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.

Themes - An IntroductionThe development of web site publishing technologies like the WordPress CMS has effectively improved web design and web development for website owners.

This is great for business owners planning to start or build a website that they can manage by themselves.

Before blogging and the introduction of easy-to-use content management systems, if you wanted to build a website for your business, you normally had to wait until both the website development and web design processes were completely done. This process could take weeks, sometimes even months!

WordPress themes helped change all this. In this blog post, you will learn what WordPress themes are, how themes save you and your business money on website development costs, and how themes make it easy to customize your site.

A Revolution In Website Design

More website owners will benefit from a change in web design that has been going for several years now. 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 web development and website design costs.

Very briefly, here’s how things typically worked in “traditional” web development before applications like WordPress came along:

First, you would discuss your requirements with a web developer or web designer. Then, the design of your site itself had to be decided upon. This required spending time and money with someone with website design skills going over elements of your web site such as the, colors, styles, visual elements, content, etc.

Every page of your website then had to be hand-coded with the elements and codes written into the page content. All of the pages were then assembled into a web site using hyperlinks and custom coded navigation menus and uploaded to your server, along with every other file required to make your site work – script libraries, graphic images, media, etc.

Understanding Themes

(image source:adobe.com)

Only once everything had been tested and was working how it was intended to (and looking the way a client had imagined it to look), was the web site deemed to have been finished and ready to go live.

The next phase in the evolution of business website design was the introduction of “website templating elements”. Web templates allow design elements of the web site to be worked on separately from content on the page. Having templates helped make the process of developing websites faster and resulted in lowered production costs. This also enabled web site development firms to expand their services to include business clients and clients with less money to spend on marketing …

Understanding WordPress Themes

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

As more small businesses began using “template-based” websites, web templates were created to provide clients with different custom settings, such as the ability to switch colors, styles, layouts

As websites and web editor applications evolved, website templates also started transforming into web templating “systems” that let users control their web site’s design elements.

Then, WordPress came along and helped to start a new online publishing revolution …

A Newbie's Guide To 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:

About WordPress Themes

A WordPress theme takes website template systems much further.

The WordPress theme system controls and unifies the design aspects of your website. It lets you add a “skin” over your entire site much like a website template system does but also gives you more control over the management, appearance and customization of template options.

As WordPress puts it …

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 web site displays to visitors does not affect the way your content is managed.

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

Why is this such great for business owners?

Because when your website is powered by WordPress, you no longer have to wait until your site’s web design is completed. You can get your business website built simply and start with any WP theme you want, and then change the entire look, feel and design of your WordPress site in mere minutes, whenever you choose … and as often as you like!

Even better, you can easily install a theme on your site with no website code programming knowledge required. Just choose a WP theme you want, install it on your site and activate it. WordPress lets you change your site’s design and customize elements like header images, layout, styling options and more with just a couple of mouse clicks …

A Newbie's Guide To WP Themes

Because WordPress is made available as open source software, website design companies all around the world can create 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 WP users. WordPress are usually distributed for Free under the terms of the GNU General Public License, or sold as Premium (i.e. paid) themes.

The WordPress development team keeps a FREE WordPress Theme Directory which allows WordPress users to access thousands of great web templates at no cost …

A Newbie's Guide To Understanding WP Themes

(WordPress.org – Theme Directory)

As the popularity of WordPress soars, more designers are now focusing on developing themes for a wider audience of WordPress site owners.

Themes vary from minimal-looking, to artsy designs that are quite stunning and would easily cost thousands of dollars to create. Surprisingly, WP themes can be purchased fairly cheaply, especially when compared to what it would have cost you if a website designer had to code it from scratch.

You can view several WP theme galleries containing stunning examples of great WordPress themes in this post:

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 of choosing WordPress themes over choosing website development tools that require traditional website design:

Be Up And Running In Minutes

Themes are quite easy to install on your site. Simply upload a zip file that contains the plugin files to your Plugins folder via your WP admin account and activate. Even easier still, you can install any of the themes listed in the free theme repository at WordPress.org) directly from your WP admin’s “Theme” section.

Understanding Themes

Additionally …

  • WordPress has a large online community of professional theme designers and design companies who contribute thousands of professional WP Themes available to users. And many of these themes are 100% free to use!
  • Themes give sites a unified and consistent look across all of your blog’s elements, i.e. pages, headers, footers, menus, layout, etc …
  • A “theme” works independently of your web site’s content. This makes it possible to change WordPress themes as often as you want without modifying the content.
  • Many WP themes provide additional built-in features and options that allow you to customize the site’s style and design elements to create a unique look to suit your needs.
  • Many WordPress themes are built using a framework that enables users to upgrade 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 dashboard.
  • Themes lets you save hundreds, even thousands of dollars on website development costs. Free WP themes cost nothing and most “Premium”WP themes are normally quite affordable.

About Responsive Themes

Many WP theme designers are now developing “responsive” themes for the WordPress CMS.

A responsive theme enables websites to automatically readjust screen size to display smoothly across different screen sizes and resolutions, as well as across different devices (e.g. PCs, tablets, cell phones, etc.) …

Themes - An Overview

Responsive themes are also optimized for each platform. Users can navigate, read and display the site on most if not all devices without having to readjust their browser settings, or requiring the website owner to install additional browser elements.

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

We hope the above overview has given you a clearer understanding about WordPress themes, what WordPress themes are, how they help your business save money on web development costs, and how themes make it easy to customize a site.

To learn where to find great themes for your website or blog, visit this page: How To Find The Best Premium And Free Responsive WordPress Web Templates For Your Business Online.


"These tutorials have so much information and are easy to understand. If you use WordPress or plan to in the future these will help you with everything you need to know." - Valisa (Mesa, Arizona)


Originally published as WordPress Themes Explained.