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 IntroductionPowerful web management systems like the WordPress CMS have effectively improved web design and web development for non-technical users.

This is great for individuals or businesses thinking of starting a website that is relatively easy to manage.

Prior to blogging and the development of user-friendly CMS applications, if you wanted to build a professional website built for your business, you normally would have to wait until both the web development and web design processes were completely done. This could take weeks, sometimes even many months!

The introduction of WordPress themes have changed all this. In this post, we explain what WordPress themes are, how they save your business money on web design costs, and how WP themes help you easily customize your website.

A Revolution In Web Design

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

Very briefly, this is what typically took place before CMS applications like WordPress came along:

First, you would meet with a website development firm or web designer for a brief. After that, the “web design” itself would be decided upon. This meant time and money being spent with a professional website designer discussing elements of the site such as the, colors, styles, visual elements, content, etc.

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

Themes - An Introduction

(image source:adobe.com)

Only after everything passed testing and performed how it was intended to (and looking the way a client had wanted it to look), was the website considered to have been completed and ready for sign off.

The next phase in the evolution of website design was the introduction of “website templating elements”. Web site templates allow the design of the website to be created separately from the page content. Having ready-made templates helped make site creation faster and resulted in reduced production costs. This also enabled web development firms to work with small business clients and clients with smaller marketing budgets …

Themes - An Introduction

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

As more businesses started using “template-based” websites, templates started being created that offered clients with a number of customization settings, such as color palettes, the ability to select different page layouts or styles, and so on.

As web sites and web building software evolved, website templates also started to transform into website templating “systems” that allowed users and web designers to customize the visual elements of their web site.

Then, a “blogging” software called WordPress came along and helped to start a new business website revolution …

Understanding WP 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

WordPress themes push website templating systems even further.

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

According to 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 states, a unique and revolutionary feature of WordPress is that how your web site displays to visitors on the outside in no way affects your site’s content management settings.

In simple terms, what this means is that WordPress themes let you modify the appearance of your website as much and as often as you want without touching your site’s content and all the work you’ve put into it. For example, if your site has been set up for e-commerce, changing the entire look of your site with a different theme won’t affect the content or the functionality of your site. All e-commerce features, site settings and product information will remain unaffected, but your site will look completely different.

This is important. Why?

Because when your site is powered by WordPress, you no longer have to spend weeks or months waiting for your site to be completed. You can get your website built quickly and start with any WP theme you like, and then modify the entire look, feel and design of your site in minutes, whenever you decide … and as many times as you like!

Even better, you can easily replace any theme on your WordPress site without having website code programming knowledge. Simply pick any theme you want, install it on your website and activate it. WordPress allows you to change your website design and modify elements like headers, layout, styling options and more in less than a few minutes …

Themes - An Introduction

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

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

The WordPress development team maintains a FREE theme directory which allows WordPress users to download, access and install thousands of excellent WP themes at $0 cost …

A Basic Guide To Understanding WP Themes

(WordPress.org – WP Themes Directory)

As WordPress becomes more popular, more designers are now focusing on developing themes for a wider range of applications.

Themes range from bare-looking, to dynamic designs that are visually spectacular and could typically cost hundreds to many thousands of dollars to commission. Surprisingly, themes are quite inexpensive to purchase.

You can view a number of WordPress theme galleries that include many examples of themes here:

Browse Thousands Of FREE WordPress Themes!

(Browse Thousands Of FREE WordPress Themes!)

Themes – Benefits

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

Ready To Start Using In Very Little Time

Themes are really easy to install on your site. Simply upload the plugin file to your Plugin folder via your admin user login and activate. Even easier still, you can install any of the themes listed in the theme repository at WordPress.org) directly inside your WordPress admin’s “Theme” section.

Understanding WP Themes


  • WordPress has a large community of professional web designers and design companies who, collectively, make thousands of high quality WP Themes available to users. And many of these themes are completely free to use!
  • Themes give sites a unified and consistent look across all of your blog’s elements, i.e. pages, headers, footers, layout, etc …
  • A “theme” works independently of your site’s content. This means you can replace the “look and feel” of your website as often as you want without changing your content.
  • Many themes come with additional features and settings that let you easily customize the theme’s style and design properties and create a unique look to suit your taste.
  • Many WordPress themes are built using a framework that lets you upgrade 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 site’s administration interface.
  • WP themes lets you save hundreds of dollars on website development costs. Free themes cost nothing and most “Premium”WordPress themes are typically quite affordable.

About Responsive WordPress Themes

Many WordPress theme developers are now developing themes that incorporate “responsive” design standards.

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 devices (e.g. PCs, tablets, smart phones, etc.) …

A Basic Guide To Understanding WordPress Themes

Responsive themes are also optimized for different platforms. Users can navigate, read and display your site on different device browsers without having to resize anything, or requiring the website owner to have installed additional browser elements.

Note: When searching for WordPress themes, it’s a good idea to choose a responsive WordPress theme. Not only will the theme ensure that the content and layout of your site will display correctly on 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 web design and web coding.

We hope that this overview has given you a better understanding of themes, what WP themes are, how they help your business save money on web design costs, and how WP themes make it easy to customize your website.

In the next blog post on understanding basic features and functionality of WordPress, we show you where to find great themes for your website.


"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)