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.

A Newbie's Guide To WordPress ThemesThe development of advanced web site management tools like the WordPress Content Management System (CMS) has effectively simplified web design and web development for anyone wanting to start a website.

This is a great thing for entrepreneurial-minded people wanting to start a website that they can easily manage themselves.

Prior to blogging and the introduction of sophisticated content management systems, if you needed a business website, you would have to wait until both the web development and website design processes were fully completed. This process could mean waiting around for weeks, even months!

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

Revolutionary Website Design

More businesses are benefiting from a 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 you thousands of dollars on website development and website design costs.

Let’s briefly review how things worked in “traditional” website development before CMS tools like WordPress came along:

The first step would be to meet with a website development company or designer for a brief. Next, the design itself had to be discussed and agreed upon. This meant time and money being spent with a professional web designer discussing areas of the web site such as the layout, colors, formats, graphic elements, content, etc.

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

WordPress Themes - An Introduction

(image source:adobe.com)

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

The next step in the evolution of web design was the introduction of “website templates”. Website templates allow design elements of the web site to be worked on separately from content on the page. The development of ready-made templates helped to speed up the web site creation process and resulted in reduced production costs. This also allowed website designers to work with business clients with less money to spend on marketing …

WordPress Themes - An Overview

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

As the number of businesses adopting “template-based” websites increased, templates were developed that provided clients with a range of custom options, like the ability to choose different colors, styles, layouts

As websites and website building tools evolved, website templates also began to evolve into web templating ”systems”, enabling website owners and web designers to manage the design components of their web site.

Then, WordPress was developed and helped to start a new business website revolution …

A Newbie's Guide To Understanding WordPress 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

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

A WordPress theme controls and unifies the design aspects of your website. It lets you add a “skin” to your entire site much like a template system does but it gives you more control over the management, appearance and customization aspects of your template options.

As described 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 above, one of the unique features of the WP theme is that the way your web site appears to visitors in no way affects how your content is managed.

In simple terms, what this means is that WP themes let you change the appearance of your website as much and as often as you like without affecting your site’s content and all the functionality you’ve built into it. For example, if you have set up WP website for e-commerce, replacing the theme won’t affect the content or the functionality of the site. All e-commerce features, site and plugin settings and product information will remain intact, but your site will look completely different.

This is huge! Why?

Because when you use WordPress, you no longer have to spend weeks or months waiting for your website to be done. You can get your business website built simply and get started with any WordPress theme you like, and then completely change the look, feel and design of your site in minutes, whenever you choose … and as many times as you like!

Even better, you can easily replace any theme on your site without needing any website code editing skills. Simply choose any theme you want, install it on your site and activate it. WordPress lets you change your website design and modify elements like headers, layout, typography and more in less than a few minutes …

WordPress Themes - An Introduction

Since WordPress is made available as open source software, web design companies anywhere in the world can design themes specifically for the WordPress platform using the WordPress templating system.

This means that loads of great WordPress themes can be downloaded by WP users. Themes are normally distributed for Free under the terms of the GNU License Definition, or sold as Premium (paid) WP themes.

The WordPress team keeps a FREE theme directory which gives WordPress users access thousands of great themes at no cost …

A Newbie's Guide To Understanding WP Themes

(WordPress.org – Free Theme Directory)

As WordPress becomes more popular, more designers are now starting to develop themes for a wider range of users.

Themes vary from corporate-looking, to designs that are simply stunning and would typically cost thousands of dollars to develop. Surprisingly, most themes are really inexpensive to buy.

You can view several theme galleries containing stunning examples of great premium WordPress themes here:

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 and advantages of choosing WordPress themes over using traditional website design:

Quick Installation

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

Understanding WordPress Themes

Additionally,

  • WordPress has a thriving community of commercial web developers who make thousands of great-looking, high quality WP Themes available to WP users. Thousands of these themes are completely free to use!
  • Themes give sites a unified and consistent “look and feel” across all the blog’s elements, i.e. pages, headers, footers, layouts, etc …
  • A “theme” works independently of your web site’s content. This allows you swap WP themes as often as you like without changing the underlying content.
  • Many WP themes come with additional built-in features and options that allow you to easily customize your site’s style, layout and design elements and create a unique look to suit your taste.
  • Many WP themes are built using a framework that enables users to upgrade themes to newer theme versions without losing its unique customizations (e.g. CSS styles)
  • WordPress lets you search, upload and install WordPress Themes automatically directly from within your dashboard.
  • WordPress themes lets you save thousands of dollars on website design costs. Free WP themes cost nothing and most “Premium”themes are typically quite inexpensive.

