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.

For a whitelabel version of this tutorial visit WPTrainingManual.com.

WP For Business - An Introduction To WordPress ThemesThe development of website management technologies like the WordPress CMS platform has effectively simplified web design and web development for non-technical business users.

This greatly benefits entrepreneurial-minded people planning to start or build a digital presence that is easy to manage.

Before “blogging” and the development of easy-to-use content management systems, if you needed to get a professional web site built for your business, you normally would have to wait until both the website development and website design processes were fully completed. This could mean weeks, sometimes even months of waiting around!

The introduction of WordPress themes changed all this. In this article, you will learn what WP themes are, how themes save you and your business money on web development costs, and how WP themes help you easily customize your site.

The Evolution Of Web Site Design

More website owners today will benefit from a revolutionary change in web design that started many years ago. If you are a small business owner, you will want to know about this, because it could save your business thousands of dollars on website development or website design costs.

Very briefly, this is what normally happened before WordPress came along:

The first step would be to discuss your requirements with a website development agency or designer. Then, the “web design” would be decided upon. This involved spending time and money with someone with website design skills going over elements of your site such as the, colors, styles, page elements, content, etc.

Each page of your website then had to be hand-coded with the design elements and scripts coded around the page content. The pages were then assembled together into a website using links and navigation menus and uploaded to your server, together with all other files required to make your site work – script libraries, graphic images, media elements, etc.

Themes - An Introduction

(image source:adobe.com)

Only after everything passed testing and worked how it was intended to (and looking the way a client had wanted it to look), was the web site considered to be completed and ready for delivery.

The next phase in the evolution of business website design was the introduction of “website templating elements”. A web template allows the ”look and feel” of the web site to be created separately from the page content. The introduction of ready-made templates helped speed up the process of developing web sites and resulted in reduced production costs. This also enabled web developers to expand their services to include businesses and clients with less money to spend …

Themes - An Overview

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

As the number of web site development agencies using “template-based” websites increased, web templates started being designed that offered clients with a range of customization settings, such as the ability to choose different colors, styles, layouts

As web sites and web editing applications developed, website templates also began to evolve into web templating ”systems”, letting users control their website’s design elements.

And then, WordPress was developed and helped to kick off a new content management 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:

The WordPress Theme

WordPress themes drive web template systems much further.

The WP theme system controls all of the design aspects of the website. It allows you to add a “skin” to your site in a similar way that a template system does but it also also provides users with complete control over the management and ability to customize template options.

According to 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 the above states, one of the unique and revolutionary features of a WordPress theme is that how your website appears to visitors externally is kept independent of your site’s content management aspects.

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

Why is this such a big deal?

Because when you use WordPress, you no longer need to wait until your site’s web design is completed. You can get your website built simply and get started with any theme you want, and then edit the entire look, feel and design of your WordPress site in mere minutes, whenever you choose … and as often as you like!

Even better, you can easily replace any theme on your site without needing web code development knowledge. Just pick a WordPress theme you like, install it on your site and activate it. WordPress lets you change your entire site’s web design and modify elements like headers, layout, style settings and more in minutes …

Themes - An Overview

Since WordPress is distributed as open source software, professional web designers anywhere in the world can create themes specifically for the WP CMS platform using the WP templating system.

This means that loads of great WordPress themes are made available to WordPress users. Themes are usually distributed as Free Software under the terms of the GNU General Public License Definition, or they can be purchased as Premium (i.e. paid) themes.

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

Themes - An Overview

(WordPress.org – WP Theme Directory)

As more businesses turn to WordPress for publishing and managing their digital presence, more designers are now starting to create themes for a wider audience of web users.

WordPress themes range from simple-looking, to jaw-dropping designs that are simply spectacular and would typically cost many hundreds of dollars to create. Surprisingly, most WordPress themes are really inexpensive to buy.

You can see several theme galleries that include various examples of great themes here:

Browse Thousands Of FREE WordPress Themes!

(Browse Thousands Of FREE WordPress Themes!)

Benefits Of Using WP Themes

Here are just some of the many benefits of choosing WordPress themes over using traditional website design:

Be Up And Running In No Time

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

A Basic Guide To Understanding WP Themes


  • WordPress has a growing community of professional theme designers and design companies who make thousands of fantastic WordPress Themes available to users. Many of these themes are completely free to use!
  • Themes give sites a consistent “look and feel” across all the site’s elements, i.e. pages, headers, footers, menus, etc …
  • A “theme” works independently of your digital content. This allows you replace the “look and feel” of your web site or blog as often as you need without deleting the site’s settings.
  • Many themes come with additional features and options that allow you to easily customize the site’s style, layout and design elements to create a unique look to suit your needs.
  • Many themes are built using a framework that lets users upgrade themes to a newer theme version without losing any unique customizations (e.g. CSS styles)
  • WordPress lets you search, upload and install WordPress Themes automatically right inside the admin panel.
  • Themes helps you save thousands of dollars on web design costs. Free themes cost nothing and most “Premium”WP themes are typically quite inexpensive.

Responsive Themes

Many theme developers are now developing “responsive” themes.

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

Themes - An Introduction

A responsive theme is also optimized for each device type. Users can scroll, read and display the site on all device platforms without having to readjust their browser settings, or requiring the website owner to install additional themes.

Note: When searching for WordPress themes, it’s a good idea to choose a responsive WordPress theme. Not only will the theme ensure that the content and layout of your site will display correctly on all devices, but it also means that the theme is newer than most non-responsive themes and therefore complies with the latest standards and practices of website design.

We hope that this post has given you a good understanding of themes, what WordPress themes are, how themes help your business save money on web development costs, and how themes make customizing sites easy.

In the next blog post in our article WordPress newbies on basic WordPress features, we show you where to search for the best WordPress themes for your website or blog.


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