This is a great thing for non-technical users wanting to start an online business presence that is relatively easy to manage.
Before “blogging” and the development of user-friendly content management systems, if you wanted a business site, you typically would have to wait until both the web development and web design processes were fully completed. This process could mean weeks, even months of waiting for the work to be done!
The development of WordPress themes helped change all this. In this blog post, we will explore what themes are, how they can help you and your business save money on website development costs, and how WP themes let you easily customize your website.
The Evolution Of Web Design
More website owners are benefiting from an evolution in web design that began shortly after websites were first introduced. If you are a small business owner, you will want to learn about this, because it could save your business thousands of dollars on web development or website design costs.
Let’s briefly review how things used to work in “traditional” website design before software like WordPress came along:
The first step would be to discuss your requirements with a web site development company or web site designer. After that, the actual ”look and feel” of the website would be discussed and agreed upon. This meant time being spent with someone with web design skills discussing things of your web site like the layout, colors, styles, graphic elements, content, etc.
Each page of your site then had to be individually created with all of your design elements and codes scripted into the page content. All of the pages were then assembled together 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.
Only after everything passed testing and was functioning how it should (and looking how the client had wanted it to look), was the website considered to have been finished and ready for sign off.
The next phase in the evolution of business web design was the introduction of “web templating elements”. A web template allows the design of the web site to be created separately from content on the page. Having template elements helped to make creating websites faster and resulted in reduced production costs. This also enabled web site developers to expand their services to include businesses and clients with less money to spend on marketing …
(image source: www.dreamweaver-templates.org)
As the number of web development companies using “template-based” web design services increased, web templates started being introduced to offer various customizable features and options, like the option to choose different colours, styles, layouts
As web sites and web editor software evolved, website templates also started transforming into web template “systems” that allow users to customize the design aspects of their web site.
Then, a “blogging” application called WordPress was developed and helped to start a new website revolution …
(WordPress – A Content Publishing Revolution)
To learn more about content management systems and the benefits of the WordPress CMS, see the tutorial below:
The WordPress Theme
WordPress themes push website templating systems further.
A WordPress theme controls every aspect of your web site design. It lets you add a “skin” over your site similarly to what a template system does but it also also provides users with more control over the management, presentation and customization of template options.
As the official WordPress site describes 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).
As the above states, one of the unique and revolutionary features of WordPress is that how your web site appears to visitors in no way affects the management of your content.
Basically, what this means is that a theme lets you modify the look and feel of your website as much and as often as you want without modifying your site’s content and all the functionality you’ve built into it. For example, if you have set up your website for e-commerce, changing the entire look of the site with a different theme won’t affect the content or the functionality of the web site. All e-commerce features, site and plugin settings and product information will remain unaffected, but the site will look completely different.
Why is this important?
Because when you use WordPress, you no longer have to spend weeks or months waiting for your site to be completed. You can get your website built simply and start with any WP theme you want, and then completely customize the look, feel and design of your WordPress site in minutes, whenever you choose … and as many times as you like!
Even better, you can easily replace any theme on your WordPress site without needing website design skills. Simply pick a theme you like, install it on your site and activate it. WordPress lets you change your web design and customize elements like headers, layout, style settings and more in less than a few minutes …
Since WordPress is made available as open source software, web design companies can create themes specifically for the WP CMS platform using the WordPress template system.
This means that loads of high quality WordPress themes can be downloaded by WP users. Themes are generally distributed for FREE under the terms of the GNU General Public License Definition, or sold as Premium (i.e. paid) WordPress themes.
The WordPress team keeps a FREE theme directory which gives WordPress users access thousands of great themes completely free of charge …
(WordPress.org – Free Theme Directory)
As the popularity of WordPress increases, more designers are now starting to create themes for a wider range of applications.
Themes vary from bare-looking, to designs that are visually spectacular and could typically cost many hundreds of dollars to design. Surprisingly, WP themes can be bought fairly cheaply, especially when compared to what it would have cost you if a web designer had to code it from scratch.
You can see a number of WordPress theme galleries containing many examples of themes here:
(Browse Thousands Of FREE WordPress Themes!)
Themes – Benefits
Here are just some of the benefits and advantages of choosing WordPress themes over using web building applications that require traditional web design:
Easy, Quick & Simple To Install
WP themes are quite easy to install on your site. Simply upload the plugin file to your Plugins folder via your WP dashboard and activate. Even easier still, you can install any of the themes listed in the free WordPress theme repository at WordPress.org) directly from your WP site’s admin area.
- WordPress has a growing online community of professional web designers who, collectively, contribute thousands of fantastic WP Themes available to WordPress users. And many of these themes are 100% free to use!
- Themes give sites a consistent “look and feel” across all of the site’s elements, i.e. pages, headers, footers, layouts, etc …
- A “theme” works independently of your website’s content. This makes it possible to replace the “look and feel” of your website as often as you like without affecting the settings.
- Many WordPress themes come with built-in features and options that enable you to easily customize the theme’s style and design properties to create a unique look to suit your needs.
- Many WP themes are built using a framework that lets you update the theme to newer versions without losing its unique customizations (e.g. styles)
- WordPress lets you search, upload and install WordPress Themes automatically directly from your admin panel.
- WordPress themes helps you save hundreds of dollars on web development costs. Free WordPress themes cost nothing and most “Premium”themes are normally quite affordable.
About Responsive Theme Design
Many theme developers are now developing themes that incorporate “responsive” design protocols.
A responsive theme allows websites to automatically reconfigure the layout to display smoothly over different monitor sizes and screen resolutions, as well as across different devices (e.g. PCs, tablets, cell phones, etc.) …
A responsive theme is also optimized for different platforms. Users can scroll, read and display your site on a range of device browsers without having to resize anything, or requiring the website owner to install additional display elements.
Note: When searching for WordPress themes, we recommend choosing a responsive WordPress theme. Not only will a responsive theme ensure that your web site displays well on all devices, it also means that the theme is newer than non-responsive themes and therefore complies with the latest standards and practices of website design and coding.
I hope that this overview has helped you gain a clearer understanding of WordPress themes, what WordPress themes are, how WP themes can help you save money on web development costs, and how WordPress themes make customizing sites easy.
In our next blog post on helping you understand features and functionality of WordPress, we show you where to search for the best themes for your website.
"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