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 Themes - An OverviewAdvanced web management tools like the WordPress Content Management System (CMS) have truly simplified web design and web development for website owners.

This is great for non-technical users planning to start a website that is relatively easy to manage.

Prior to “blogging” and the introduction of sophisticated CMS technologies, if you wanted to build a site built for your business, you had to wait until both the web development and web design processes were fully completed. This process could take weeks, sometimes even months!

WordPress themes have changed all this. In this article, you will learn what themes are, how themes can help you and your business save money on website development costs, and how themes make it easy to customize your WP site.

Revolutionary Website Design

More website owners today will benefit from a change in web design that started several years ago. If you own a small business, you may want to know more about this, because it could save your business thousands of dollars on web development or web design costs.

Let’s briefly review what used to happen before solutions like WordPress were developed:

The first step would be to meet with a web development company or web designer for a brief. After that, the “web design” itself would be discussed and agreed upon. This meant spending time and money with someone with web design skills going over elements of your site such as the, colors, styles, graphic elements, content, etc.

Every page of your web site then had to be hand-coded with all of the elements and codes written into your content. All of the pages were then assembled together into a web site using links 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.

A Basic Guide To WordPress Themes

(image source:adobe.com)

Only once everything passed testing and performed the way it was supposed to (and looking how a client had imagined it to look), was the website deemed to have been completed and ready to go live.

Then, website “templates” came along”. A web template allows presentation elements of the web site to be created separately from content on the page. The introduction of templates helped to make the process of building web sites faster and resulted in reduced costs of production. This also enabled web site development companies to expand their services to include business clients and clients with less money to spend …

WordPress Themes - An Overview

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

As more small businesses started choosing “template-based” websites, web templates were designed that offered various customization features and options, like colour palettes, the ability to pick different formats or layouts, etc …

As web sites and website editing tools evolved, website templates also began to transform into website templating “systems” that let users control the visual aspects of their website.

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

A Basic Guide To 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 pushes website template systems much further.

A WordPress theme controls all of the design elements of a website. It allows you to add a “skin” over your entire site much like a website template system does but it also also provides you with complete control over the management and ability to customize template settings.

As the official WordPress site states …

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 in the quote above, one of the unique features of the WordPress theme is that how your site displays to visitors does not affect the management of your content.

In simple terms, what this means is that you can change the design of your website as much and as often as you want without touching your site’s content and all the functionality you’ve built into it. For example, if you have set up your site for e-commerce, changing the entire look of your site with a different 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.

This is important. Why?

Because when your website is built with WordPress, you no longer need to wait until your website’s design is completed. You can get your website built quickly and start with any theme you like, and then modify the entire look, feel and design of your WordPress site in a few seconds, whenever you decide … and as many times as you like!

Even better, you can easily replace any theme on your site with no website code programming skills necessary. Just pick any theme you like, upload it to your website and activate it. WordPress lets you change your entire site’s web design and modify elements like headers, layout, typography and more with just a few mouse clicks …

WordPress Themes - An Overview

Because WordPress is distributed as open source software, hundreds of website 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 WP themes are made available to WP users. Themes are generally distributed as Free Software under the terms of the GNU General Public License Definition, or sold as Premium (paid) themes.

The WordPress development team keeps a FREE theme directory which allows WordPress users to access thousands of great themes at $0 cost …

A Newbie's Guide To WP Themes

(WordPress.org – Theme Directory)

As the popularity of WordPress soars, more designers are now focusing on creating themes for a wider range of users.

WordPress themes vary from bare-looking, to jaw-dropping designs that are visually stunning and would typically cost hundreds to thousands of dollars to commission. Surprisingly, most themes are fairly inexpensive.

You can see a number of theme galleries containing stunning examples of great WP themes here:

Browse Thousands Of FREE WordPress Themes!

(Browse Thousands Of FREE WordPress Themes!)

WP Themes – Benefits And Advantages

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

Be Up And Running In Very Little Time

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

A Basic Guide To Understanding WordPress Themes


  • WordPress has a growing community of commercial website developers and development companies who, collectively, contribute thousands of great-looking, high quality WP Themes available to WordPress users. Thousands of these themes are 100% free to use!
  • Themes give sites a unified and consistent “look and feel” across all of the blog’s elements, like pages, headers, footers, menus, etc …
  • A “theme” works independently of your website’s content. This makes it possible to change the “look and feel” of your templates as often as you want without deleting your content.
  • Many themes provide additional functionality and settings that allow you to customize your site’s layout and design elements to create a unique look to suit your needs.
  • Many themes are built using a framework that enables you to upgrade themes to newer versions without losing any customizations (e.g. CSS styles)
  • WordPress lets you search, import and install WordPress Themes automatically within the site’s administration interface.
  • Themes allow users to save hundreds, even thousands of dollars on web design costs. Free themes cost nothing and most “Premium”themes are typically very inexpensive.

Responsive WordPress Theme Design

Many theme designers are now creating “responsive” themes for the WordPress platform.

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

Understanding Themes

A responsive theme is also optimized for different platforms. Users can scroll, read and load the site on all devices without having to resize anything, or requiring the website owner to have installed additional display elements.

Note: When downloading WordPress themes, we strongly recommend choosing a responsive WordPress theme. Not only will a responsive theme ensure that the content and layout of your site displays well across all devices, it also means that the theme is newer than most non-responsive themes and therefore probably complies with the latest standards and practices of website design and web coding.

We hope this overview has given you a better understanding about WP themes, what themes are, how they help you save money, and how WordPress themes let you easily customize your WP site.

In the next blog post on helping you understand WP features, we show you where to search for great themes for your website or blog.


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