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 ThemesThe development of web site publishing applications like the WordPress CMS platform has effectively improved web design and web development for business users.

This is great news for business owners thinking about running an online presence that is easy to manage.

Prior to blogging and the introduction of powerful content management systems, if you needed to get a professional web site built for your business, you normally would have to wait until both the web development and web design processes were completely done. This process could mean weeks, sometimes even months of waiting around!

The development of WordPress themes helped change all this. In this post, we take a look at what themes are, how themes can help you and your business save money on web development costs, and how WordPress themes let you easily customize your website.

Website Design Evolution

Businesses will benefit from a tremendous revolution in website design that has been going for many years now. If you own a small business, you may want to learn more about this, because it could save you thousands of dollars on web development or web design costs.

Let’s briefly go over how things typically worked in “traditional” website design before CMS systems like WordPress were developed:

The first step would be to discuss your requirements with a website development agency or designer. Then, the “web design” itself had to be decided upon. This meant time and money being spent with someone with web design skills discussing elements of the website such as the layout, colors, formats, visual elements, content, etc.

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

Understanding WP Themes

(image source:adobe.com)

Only once everything passed testing and functioned the way it was supposed to (and looking how the client had imagined it to look), was the website considered to be finished and ready to go live.

The next stage in the evolution of business web design was the introduction of “website templates”. Web site templates allow the ”look and feel” of the website to be created separately from the page content. Having template elements helped make the process of website creation faster and resulted in lowered costs of production. This also enabled web development agencies to service smaller businesses with smaller marketing budgets …

Themes - An Introduction

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

As the number of businesses using “template-based” web design services increased, web templates were created to offer expanding customization options, like the option to switch colours, styles, layouts

As websites and web editor software evolved, website templates also started to transform into website template ”systems”, which permitted users and website developers to manage their website’s design aspects.

And then, WordPress was introduced and helped to start a new web revolution …

Understanding WordPress 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 improve website templating systems even further.

The WordPress theme system controls every aspect of your site’s design. It allows you to add a “skin” to your site much like a website template system does but also gives you more control over the management, appearance and customization of all template options.

As WordPress has explained in its official web 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, a unique and revolutionary feature of WordPress is that how your website appears to visitors is kept independent of the way your website is configured in the backend to handle areas like content management and functionality.

Basically, what this means is that you can change the design 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 website. All e-commerce features, plugin settings and product information will remain intact, but your site will look completely different.

This is important. Why?

Because with WordPress, you no longer need to spend weeks or months waiting for your web design to be completed. You can get your business website built simply and get started with any theme you want, and customize the entire look, feel and design of your site in a few minutes, whenever you choose … and as often as you like!

Even better, you can easily replace any theme on your WordPress site without the need of website code programming knowledge. Simply choose any theme you want, upload it to your website and activate it. WordPress lets you change your entire site’s web design and customize elements like header images, page layout, styling options and more with just a few mouse clicks …

Understanding Themes

Since WordPress is made available as open source software, professional web designers from all over the world can design themes specifically for the WordPress platform using the WordPress template system.

This means that thousands of great WP themes are made available to WordPress users. WP are generally distributed freely under the terms of the GNU General Public License, or sold as Premium (i.e. paid) WP themes.

The WordPress development team keeps a FREE WordPress Theme Directory which gives WordPress users access thousands of great website templates at $0 cost …

WP Themes - An Introduction

(WordPress.org – WP Themes Directory)

As WordPress becomes more popular, more designers are now starting to develop themes for a wider range of applications.

WordPress themes range from professional-looking, to designs that are quite beautiful and would easily cost many hundreds of dollars to develop. Surprisingly, WP themes can be bought fairly inexpensively, especially when you compare the price to what you would have been charged if a web designer had to develop it from scratch.

You can view several theme galleries that include stunning examples of great themes here:

Browse Thousands Of FREE WordPress Themes!

(Browse Thousands Of FREE WordPress Themes!)

Benefits Of Themes

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

Ready To Use In Minutes

WP themes are quite easy to install on your site. Simply upload it to your Plugin folder via your WP admin user account and activate. Even easier still, you can install any of the themes listed in the WordPress theme repository at WordPress.org) directly from within your WordPress admin’s “Theme” section.

WP Themes - An Overview

Additionally …

  • WordPress has a growing community of professional website designers and design companies who contribute thousands of professional WP Themes available to WordPress users. Many of these themes are 100% free to use!
  • Themes give sites a consistent “look and feel” across all of your blog’s elements, like pages, headers, footers, layouts, etc …
  • A “theme” works independently of your website’s content. This means you can change the “look and feel” of your web site or blog as often as you want without changing the website’s data.
  • Many themes come with built-in functionality and options that let you easily customize the theme’s layout, style and design properties and create a unique look to suit your preferences.
  • Many WP themes are built using a framework that enables you to update themes to a newer theme version without losing its unique customizations (e.g. styles)
  • WordPress allows you to search, upload, install and update WordPress Themes automatically inside your site’s administration interface.
  • WordPress themes helps you save hundreds of dollars on web development costs. Free WP themes cost nothing and most “Premium”themes are normally very affordable.

About Responsive WP Theme Design

Many WordPress theme designers are now creating themes that incorporate “responsive” design.

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

Understanding WP Themes

Responsive themes are also optimized for different platforms. Users can scroll, read and display your site on most devices without having to resize anything, or requiring website owners to install additional browser elements.

Note: When searching for WordPress themes, we recommend choosing a responsive WordPress theme. Not only will the theme ensure that your website works across 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 website design.

Hopefully, this article has provided you with a clearer understanding of WP themes, what themes are, how WordPress themes can help you and your business save money on website development costs, and how themes make it easy to customize a site.

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

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"This is AMAZING! I had learnt about how to use WordPress previously, but this covers absolutely everything and more!! Incredible value! Thank you!" - Monique, Warrior Forum

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Originally published as WordPress Themes Explained.