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.

Understanding WP ThemesThe development of advanced web publishing applications like the WordPress Content Management System (CMS) has effectively improved web design and web development for web users.

This is great for businesses planning to build a digital presence that they can easily manage themselves.

Before blogging and the development of powerful and effective CMS applications, if you needed to build a web site built for your business, you would have to wait until both the web development and website design processes were fully completed. This process could mean waiting for weeks, sometimes even many months!

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

The Evolution Of Web Design

More businesses have benefited from an evolution in web design that began shortly after websites were first introduced. If you own a business, you will want to learn more about this, because it could save you a lot of time and money on website development and web design costs.

Very briefly, here’s what normally took place before solution like WordPress was developed:

First, you would meet with a web development firm or designer for a brief. Next, the actual “web design” itself had to be decided upon. This meant spending time with someone with web site design skills discussing elements of your site like the layout, colours, formats, visual elements, content, etc.

Each page of your site then had to be hand-coded with the elements and codes inserted into the content. The pages were then assembled together into a web site using links and custom coded navigation menus and uploaded to your server, along with all other files required to make your website work – script libraries, images, media elements, etc.

WordPress Themes - An Overview

(image source:adobe.com)

Only once everything had been tested and was functioning the way it was intended to (and looking how the client had imagined it to look), was the site deemed as being completed and ready to go live.

The next phase in the evolution of website design was the introduction of “web templating elements”. A web template allows design elements of the web site to be created separately from the page content. The introduction of template elements helped to speed up the website development process and resulted in lowered production costs. This also enabled web site designers to service businesses and clients with less money to spend …

WordPress Themes - An Overview

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

As more web site development agencies started adopting “template-based” web design services, web templates started being created that offered clients with a number of custom options, like color palettes, the ability to specify different formats or elements, etc …

As web sites and website building software developed, web templates also started transforming into web template “systems” that let users customize their web site’s design elements.

Then, a “blogging” application called WordPress came along and helped to start a new content management revolution …

WordPress 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 take website template systems even further.

A WordPress theme controls and integrates the design elements of the web site. It allows you to add a “skin” over your site in a similar way that a template system does but it also also gives you complete control over the management and ability to customize template settings.

As the official WordPress site explains …

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 a WordPress theme is that the way your website appears to site visitors externally in no way affects your site’s content management settings.

Basically, what this means is that you can change the look and feel of your website as much and as often as you want without modifying your website’s content and all the functionality you’ve built into it. For example, if you have set up your website for e-commerce, changing the entire look of the site with another theme won’t affect the content or the functionality of the site. All e-commerce features, settings and product information will remain unaffected, but your site will look completely different.

Why is this great news for businesses?

Because when you use WordPress, you no longer have to spend weeks or months waiting for your site to be done. You can get your website built simply and get started with any WordPress theme you want, and modify the entire look, feel and design of your website in mere minutes, whenever you want … and as often as you like!

Even better, you can easily replace any theme on your WP site with no web code programming skills necessary. Simply choose a WP theme you want, install it on your website and activate it. WordPress lets you change your entire site’s web design and modify elements like headers, page layout, styling options and more in a few seconds …

WP Themes - An Overview

Because WordPress is distributed as open source software, website designers from all over the world can design themes specifically for the WordPress CMS platform using the WordPress template system.

This means that thousands of great WordPress themes can be downloaded by WP users. WordPress are usually distributed as Free Software 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 great website templates completely free of charge …

WordPress Themes - An Introduction

(WordPress.org – Themes Directory)

As more businesses turn to WordPress for online publishing, more designers are now starting to develop themes for a wider range of users.

Themes vary from functional-looking, to creative designs that are quite impressive and could typically cost thousands of dollars to commission. Surprisingly, most premium themes are very inexpensive to buy.

You can see a number of WordPress theme galleries that include many examples of great WP themes here:

Browse Thousands Of FREE WordPress Themes!

(Browse Thousands Of FREE WordPress Themes!)

Benefits & Advantages Of WordPress Themes

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

WP Theme Installation Is Easy & Simple

WP themes are very easy to install on your site. Just upload a zip folder containing the plugin to your Plugins folder via your dashboard and activate. Even easier still, you can install any of the themes listed in the free WP theme directory at WordPress.org) directly from within your WP dashboard.

WP Themes - An Overview

Additionally,

  • WordPress has a large community of commercial web designers and design companies who, collectively, make thousands of high quality WordPress Themes available to WordPress users. And many of these themes are completely free to use!
  • Themes give sites a consistent design across all your blog’s elements, i.e. pages, headers, footers, menus, etc …
  • A “theme” works independently of your digital content. This allows you change the “look and feel” of your site as often as you need without affecting the website’s content.
  • Many themes come with built-in functionality and options that allow you to customize your theme’s layout, style and design elements to create a unique look to suit your business.
  • Many themes are built using a framework that allows users to update the theme to a newer theme version without losing any unique customizations (e.g. CSS styles)
  • WordPress lets you search, upload and install WordPress Themes automatically right inside the site’s administration interface.
  • Themes allow users to save thousands of dollars on web development costs. Free WordPress themes cost nothing and most “Premium”WP themes are normally quite affordable.

About Responsive Theme Design

Many theme designers are now creating “responsive” themes.

A responsive theme enables a website to automatically reconfigure the layout to display smoothly across different monitor sizes and screen resolutions, as well as different devices (e.g. PCs, iPads, smart phones, etc.) …

A Basic Guide To Understanding Themes

Responsive themes are also optimized for different platforms. Users can navigate, read and display a site on most if not all devices without having to resize anything, or requiring website owners to install additional browser tools.

Note: When downloading WordPress themes, we strongly recommend choosing a responsive WordPress theme. Not only will the theme ensure that the content and layout of your site displays well across 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 website design and coding.

We hope that this basic overview has given you a clearer understanding of WP themes, what WordPress themes are, how themes help your business save money on website design costs, and how themes make customizing sites easy.

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

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"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)

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