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.

A Basic Guide To Understanding ThemesThe development of web publishing applications like the WordPress CMS platform has truly simplified web design and web development for web users.

This greatly benefits businesses planning to start a web presence that is relatively simple, easy and inexpensive to manage.

Before “blogging” and the introduction of powerful and effective content management systems, if you needed a professional business website, you normally had to wait until both the website development and web design processes were completely done. This process could mean waiting for many weeks, even many months!

WordPress themes changed all this. In this blog post, we will explore what WP themes are, how themes help you and your business save money on web design costs, and how WP themes let you easily customize your website.

A Revolution In Web Site Design

More website owners today have benefited from an evolution in website design that started a number of years ago. If you own a small business, you may want to know about this, because it can save your business a lot of time and money on web development or website design costs.

Let’s go over how things worked in “traditional” web design before WordPress were introduced:

The first step would be to discuss your project with a web development company or web site designer. After this, the actual design would be decided upon. This required time and money being spent with a professional web site designer discussing design elements of your site such as the, colours, styles, graphic elements, content, etc.

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

Understanding Themes

(image source:adobe.com)

Only once everything passed testing and functioned how it should (and looking the way the client had wanted it to look), was the site deemed to have been finished and ready to go live.

The next phase in the evolution of website design was the introduction of “web templating elements”. A web site template allows the ”look and feel” of the website to be created separately from the page content. The development of ready-made templates helped to make site development faster and resulted in lowered costs of production. This also allowed web site development companies to work with business clients with smaller marketing budgets …

Understanding Themes

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

As more small businesses started choosing “template-based” websites, templates started being created that could provide clients with a range of customizable features and options, such as the ability to choose different colors, styles, layouts

As web sites and web building tools developed, website templates also started to transform into web template “systems” that enable users to control their web site’s visual elements.

Then, a “blogging” application called WordPress came along and helped to kick off a new web revolution …

Themes - An Introduction

(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 drive the concept of a web templating system one step further.

A WordPress theme controls all of the design elements of the website. It allows you to add a “skin” to your entire site in a similar way that a template system does but it also also gives you more control over the management, appearance and ability to customize template options.

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 stated above, a unique and revolutionary feature of the WP theme is that the way your website appears to visitors on the outside does not affect the way your content is managed.

In plain English terms, what this means is that a theme lets you modify the appearance of your site 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 your site for e-commerce, changing the entire look of your site with another theme won’t affect the content or the functionality of the web site. All e-commerce features, site settings and product information will remain unaffected, but your site will look completely different.

Why is this such a big deal?

Because with WordPress, you no longer need to wait until your website’s design is completed. You can get your website built quickly and get started with any WordPress theme you want, and edit the entire look, feel and design of your website in mere seconds, whenever you decide … and as many times as you like!

Even better, you can easily install a theme on your site without the need of website code development skills. Just pick any WordPress theme you want, upload it to your site and activate it. WordPress allows you to change your site’s design and customize elements like header images, layout, style settings and more with just a few mouse clicks …

A Newbie's Guide To WP Themes

Because WordPress is open source software, web design companies can design themes specifically for the WordPress platform using the WP templating system.

This means that thousands of great WordPress themes are made available to WordPress users. WP are generally distributed for FREE under the terms of the GNU General Public License, or they can be purchased as Premium (paid) themes.

The WordPress development team maintains a FREE WordPress Theme Directory which allows WordPress users to access thousands of excellent themes at no cost …

A Newbie's Guide To WP Themes

(WordPress.org – Themes Directory)

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

WP themes range from functional-looking, to stylish designs that are quite spectacular and could normally cost thousands of dollars to develop. Surprisingly, most premium themes are very inexpensive.

You can view several theme galleries containing stunning examples of WordPress themes in this page:

Browse Thousands Of FREE WordPress Themes!

(Browse Thousands Of FREE WordPress Themes!)

Themes – Benefits And Advantages

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

Be Up And Running In Very Little Time

Themes are very easy to install on your site. Just upload it to your Plugins folder via your WordPress admin user area and activate. Even easier still, you can install any of the themes listed in the free WP theme repository at WordPress.org) directly inside your WordPress site’s admin area.

WordPress Themes - An Overview


  • WordPress has a growing community of commercial website designers and design companies who contribute thousands of high quality WordPress Themes available to users. Many of these themes are completely free to use!
  • Themes give sites a consistent look across all of your blog’s elements, like pages, headers, footers, layouts, etc …
  • A “theme” works independently of your website’s content. This makes it possible to change WP themes as often as you like without deleting the underlying content.
  • Many themes provide additional functionality and options that allow you to easily customize the site’s style and design properties to create a unique look to suit your preferences.
  • Many WP themes are built using a framework that lets users upgrade the theme to newer versions without losing any unique customizations (e.g. CSS styles)
  • WordPress allows you to search, import and install WordPress Themes automatically inside your dashboard.
  • WP themes lets you save thousands of dollars on web development costs. Free WordPress themes cost nothing and most “Premium”themes are typically very inexpensive.

Responsive Theme Design

Many theme developers are now creating “responsive” themes.

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

WordPress Themes - An Introduction

Responsive themes are also optimized for different types of devices. Users can navigate, read and display your site on most device platforms without having to readjust their browser settings, or requiring the website owner to install additional browser elements.

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

Hopefully, the above article has helped you gain a better understanding of WordPress themes, what themes are, how themes can help your business save money, and how themes make customizing your web design easy.

To learn where to find great themes for your website or blog, see this page: Finding The Best Premium And Free Responsive WordPress Web Templates Online.


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