Columbus, Ohio)