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.

WP For Beginners - An Introduction To ThemesThe introduction of advanced content publishing platforms like the WordPress CMS has truly simplified web design and web development for users.

This is a great thing for non-technical users thinking about building a website that is relatively simple, easy and inexpensive to manage.

Before “blogging” and the development of powerful CMS technologies, if you needed a professional site, you typically had to wait until both the website development and website design processes were completely done. This process could take weeks, sometimes even months!

The development of WordPress themes have changed all this. In this blog post, you will learn what WP themes are, how themes can help you save money on website development costs, and how themes allow you to easily customize your site.

Web Design Evolution

Businesses are benefiting from a great change in website design that began shortly after websites were first introduced. If you own a business, you will want to learn more about this, because it can save you a lot of time and money on web development and website design costs.

Let’s go over what used to happen before a CMS application like WordPress was developed:

The first step would be to discuss your requirements with a website developer or website designer. After that, the actual “web design” would be discussed and agreed upon. This involved time and money being spent with someone with web site design skills discussing design elements of your web site such as the, colors, formats, visual elements, content, etc.

Every page of your web site then had to be individually created with all of the elements and codes scripted into your page content. The pages were then assembled 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, images, media elements, etc.

WordPress Themes - An Introduction

(image source:adobe.com)

Only after everything passed testing and was performing how it was supposed to (and looking the way a client had wanted it to look), was the site considered to be finished and ready for sign off.

Then, website “templates” came along”. Website templates allow presentation elements of the website to be worked on separately from the page content. Having ready-made templates helped speed up the process of developing web sites and resulted in lowered costs of production. This also allowed web designers to expand their services to include smaller business clients and clients with smaller marketing budgets …

Themes - An Overview

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

As more businesses started adopting “template-based” websites, templates started being designed that provided expanding customization options, such as colour palettes, the ability to pick different content styles, formats, header, footer and navigation elements, layouts, etc …

As web sites and website building tools evolved, website templates also started evolving into website template ”systems”, letting website owners control the design components of a site.

And then, a “blogging” software called WordPress was introduced and helped to start a new web revolution …

Themes - An Overview

(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 web template systems further.

The WordPress theme system controls every aspect of your website design. It allows you to add a “skin” over your entire site much like a template system does but it also also provides you with more control over the management, presentation and customization aspects of template features.

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 stated above, a unique feature of WordPress is that how your website displays to site visitors externally does not affect how your content is managed.

Basically, what this means is that a theme lets you change the appearance of your site as often as you want without touching your site’s content and all the functionality you’ve built into it. For example, if WordPress website has been configured for e-commerce, replacing the theme won’t affect the content or the functionality of your site. All e-commerce features, site and plugin settings and product information will remain unaffected, but your site will look completely different.

This is important. Why?

Because with WordPress, you no longer need to wait until your website’s design is done. You can get your website built quickly and start with any WordPress theme you like, and then customize the entire look, feel and design of your WordPress site in minutes, whenever you want … and as many times as you like!

Even better, you can easily replace any theme on your site without requiring any web coding skills. Simply choose a WordPress theme you want, install it on your site 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 …

Understanding Themes

As WordPress is distributed as open source software, professional website designers anywhere in the world can design themes specifically for the WP CMS platform using the WordPress template system.

This means that loads of high quality WP themes are made available to WordPress users. WordPress are normally distributed for FREE under the terms of the GNU General Public License, or sold as Premium (paid) WordPress themes.

The WordPress development team keeps a FREE WordPress Theme Directory which allows WordPress users to download, access and install thousands of great themes completely free of charge …

A Basic Guide To Themes

(WordPress.org – Theme Directory)

As the popularity of WordPress soars, more designers are now focused on developing themes for a wider audience of WordPress users.

Themes vary from corporate-looking, to elegant designs that are simply stunning and could easily cost thousands of dollars to design. Surprisingly, most themes can be bought quite cheaply, especially when compared to what it would have cost you if a web designer had to build it from scratch.

You can see a number of theme galleries that include stunning examples of great WP themes in this article:

Browse Thousands Of FREE WordPress Themes!

(Browse Thousands Of FREE WordPress Themes!)

Benefits Of Using Themes

Here are just some of the many benefits and advantages of using WordPress themes over choosing applications that require traditional web design:

Ready To Use In Minutes

WordPress themes are really easy to install on your site. Simply upload a zip file that contains the plugin to your Plugins folder via your WordPress admin area and activate. Even easier still, you can install any of the themes listed in the themes repository at WordPress.org) directly from within your WP dashboard.

Understanding Themes

Additionally …

  • WordPress has a growing community of professional website designers who, collectively, make thousands of high quality WordPress Themes available to WP users. Thousands of these themes are completely free to use!
  • Themes give sites a consistent design across all of the site’s elements, like pages, headers, footers, menus, etc …
  • A “theme” works independently of your web site’s content. This allows you change themes as often as you like without disturbing the site content.
  • Many themes provide additional functionality and options that enable you to customize your theme’s style and design properties and create a unique look to suit your taste.
  • Many themes are built using a framework that lets you update the theme to newer theme versions without losing any unique customizations (e.g. CSS styles)
  • WordPress lets you search, import, install and update WordPress Themes automatically right within the site’s administration interface.
  • WordPress themes helps you save thousands of dollars on web development costs. Free themes cost nothing and most “Premium”themes are typically very inexpensive.

Responsive Themes

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

A responsive theme enables websites to automatically resize to display smoothly across different monitor sizes and screen resolutions, as well as across different platforms) …

WP Themes - An Overview

Responsive themes are also optimized for different platforms. Users can scroll, read and display your site on most if not all device platforms without having to resize anything, or requiring the website owner to have installed additional display elements.

Note: When selecting, 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 work correctly across your visitors’ devices, it also means that the theme is newer than most non-responsive themes and therefore should comply with the latest standards of web design coding.

We hope that this article has helped you gain a clearer understanding of WordPress themes, what themes are, how themes help you and your business save money on website design costs, and how themes make it easy to customize your website.

In the next article on helping you understand features and functionality of WordPress, we show you where to find the best WordPress themes for your website or blog.

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