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.

WP For Business - An Overview Of ThemesPowerful web management systems like the WordPress CMS have truly improved web design and web development for non-technical business users.

This is a great thing for non-technical users thinking of getting a website that is simple, easy and inexpensive to manage.

Before blogging and the introduction of powerful content management systems, if you wanted to get a web site for your business, you had to wait until both the web development and website design processes were fully completed. This could take weeks, sometimes even many months!

WordPress themes changed all this. In this post, we take a look at what WordPress themes are, how they can help you save money, and how WordPress themes make it easy to customize your WordPress site.

Website Design Evolution

More website owners will benefit from a great change in website design that started many years ago. If you own a business, you may want to know more about this, because it can save your business a lot of time and money on web development or web design costs.

Let’s take a look at what used to happen before WordPress was introduced:

The first step would be to meet with a web developer or web site designer for a brief. After that, the “web design” would be discussed and agreed upon. This involved time being spent with a professional web designer discussing design elements of your site such as the layout, colours, styles, graphic elements, content, etc.

Every page of your website then had to be hand-coded with all the elements and codes inserted into your content. The pages were then assembled together into a website using links and navigation menus and uploaded to your server, along with every other file needed to make your website work – script libraries, images, media, etc.

Understanding WordPress Themes

(image source:adobe.com)

Only after everything had been tested and was working how it was supposed to (and looking how the client had wanted it to look), was the website deemed to be finished and ready to go live.

Then, website “templates” came along”. A web site template allows the design of the web site to be worked on separately from the page content. The introduction of template elements helped speed up the process of developing web sites and resulted in reduced production costs. This also enabled web development companies to service smaller business clients and clients with smaller marketing budgets …

WordPress Themes - An Introduction

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

As more small businesses began choosing “template-based” websites, web templates were created that could provide clients with various customization features and options, such as color palettes, the ability to specify different layouts and elements, etc …

As websites and website building software evolved, web templates also started to evolve into website templating “systems” that let users and web developers control their website’s visual aspects.

And then, WordPress came along and helped to kick off a new online publishing revolution …

WP 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:

About WordPress Themes

WordPress themes push web template systems much further.

The WP theme system controls and unifies all of the design elements of a website. It lets you add a “skin” to your entire site much like a website template system does but it provides you with more control over the management, appearance and ability to customize the site’s template features.

As the official WordPress site described 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 the above quote states, one of the unique and revolutionary features of WordPress is that the way your site appears to visitors is an entirely different thing from the management of your content.

In simple terms, what this means is that a WP theme lets you modify the look and feel of your site as much and as often as you want without affecting your website’s content and all the work you’ve put into it. For example, if you have configured your website for e-commerce, replacing the theme won’t affect the content or the functionality of your web site. All e-commerce features, settings and product information will remain unaffected, but the site will look completely different.

This is important. Why?

Because with 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 theme you like, and then customize the entire look, feel and design of your website in mere minutes, whenever you want … and as often as you like!

Even better, you can easily replace any theme on your WP site with no web design knowledge required. Just pick a 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, layout, style settings and more in minutes …

Themes - An Introduction

Since WordPress is open source software, thousands of website designers anywhere in the world can design themes specifically for the WordPress CMS platform using the WP templating system.

This means that thousands of great WP themes can be downloaded by WordPress users. WP are normally distributed freely under the terms of the GNU General Public License, or they can be purchased as Premium (paid) themes.

The WordPress development team keeps a FREE directory of WordPress themes which allows WordPress users to download, access and install thousands of great WordPress themes at $0 cost …

A Newbie's Guide To Understanding WP Themes

(WordPress.org – WordPress Theme Directory)

As the popularity of WordPress soars, more designers are now starting to develop themes for a wider audience of web users.

WP themes range from corporate-looking, to fancy designs that are impressive and would normally cost many hundreds of dollars to create. Surprisingly, themes are quite inexpensive to purchase.

You can see several WP theme galleries containing stunning examples of WP themes here:

Benefits Of Using Themes

Here are just a few of the benefits of using WordPress themes over using tools that require traditional web template design:

Ready To Go To Work In Minutes

WordPress themes are very easy to install on your site. Just upload a zip folder that contains the plugin files to your Plugin folder via your WordPress dashboard and activate. Even easier still, you can install any of the themes listed in the WP theme directory at WordPress.org) directly from within your WordPress site’s admin area.

Understanding Themes


  • WordPress has a growing online community of commercial theme developers who contribute thousands of great-looking, high quality WordPress Themes available to users. Many of these themes are 100% free to use!
  • Themes give sites a consistent design across all the blog’s elements, like pages, headers, footers, menus, etc …
  • A “theme” works independently of your website’s content. This means you can replace the “look and feel” of your site as often as you need without deleting your site’s information.
  • Many WP themes provide additional features and settings that allow you to easily customize the site’s layout and design elements to create a unique look to suit your needs.
  • Many themes are built using a framework that lets you update the theme to newer theme versions without losing any unique customizations (e.g. CSS styles)
  • WordPress lets you search, import and install WordPress Themes automatically right within the admin panel.
  • Themes allow WordPress users to save hundreds of dollars on web design costs. Free WP themes cost nothing and most “Premium”themes are normally very affordable.

About Responsive Theme Design

Many theme designers are now creating “responsive” themes for WordPress.

A responsive theme allows a website to automatically readjust the web layout to display smoothly across different monitor sizes and screen resolutions, as well as across different platforms) …

WP Themes - An Introduction

A responsive theme is also optimized for each platform. Users can scroll, read and load your site on most if not all devices without having to resize anything, or requiring the website owner to have installed additional browser tools.

Note: When downloading WordPress themes, we strongly recommend choosing a responsive WordPress theme. Not only will a responsive theme ensure that your web site displays well on all of your visitors’ devices, it also means that the theme is newer than most non-responsive themes and therefore should comply with the latest standards and practices of website design.

Hopefully, this basic overview has helped you gain a better understanding about WP themes, what WP themes are, how WordPress themes can help your business save money on web development costs, and how themes make customizing websites easy.

To learn where to search for the best themes for your website, go here:

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"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)

Disclaimer: This site has no association with WordPress, Automattic, or any of the WordPress-related products reviewed on this site. We may derive financial benefits from the purchase of any products advertised on our website. All images and information sourced from product websites remain the copyright of their respective owners and are used solely for training or illustrative purposes.


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Author: Martin Aranovitch

Martin Aranovitch is the founder of WPCompendium.org and has authored hundreds of FREE WordPress tutorials for non-techies and beginners. WPCompendium.org provides detailed step-by-step tutorials that will teach you how to use WordPress with no coding skills required and grow your business online at minimal cost!