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 white label version of this tutorial visit WPTrainingManual.com.

WP For Newbies - An Introduction To ThemesThe introduction of advanced website management technologies like the WordPress Content Management System (CMS) has effectively simplified web design and web development for anyone wanting a website.

This greatly benefits business owners planning on getting an online business presence that is simple, easy and inexpensive to manage.

Before blogging and the development of user-friendly content management systems, if you needed to build a professional website for your business, you typically would have to wait until both the website development and web design processes were completely done. This could take weeks, sometimes even months!

The development of WordPress themes helped change all this. In this post, you will learn what WP themes are, how WP themes help you save money on website design costs, and how WP themes make it easy to customize your site.

Web Design Revolution

More businesses are benefiting from a tremendous revolution in web design that has been going for a number of years now. If you are a business owner, you may want to know about this, because it can save you a lot of time and money on website development and web design costs.

Let’s briefly go over how things used to work in “traditional” website development before a CMS software like WordPress was developed:

First, you would discuss your requirements with a web site developer or website designer. Next, the actual design would be discussed and agreed upon. This involved spending time with someone with website design skills going over elements of your web site like the, colours, styles, visual elements, content, etc.

Each page of your web site then had to be hand-coded with all of your elements and codes inserted into your content. The pages were then assembled into a website using hyperlinks and custom coded navigation menus and uploaded to your server, together with all other files needed to make your website work – script libraries, images, media, etc.

A Newbie's Guide To Themes

(image source:adobe.com)

Only once everything had been tested and performed how it was supposed to (and looking how a client had imagined it to look), was the website considered to be completed and ready to go live.

The next step in the evolution of business website design was the introduction of “website templating elements”. Website templates allow ”look and feel” elements of the web site to be worked on separately from content on the page. The development of templates helped to speed up the web creation process and resulted in reduced production costs. This also allowed web development firms to expand their services to include smaller businesses with smaller budgets …

WordPress Themes - An Introduction

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

As more website development companies began adopting “template-based” web design services, templates were developed that offered clients with different custom settings, like the ability to choose different colours, styles, layouts

As websites and website building software developed, website templates also started to transform into web template ”systems”, letting users manage the design components of their website.

And then, a “blogging” software called WordPress was introduced and helped to start a new digital publishing revolution …

Understanding WP Themes

(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 further.

A WP theme controls every aspect of your website design. It allows you to add a “skin” to your entire site similarly to what a website template system does but it also also gives you complete control over the management, appearance and customization of the template features.

As the official WordPress site puts 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 stated in the quote above, one of the unique and revolutionary features of WordPress is that how your web site looks to visitors in no way affects how your content is managed.

In plain English terms, what this means is that themes let you modify the look and feel of your site as often as you like without affecting your site’s content and all the functionality you’ve built into it. For example, if your website has been set up for e-commerce, changing the entire look of your site with a different theme won’t affect the content or the functionality of the web site. All e-commerce features, settings and product information will remain unaffected, but the site will look completely different.

This is huge! Why?

Because with WordPress, you no longer have to wait until your website’s design is completed. You can get your website built quickly and get started with any WordPress theme you want, and completely change the look, feel and design of your site in seconds, whenever you decide … and as often as you like!

Even better, you can easily replace any theme on your WordPress site with no web design knowledge required. Simply pick a theme you want, install it on your website and activate it. WordPress lets you change your website design and modify elements like header images, page layout, style settings and more in a few seconds …

Understanding WordPress Themes

Because WordPress is made available as open source software, website designers can design themes specifically for the WP CMS platform using the WP templating system.

This means that thousands of high quality WP themes can be downloaded by WordPress users. WordPress are generally distributed as Free Software under the terms of the GNU License Definition, or they can be purchased as Premium (paid) themes.

The WordPress team maintains a FREE WordPress Theme Directory which allows WordPress users to access thousands of great WP themes at no cost …

Understanding WP Themes

(WordPress.org – Themes Directory)

As the popularity of WordPress soars, more designers are now focused on developing themes for a wider audience of WordPress site owners.

WP themes vary from simple-looking, to dynamic designs that are simply stunning and could typically cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars to develop. Surprisingly, themes can be purchased fairly inexpensively, especially when you compare the price to what you would have been charged if a website designer had to develop it from scratch.

You can see a number of theme galleries containing various examples of themes here:

Browse Thousands Of FREE WordPress Themes!

(Browse Thousands Of FREE WordPress Themes!)

Benefits Of Using Themes

Here are just some of the benefits of choosing WordPress themes over choosing web building applications that require traditional web design:

Ready To Start Using In Minutes

WordPress themes are very easy to install on your site. Just upload the plugin file to your Plugin folder via your WordPress admin user account and activate. Even easier still, you can install any of the themes listed in the theme repository at WordPress.org) directly from within your WordPress dashboard.

WordPress Themes - An Overview

Additionally …

  • WordPress has a large community of commercial website designers and design companies who, collectively, contribute thousands of great WordPress Themes available to users. Thousands of these themes are completely free to use!
  • Themes give sites a unified and consistent look across all of the blog’s elements, i.e. pages, headers, footers, menus, layout, etc …
  • A “theme” works independently of your digital content. This means you can change themes as often as you like without changing your blog’s underlying content.
  • Many WordPress themes come with built-in functionality and options that let you easily customize the theme’s layout, style and design elements and create a unique look to suit your business.
  • Many WordPress themes are built using a framework that enables users to upgrade themes to a newer theme version without losing any unique customizations (e.g. CSS styles)
  • WordPress allows you to search, import, install and update WordPress Themes automatically from the site’s administration interface.
  • WordPress themes allow users to save hundreds of dollars on web development costs. Free WordPress themes cost nothing and most “Premium”themes are typically quite inexpensive.

Responsive WP Themes

Many theme developers are now developing themes that incorporate “responsive” functionality.

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

A Basic Guide To Understanding Themes

A responsive theme is also optimized for each device type. Users can scroll, read and load a site on most if not all devices without having to resize anything, or requiring website owners 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 website displays well across all devices, it also means that the theme is newer than non-responsive themes and therefore should comply with the latest standards, practices and techniques of website design.

We hope that the above article has provided you with a good overview of WordPress themes, what themes are, how WP themes can help you save money on website design costs, and how WP themes let you easily customize a website.

In the next blog post on helping you understand WordPress features, we show you where to find the best themes for your blog.


"I have used the tutorials to teach all of my clients and it has probably never been so easy for everyone to learn WordPress ... Now I don't need to buy all these very expensive video courses that often don't deliver what they promise." - Stefan Wendt, Internet Marketing Success Group


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