About Responsive Themes

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

A responsive theme enables websites to automatically readjust the web layout to display smoothly over different screen sizes and resolutions, as well as across different platforms) …

A Basic Guide To Understanding Themes

A responsive theme is also optimized for each device type. Users can scroll, read and load the site on various device platforms without having to resize anything, or requiring website owners to have installed additional browser tools.

Note: When purchasing WordPress themes, we recommend choosing a responsive WordPress theme. Not only will a responsive theme ensure that your web site displays well across your visitors’ devices, but it also means that the theme is newer than non-responsive themes and therefore should comply with the latest standards and practices of web design and web coding.

I hope that this article has given you a clearer overview of WordPress themes, what themes are, how themes can help your business save money, and how WordPress themes make customizing sites easy.

To learn where to search for great WordPress themes for your website or blog, go here:

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"I am beyond impressed with what you have put together. I can tell that you put a ton of hard work into building what you have. You have the absolute best content on WordPress I have ever seen!" - Robert T. Jillie

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Where To Find The Best WordPress Themes

This tutorial shows you where to find many great free or premium WordPress themes for your online business, e-commerce store, website, or blog.

WordPress

In a previous article, we provide new WordPress users with a comprehensive overview of WordPress Themes.

If you haven’t yet discovered themes and what makes WordPress themes so special, then make sure to check out our article: An Introduction to WordPress Themes

In this article, you will learn where you can browse hundreds of free and paid themes for your WP website or blog. You will also learn about the different types of WordPress theme resources and get tips on how to make sure that you get the right themes for your needs and how to avoid dealing with problems like lack of support and poorly-coded themes.

As we’ve explained in another post, a theme is a special type of web design template used on WordPress-driven blogs and designed specifically on the WP platform.

Many web designers and web development firms create themes for WordPress. Consequently, WordPress users have access to thousands of professional-quality themes designed to cover a wide range of purposes and needs.

Themes are designed to cover many purposes.

Finding Great Responsive Themes For WordPress: Let’s Keep Things Simple!

If you were to go to Google and type key phrases like the following:

  • best free WP themes
  • WordPress themes free
  • best paid WordPress themes for writers (type in whatever your business, area of interest or website is about)

You are probably going to get an overwhelming amount of information to sort through in your search results.

So, to help you save time and make your life easier, we’ll just cut through the clutter and make the process of finding great WP themes really simple.

WordPress.com vs WordPress.org Themes

Before we get started, you should know that WordPress offers both a hosted and a self-hosted version. We’ll cover these differences in another article. To keep things simple, we’ll only cover the topic of finding themes for the self-hosted version of WordPress (WordPress.org) in this post, as these give you more freedom, more options and more control over the design areas of your blog.

Free vs Paid WordPress Themes

Next, it’s important to know that you will find thousands of Free and Paid themes made available. Free themes for WordPress are generally distributed as Open Source Software under the terms of the GNU General Public License, or they can be listed as Premium (paid) themes.

WordPress Theme Marketplaces And Directories Commercial And Independent WordPress Theme Stores

There are two types of places where themes can be found. The first place is in WP theme marketplaces and theme directories. The second place are the commercial and independent WP theme stores.

WordPress theme marketplaces and WordPress theme directories are big aggregators of themes. theme developers (both commercial and independent) list their themes (both free and paid) in the marketplace or directory and buyers find these just like they would if they were shopping for apps on an app store or software directory.

Some of the larger directories don’t just sell WordPress themes. They can also sell WP plugins and templates for other web applications (e.g. Joomla, Drupal, etc.)

Commercial and independent WordPress theme shops typically will create both free and paid themes, and can vary in size, from an individual developer or a small team of developer, to large theme design companies.

Many commercial or independent theme developers sell their themes exclusively on their own web sites, but some will also list their themes in marketplaces and directories, or even create a free or “lite” version of their themes for free WordPress theme directories .

Let’s now show you where to search for great WP themes for your website.

Finding The Best Themes For Your Website Or Blog

WordPress.org

WordPress.org - Theme Repository

(WordPress.org – Themes Directory)

The official WordPress theme directory is the biggest and best place to find free WP themes. In fact, it’s probably the only free WordPress theme directory you should use when looking for free WordPress themes. The reason why, is because –as many free software users have discovered– downloading free software, add-ons, apps, templates or themes from untrustworthy places can contain malicious code and put your computer, digital presence and even your entire business at risk.

The WordPress theme directory is not only a trustworthy and reputable place to download themes for your site, but it also relies on a team of theme reviewers to review and ensure that each theme uploaded to the directory meets their standards of quality and security.

