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 Newbie's Guide To Understanding ThemesThe introduction of website management technologies like WordPress has effectively simplified web design and web development for website owners.

This greatly benefits business owners thinking about building a website that they can fully manage.

Prior to “blogging” and the introduction of advanced content management systems, if you wanted to build a professional site for your business, you would have to wait until both the web development and website design processes were completely done. This could take weeks, even months!

WordPress themes have changed all this. In this blog post, you will learn what themes are, how they can help you save money, and how WordPress themes allow you to easily customize your site.

A New Development In Website Design

More website owners today have been benefiting from a tremendous revolution in website design that has been going for several years now. If you own a business, you may want to know more about this, because it can save you a lot of time and money on website development or website design costs.

Let’s go over how things worked in “traditional” web design before CMS software like WordPress came along:

The first step would be to meet with a web development company or web site designer for a brief. Next, the design would be discussed and agreed upon. This involved time and money being spent with someone with web design skills going over design elements of your site like the, colors, styles, graphic elements, content, etc.

Every page of your site then had to be individually created with all the elements and codes inserted into the content. All pages were then assembled together into a web site using links and navigation menus and uploaded to your server, along with every other file required to make your site work – script libraries, images, media elements, etc.

WordPress Themes - An Introduction

(image source:adobe.com)

Only once everything had been tested and performed the way it should (and looking the way the client had imagined it to look), was the site deemed to be completed and ready for delivery.

The next step in the evolution of business web design was the introduction of “website templating elements”. A web site template allows the design of the web site to be created separately from the page content. The introduction of template elements helped make the process of site creation faster and resulted in lowered production costs. This also allowed web site development firms to service small businesses with smaller marketing budgets …

WordPress Themes - An Introduction

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

As more businesses started using “template-based” websites, web templates started being introduced to offer a number of customizable options, such as the ability to choose different colours, styles, layouts

As websites and web editing software evolved, web templates also started to transform into website template “systems” that enable users to customize the design aspects of their web site.

And then, a “blogging” application called WordPress came along and helped to start a new web revolution …

Understanding Themes

(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 website templating systems further.

A WP theme controls and unifies the design areas of your website. It allows you to add a “skin” to your entire site much like a template system does but it also also gives you complete control over the management, presentation and customization of all template features.

As WordPress has described in its 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 the above states, one of the unique and revolutionary features of a WP theme is that how your site displays to site visitors externally is kept independent of the way your content is managed.

In simple terms, what this means is that you can modify the look and feel of your website as much and as often as you want without touching your website’s content and all the work you’ve put into it. For example, if WP website has been set up for e-commerce, changing the entire look of the site with another 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 when your website is built using WordPress, you no longer need to spend weeks or months waiting for your site to be done. You can get your business website built quickly and get started with any WP theme you want, and then change the entire look, feel and design of your site in minutes, whenever you choose … and as often as you like!

Even better, you can easily install a theme on your site without having web design skills. Just pick a theme you like, upload it to your website and activate it. WordPress allows you to change your web design and customize elements like headers, layout, style settings and more with just a couple of mouse clicks …

A Newbie's Guide To WordPress Themes

Because WordPress is distributed as open source software, website designers can create themes specifically for the WordPress platform using the WordPress template system.

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

The WordPress development team maintains a FREE theme directory which gives WordPress users access thousands of great website templates at no cost …

Themes - An Overview

(WordPress.org – Themes Directory)

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

WordPress themes vary from corporate-looking, to stylish designs that are quite impressive and could easily cost thousands of dollars to commission. Surprisingly, WordPress themes can be purchased very inexpensively, especially when compared to what you would have had to pay if a website designer had to build it from scratch.

You can view a number of WP theme galleries containing stunning examples of themes in this post:

Browse Thousands Of FREE WordPress Themes!

(Browse Thousands Of FREE WordPress Themes!)

Themes – Benefits

Here are just some of the benefits and advantages of choosing WordPress themes over choosing applications that require traditional website design:

Ready To Use In Very Little Time

Themes are very easy to install on your site. Just 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 WP theme repository at WordPress.org) directly from your WordPress dashboard.

Understanding WordPress Themes


  • WordPress has a growing community of commercial theme developers who make thousands of quality WP Themes available to users. Many of these themes are completely free to use!
  • Themes give sites a consistent “look and feel” across all of the site’s elements, like pages, headers, footers, menus, etc …
  • A “theme” works independently of your website’s content. This means you can replace themes as often as you want without affecting the underlying content.
  • Many WP themes come with built-in features and options that allow you to easily customize your theme’s style, layout and design properties and 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 customizations (e.g. styles)
  • WordPress lets you search, upload and install WordPress Themes automatically from the site’s administration interface.
  • Themes lets you save hundreds, even thousands of dollars on web development costs. Free WordPress themes cost nothing and most “Premium”themes are typically quite inexpensive.

About Responsive Theme Design

Many WP theme developers are now developing themes that incorporate “responsive” design protocols.

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

A Basic Guide To Themes

Responsive themes are also optimized for different types of devices. Users can navigate, read and display the site on various device browsers without having to resize anything, or requiring website owners to have installed additional display elements.

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

We hope that the above article has provided you with a clearer understanding of themes, what themes are, how WordPress themes help your business save money on web development costs, and how themes let you easily customize a WordPress site.

To learn where to find great themes for your website or blog, visit this post: Where To Search For Great Paid And Free WordPress Web Themes For Your Business Online.


"This is AMAZING! I had learnt about how to use WordPress previously, but this covers absolutely everything and more!! Incredible value! Thank you!" - Monique, Warrior Forum


Originally published as WordPress Themes Explained.