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.

For a white label version of this tutorial visit WPTrainingManual.com.

Understanding WP ThemesAdvanced web management tools like WordPress have truly simplified web design and web development for business owners.

This is fantastic news for individuals or businesses planning on getting a website that is relatively simple and easy to manage.

Before “blogging” and the introduction of easy-to-use CMS tools, if you needed to get a professional site for your business, you typically would have to wait until both the web development and website design processes were completely done. This could mean weeks, even sometimes months of waiting around!

The introduction of WordPress themes changed all this. In this article, you will learn what themes are, how they save you money on website design costs, and how themes let you easily customize your website.

Web Design Evolution

More businesses have been benefiting from a great change in website design that began shortly after websites were first introduced. If you own a small business, you may want to know about this, because it can save you a lot of time and money on website development or web design costs.

Very briefly, this is how things used to work in “traditional” website design before applications like WordPress were developed:

The first step would be to meet with a web development company or web designer for a brief. Next, the “web design” itself had to be discussed and agreed upon. This involved time being spent with someone with web site design skills going over design elements of the site like the, colours, styles, page elements, content, etc.

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

Themes - An Introduction

(image source:adobe.com)

Only once everything had been tested and worked how it should (and looking the way a client had imagined it to look), was the web site considered to have been completed and ready to go live.

The next phase in the evolution of website design was the introduction of “website templating elements”. A web template allows ”look and feel” elements of the website to be worked on separately from content on the page. Having templates helped speed up the web creation process and resulted in reduced costs of production. This also enabled web designers to service smaller business clients and clients with less money to spend on marketing …

A Newbie's Guide To Understanding WordPress Themes

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

As the number of businesses choosing “template-based” websites increased, templates started being designed to provide clients with various customizable features, like the option to choose different colors, styles, layouts

As websites and website editor tools evolved, website templates also started to transform into website templating ”systems”, which permitted users and website designers to control the design aspects of a web site.

Then, a “blogging” software called WordPress came along and helped to kick off a new online publishing revolution …

A Newbie's 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:

WordPress Themes

WordPress themes expand web templating systems much further.

The WordPress theme system controls the design elements of the website. It allows you to add a “skin” over your entire site much like a website template system does but it provides users with complete control over the management, appearance and customization of your template settings.

As per 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 in the quote above, one of the unique features of the WordPress theme is that the way your website displays to visitors does not affect your site’s functional aspects (e.g. content management and functionality).

In plain English terms, what this means is that a WordPress theme lets you modify the appearance of your site as much and as often as you want without affecting your website’s content and all the functionality you’ve built into it. For example, if you have configured WordPress site for e-commerce, changing the entire look of your site with another theme won’t affect the content or the functionality of your web site. All e-commerce features, 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 completed. You can get your website built simply and get started with any WordPress theme you like, and customize the entire look, feel and design of your site in a few minutes, whenever you decide … and as many times as you like!

Even better, you can easily replace any theme on your WordPress site without needing web code editing skills. Simply pick any theme you like, upload it to your site and activate it. WordPress allows you to change your site’s design and customize elements like header images, page layout, styling options and more in minutes …

A Newbie's Guide To Understanding WP Themes

As WordPress is made available as open source software, thousands of web designers from all over the world can create themes specifically for the WordPress platform using the WordPress templating system.

This means that thousands of high quality WordPress themes can be downloaded by WP users. WordPress are generally distributed for Free under the terms of the GNU General Public License Definition, or they can be purchased as Premium (i.e. paid) themes.

The WordPress team keeps a FREE directory of WP themes which allows WordPress users to download, access and install thousands of great web templates completely free of charge …

Understanding WP Themes

(WordPress.org – WordPress Theme Directory)

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

Themes range from professional-looking, to designs that are simply breathtaking and would normally cost many hundreds of dollars to commission. Surprisingly, most premium WP themes are very inexpensive.

You can view several WordPress theme galleries that include many examples of WordPress themes in this article:

Browse Thousands Of FREE WordPress Themes!

(Browse Thousands Of FREE WordPress Themes!)

Themes – Benefits & Advantages

Here are just some of the many benefits of using WordPress themes over using tools that require traditional web template design:

Be Up And Running In No Time

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

Themes - An Overview

Additionally …

  • WordPress has a growing online community of commercial theme developers and development companies who contribute thousands of high quality WordPress Themes available to users. Thousands of these themes are 100% free to use!
  • Themes give sites a unified and consistent design across all the blog’s elements, i.e. pages, headers, footers, layout, etc …
  • A “theme” works independently of your site’s content. This allows you swap WP themes as often as you want without modifying the website’s settings.
  • Many themes provide built-in functionality and options that let you easily customize your site’s style and design elements and create a unique look to suit your taste.
  • Many themes are built using a framework that lets you upgrade the theme to newer theme versions without losing its unique customizations (e.g. CSS styles)
  • WordPress allows you to search, import, install and update WordPress Themes automatically inside the dashboard.
  • WordPress themes helps you save hundreds, even thousands of dollars on website development costs. Free themes cost nothing and most “Premium”themes are normally quite inexpensive.

About Responsive WP Themes

Many WP theme developers are now developing “responsive” themes for WordPress.

A responsive theme allows a website to automatically readjust screen size to display smoothly over different screen sizes and resolutions, as well as across different devices (e.g. computers, tablets, mobile phones, etc.) …

WP Themes - An Introduction

Responsive themes are also optimized for each device type. Users can navigate, read and load a site on most device browsers without having to readjust their browser settings, or requiring the website owner to have installed additional themes.

Note: When purchasing WordPress themes, we strongly recommend choosing a responsive WordPress theme. Not only will the theme ensure that your website will display correctly on all devices, but it also means that the theme is newer than most non-responsive themes and therefore should comply with the latest standards and practices of web design coding.

Hopefully, this basic overview has helped you gain a clearer understanding about themes, what WordPress themes are, how WP themes can help you and your business save money, and how WordPress themes let you easily customize your website.

To learn where to find the best WordPress themes for your website, go here:


"Wow! I never knew there's so much to learn about WordPress! I bought one of the WordPress for Dummies three years ago, such authors need to be on this course!" - Rich Law, Create A Blog Now


For a white label version of this tutorial visit WPTrainingManual.com.
Originally published as WordPress Themes Explained.