To browse thousands of professionally-designed FREE WordPress themes from the official WordPress Themes Repository, go here:

http://www.wordpress.org/extend/themes

Tip

Find WP Themes Inside Your WordPress Dashboard

Useful Tip: You can easily browse through every WP theme in the WordPress.org directory and not only find what you are looking for, but also easily install and activate it directly from inside your WP dashboard with a few mouse clicks.

Find Free WordPress Themes Without Leaving Your Own WP Dashboard!

Use The WP Theme Feature Filter

WordPress provides a filtering function inside the admin area that lets you narrow down your search for themes based on criteria like Colours, Layout and Features …

Use The Theme Feature Filters

This makes it easy to find themes with specific features. For example, you could search for themes with a orange colour design, with a 4-column layout and a full-width template, or themes that support custom menus, etc.

Note: in another article where we discuss the importance of using “responsive” themes, we explained how responsive themes allow your site to be viewed without problems across all devices (e.g. the computers, tablets and smartphones used by visitors to browse your web content) …

Use The WordPress Theme Feature Filters

It’s a good idea to use responsive themes, and the WordPress theme filtering function lets you search across its entire database of free themes …

Use The Theme Filters

… and bring back only WordPress themes that use “responsive” design standards …

Use The Theme Filters

Pros & Cons Of Using Free WordPress Themes

The obvious “pro” to using free themes is that it’s free to download and use the theme. Additionally, many free themes are professionally designed and come with a number of customizable features, giving you great flexibility and choice in how you configure all of its various layout elements.

The downside of using free WP themes are that your themes may not get updated as often with new features and bug fixes, and it’s unrealistic to expect the developer to provide immediate support, especially if they are not getting paid. Most freely distributed themes will ask you for a donation to help cover their support costs.

When downloading free themes, therefore, check to see when the theme was last updated. If it’s been more than 1 year since any change was made, then it’s best to think carefully about downloading it, as the theme may have been abandoned by its developer.

If you’re just getting started and your website is still quite new, there is nothing wrong with using a free theme until you have a better idea of the kind of site design that would work best for your site before spending any money on premium themes or even on custom theme design. Who knows, the theme you downloaded for free may just be the thing that works for your site and for converting your site visitors into customers.

Now that we’ve seen how to find free WordPress themes in the WordPress.org theme directory and ways to narrow down your search for themes that meet your specific criteria, it’s time to turn our attention to paid WordPress themes.

Premium Themes

If you are looking for themes with stunning web design, or professional quality yet highly affordable WordPress web design themes with a distinctive look, unique customizable options and great support, then search through the WordPress theme galleries of the “Premium” theme design agencies listed below:

WordPress Theme Directories

ThemeForest

ThemeForest

ThemeForest is one of the biggest and most popular WP theme marketplaces online.

ThemeForest lets many professional WordPress theme designers showcase their designs through their online marketplace. There are over 15,000 premium themes listed (some starting from as little as $3) …

ThemeForest - Premium WordPress Themes

(click on the images above to see more themes on ThemeForest)

If you visit the ThemeForest theme marketplace, you will be able to browse for specific themes in various categories, such as:

  • Blog/Magazine – themes for personal blogs and administration sites, etc.
  • Corporate – themes suitable for business sites or marketing purposes.
  • Creative – themes for portfolios, writing professionals, etc.
  • Directory Listings – themes that suit sites about employment opportunities, classifieds, business directories, etc.
  • eCommerce – themes for online shopping, membership sites, etc.
  • Education – themes that suit sites related to tutoring, etc.
  • Entertainment – themes for film & tv blogs, music venues, etc.
  • Mobile – e.g. responsive themes.
  • NonProfit – themes for nonprofit organizations, charities, etc.
  • Real Estate – themes for real estate and real estate listings (e.g. commercial property, etc.)
  • Retail – themes for health products, trades or professionals (repairers, dentists, etc.)
  • Technology – themes related to software, landing pages, etc.
  • Wedding – e.g. themes for wedding sites and marriage consellor blogs
  • Miscellaneous – themes suitable for writing or discussing political issues, green living sites or blogs … even themes you can use if your site is still under-construction!

Useful Tip

When you purchase WordPress themes from ThemeForest, you will receive email notifications when a new update is available for your theme …

ThemeForest emails you theme update notifications

(ThemeForest sends you theme update notifications)

Browse thousands of quality premium themes in the ThemeForest marketplace here:

Creative Market

Creative Market - WP Theme Marketplace

(click on the images above to see more Creative Market themes)

Creative Market is another leading WP theme marketplace where you can search through many quality premium WordPress themes from independent theme creators.

As stated on their website …

“Creative Market is a platform for handcrafted, mousemade design content from independent creatives around the world.”

