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 content management technologies like the WordPress Content Management System (CMS) has effectively simplified web design and web development for users.

This is a great thing for business owners planning to start or build a website that is relatively simple, easy and inexpensive to manage.

Before “blogging” and the development of advanced CMS technologies, if you needed a web site, you would have to wait until both the web development and website design processes were fully completed. This could mean waiting around for weeks, sometimes even many months!

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

A Revolution In Website Design

More website owners are benefiting from a tremendous revolution in website design that started many years ago. If you own a business, you may want to know more about this, because it could save you a lot of time and money on web development or website design costs.

Very briefly, here’s what used to happen before WordPress came along:

The first step would be to meet with a website development agency or designer for a brief. After that, the design would be decided upon. This meant time being spent with a professional website designer discussing elements of the site such as the layout, colours, styles, visual elements, content, etc.

Each page of your web site then had to be individually created with your design elements and scripts coded around your content. All the pages were then assembled into a web site using links and custom coded navigation menus and uploaded to your server, together with all other files needed to make your site work – script libraries, images, media, etc.

Themes - An Overview

(image source:adobe.com)

Only after everything passed testing and worked the way it was supposed to (and looking the way the client had imagined it to look), was the web site considered to be completed and ready to go live.

The next step in the evolution of web design was the introduction of “web templates”. A web site template allows the ”look and feel” of the website to be worked on separately from content on the page. Having template elements helped speed up the web site creation process and resulted in lowered production costs. This also allowed web site development agencies to service business clients and clients with smaller budgets …

Themes - An Introduction

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

As more web development agencies started adopting “template-based” websites, web templates started being introduced that could provide clients with expanding customizable settings, such as color palettes, the ability to specify different content styles or content styles, and so on.

As websites and web editor software developed, web templates also started transforming into web templating “systems” that allow website owners to customize their web site’s design aspects.

And then, a “blogging” software called WordPress came along and helped to kick off a new website revolution …

WordPress 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 web template systems one step further.

The WordPress theme system controls all of the design areas of a website. It allows you to add a “skin” over your entire site in a similar way that a website template system does but it also also gives you complete control over the management, presentation and customization aspects of all template options.

As stated in 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 above, one of the unique and revolutionary features of the WordPress theme is that how your site displays to site visitors externally in no way affects how your site functions in the backend to handle areas like content management and functionality.

In simple terms, what this means is that themes let you modify the appearance of your site as often as you want without touching your website’s content and all the functionality you’ve built into it. For example, if you have set up WP site for e-commerce, replacing the theme won’t affect the content or the functionality of your website. All e-commerce features, settings and product information will remain intact, but your site will look completely different.

This is important. Why?

Because with WordPress, you no longer have to spend weeks or months waiting for your site to be completed. You can get your website built quickly and get started with any theme you like, and modify the entire look, feel and design of your site in seconds, whenever you decide … and as many times as you like!

Even better, you can easily install a theme on your site with no web code development knowledge required. Simply choose any theme you like, install it on your site and activate it. WordPress allows you to change your entire site’s web design and customize elements like header images, layout, style settings and more with just a couple of mouse clicks …

A Basic Guide To Themes

Because WordPress is made available as open source software, commercial web designers all around the world can create themes specifically for the WordPress platform using the WordPress templating system.

This means that thousands of great WP themes are made available to WP users. WordPress are normally 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 WordPress Theme Directory which gives WordPress users access thousands of excellent WP themes at no cost …

A Newbie's Guide To Understanding Themes

(WordPress.org – Themes Directory)

As more businesses turn to WordPress for online publishing, more designers are now starting to develop themes for a wider audience of web users.

Themes range from professional-looking, to designs that are simply beautiful and could typically cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars to design. Surprisingly, most WordPress themes are really inexpensive to purchase.

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

Browse Thousands Of FREE WordPress Themes!

(Browse Thousands Of FREE WordPress Themes!)

WP Themes – Benefits & Advantages

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

Be Up And Running In Very Little Time

WordPress themes are quite easy to install on your site. Simply upload it to your Plugin folder via your WP dashboard 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 site’s admin area.

A Basic Guide To Understanding Themes

Additionally …

  • WordPress has a large community of commercial theme developers and development companies who, collectively, contribute thousands of great WordPress Themes available to users. Many of these themes are completely free to use!
  • Themes give sites a unified and consistent design across all the site’s elements, like pages, headers, footers, layout, etc …
  • A “theme” works independently of your digital content. This makes it possible to swap themes as often as you like without disturbing the blog settings.
  • Many themes come with additional features and settings that allow you to easily customize your site’s layout, 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 the theme to newer theme versions without losing its unique customizations (e.g. styles)
  • WordPress lets you search, upload and install WordPress Themes automatically inside the admin panel.
  • WordPress themes lets you save thousands of dollars on web development costs. Free WordPress themes cost nothing and most “Premium”themes are normally very affordable.

Responsive WP Theme Design

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

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

Themes - An Overview

A responsive theme is also optimized for each platform. Users can navigate, read and load the site on all device platforms without having to resize anything, or requiring website owners to install additional browser elements.

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

I hope that this overview has helped you gain a better understanding about WordPress themes, what themes are, how themes help your business save money, and how WP themes make customizing sites easy.

In the next blog post on understanding basic features and functionality of WordPress, we show you where to find great themes for your blog.


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Originally published as WordPress Themes Explained.