Creative Market doesn’t just sell WP themes in its directory, but you can easily browse hundreds of themes for WordPress and search through their theme categories (e.g. Magazine or Business themes, etc.) from the site’s dropdown “Themes” menu …

Creative Market WordPress themes marketplace

Browse through hundreds of great premium WP themes crafted by independent WP theme designers in the Creative Market themes marketplace here:

Mojo Themes

Mojo Themes - WP Theme Marketplace

(click on the above images to see more Mojo themes)

Mojo is a directory for premium WP themes where theme vendors are strongly encouraged to provide customers with lifetime support and upgrades.

According to their website …

“Mojo is a marketplace where anyone can find, rate and buy quality themes & templates in one trusted place.”

Like Envato and Creative Market, Mojo doesn’t focus exclusively on WordPress themes, but you can easily go through all of their themes for WordPress and narrow your search with theme categories by selecting the site’s dropdown “WordPress Themes” menu …

Mojo theme marketplace

Visit the site to find quality premium themes in the Mojo directory here:

Now that we have looked at WP theme aggregators, let’s turn our attention to commercial theme developers.

Commercial And Independent WordPress Theme Design Houses

SoloStream

SoloStream provides WordPress users with a great selection of high quality premium WP themes and the option of accessing all themes through a WordPress theme membership.

Solostream Themes

(click on above images to view more SoloStream themes)

Woo Themes

Woo Themes creates functional premium themes for WordPress and offers a membership option that lets you access their entire theme collection.

WooThemes For WP

(click on the above images to browse more themes from WooThemes)

StoreFront

StoreFront Themes creates stunning e-commerce themes for WordPress. StoreFront themes also integrate well with some of the most powerful e-commerce platforms and plugins available.

StoreFront Themes

(click on the images above to browse more StoreFront themes)

StudioPress

StudioPress builds WordPress themes based on a framework that lets you quickly and easily build a professional and search optimized WordPress site, and provides a self-updating design architecture, turn-key site designs with beautiful frames for your content and unprecedented control of the framework.

Many web developers like this framework not only because it’s well-coded and well-supported (the development team at StudioPress keeps the framework regularly up-to-date to reflect best practices for coding and to ensure that themes remain always compatible with the latest WordPress version, but because you can update your themes without losing any customizations you have made to your theme.

This is because themes built with the Genesis framework use something called “child themes,” which are like a paint job that sits on top of the framework and gives your site its unique look and feel.

If this sounds too technical, don’t worry about it. StudioPress themes are easy to work with, just like all other WordPress themes. The great thing about choosing themes from StudioPress is that you pay one low price to receive unlimited support and updates, and you can install your themes on unlimited domains.

For more details, click here: StudioPress.

StudioPress Premium WP Themes

(click on the above images to view all StudioPress themes)

WordPress Theme-Checking Tools

Here are a couple of useful WordPress theme-related tools worth keeping in mind:

What WordPress Theme Is That – WordPress Theme Checker

What WP Theme Is That WordPress Theme Checker

What WordPress Theme Is That is a free web tool that lets you easily detect what WP theme a website or blog uses.

This is a great resource if you have come across a WordPress site that you like and would like to know what WP theme is being used on the site.

Tip

Tip: If you don’t know if a site runs on WordPress or not, go here for a great tutorial that shows you how to tell whether or not a site uses the WordPress CMS platform: Is Your Site Powered By WordPress?

Using this tool is very simple. Just enter the site’s domain name into the field and click the search icon or hit “Enter.” The tool will then not only confirm if the site is built on the WordPress CMS platform, but it will also list the WordPress theme being used and list any WordPress plugins it detects.

Theme Authenticity Checker (TAC)

Warning

A word of warning: When choosing FREE themes for your WordPress site, we recommend sticking with the themes listed in the official WordPress theme directory.

A well-known method used by many hackers and syndicates that engage in cyber criminal activities is to put up sites and directories offering “Free” themes for WordPress all over the web and then distribute themes containing malicious code. In fact, some of these sites even display on search engine results for key phrases like “free WordPress themes“, “best free themes for WordPress”” etc. It’s best, therefore, to stick with the official WordPress.org directory, or use established and reputable sites.

If you are in doubt about whether a WordPress theme installed on your blog may contain potentially malicious or unwanted code, you can use a free WordPress plugin like Theme Authenticity Checker (TAC) to scan your WordPress theme files. This plugin scans the source files of every installed theme on your site for signs of suspicious code and then presents you with a report as shown in the screenshot below …

Theme Authenticity Checker (TAC)

(Theme Authenticity Checker Report Page – Screenshot Source: Plugin Site, WordPress.org)

We hope that you have found the information on how to find the best free and premium responsive themes for WordPress useful.

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