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 Introduction To ThemesThe introduction of advanced website management technologies like WordPress has effectively improved web design and web development for anyone wanting to start a website.

This greatly benefits entrepreneurial-minded people wanting a web presence that is simple, easy and inexpensive to manage.

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

The development of WordPress themes changed all this. In this post, we take a look at what WP themes are, how they save you and your business money on website design costs, and how themes help you easily customize your site.

A Revolution In Website Design

Website owners will benefit from a revolutionary change in web design that started several years ago. If you are a business owner, you will want to know more about this, because it can save your business a lot of time and money on website development or web design costs.

Let’s go over what used to happen before WordPress were introduced:

First, you would discuss your requirements with a web developer or designer. After that, the actual “web design” would be decided upon. This required spending time and money with someone with web design skills going over design elements of your web site like the layout, colors, formats, visual elements, content, etc.

Each page of your web site then had to be individually created with all the design elements and scripts coded into your page content. All of the pages were then assembled into a web site using hyperlinks and navigation menus and uploaded to your server, along with every other file required to make your website work – script libraries, graphic images, media, etc.

Themes - An Introduction

(image source:adobe.com)

Only after everything had been tested and was functioning the way 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 to go live.

The next stage in the evolution of business website design was the introduction of “web templating elements”. Web site templates allow the ”look and feel” of the web site to be worked on separately from content on the page. Having templates helped make building web sites faster and resulted in reduced production costs. This also allowed website development firms to service businesses and clients with less money to spend …

Understanding WP Themes

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

As more businesses began using “template-based” web design services, web templates started being introduced that could provide various customization options, like the option to switch colours, styles, layouts

As websites and website editing tools evolved, website templates also began to evolve into web templating “systems” that let users and web developers customize the visual aspects of a website.

And then, a “blogging” application called WordPress was developed and helped to start a new content management revolution …

Themes - An Introduction

(WordPress – A Content Publishing Revolution)

help To learn more about content management systems and the benefits of the WordPress CMS, see the tutorial below:

redarrow Benefits Of Using WordPress As A Content Management System (CMS)

The WordPress Theme

A WordPress theme pushes the concept of a web template system one step further.

A WordPress theme controls and unifies the design areas of your web site. It lets you add a “skin” to your entire site similarly to what a web template system does but it also also gives you complete control over the management, presentation and customization of your site’s template features.

As WordPress 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 the above states, a unique feature of a WP theme is that how your web site displays to site visitors is a different thing from the way your content is managed.

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

Why is this important?

Because when your site is powered with WordPress, you no longer have to spend weeks or months waiting for your web design to be completed. You can get your website built simply and get started with any theme you want, and change the entire look, feel and design of your website in a few seconds, whenever you choose … and as often as you like!

Even better, you can easily install a theme on your site with no web coding knowledge necessary. Simply choose any theme you like, upload it to your website and activate it. WordPress lets you change your website design and modify elements like header images, layout, styling options and more with just a few mouse clicks …

Themes - An Introduction

As 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 high quality WP themes can be downloaded by WP users. WordPress are normally distributed for Free under the terms of the GNU General Public License, or they can be purchased as Premium (paid) WordPress themes.

The WordPress development team maintains a FREE directory of WordPress themes which allows WordPress users to download, access and install thousands of excellent themes for free …

Themes - An Introduction

(WordPress.org – Theme Directory)

As the popularity of WordPress soars, more designers are now focused on developing themes for a wider range of uses.

WP themes vary from simple-looking, to stylish designs that are simply impressive and could normally cost hundreds to many thousands of dollars to develop. Surprisingly, most WP themes can be bought fairly inexpensively, especially when you compare the price to what it would have cost you if a web designer had to create it from scratch.

You can see several theme galleries that include various examples of great premium WP themes in this page: How To Find Great Free And Paid Responsive WordPress Web Templates For Your Web Site Or Blog

Benefits Of WordPress Themes

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

Ready To Go To Work In No Time

Themes are very easy to install on your site. Just upload it to your Plugins folder via your admin area and activate. Even easier still, you can install any of the themes listed in the free WP theme directory at WordPress.org) directly from your WP dashboard.

Understanding Themes


  • WordPress has a thriving community of professional web developers and development companies who contribute thousands of high quality WordPress Themes available to users. And many of these themes are completely free to use!
  • Themes give sites a unified and consistent “look and feel” across all of the site’s elements, i.e. pages, headers, footers, layout, etc …
  • A “theme” works independently of your digital content. This means you can replace WP themes as often as you like without modifying your settings.
  • Many themes provide built-in functionality and settings that enable you to customize your site’s style and design properties and create a unique look to suit your preferences.
  • Many WP themes are built using a framework that enables you to upgrade the theme to newer versions without losing its unique customizations (e.g. styles)
  • WordPress lets you search, upload and install WordPress Themes automatically right inside the dashboard.
  • WP themes helps you save hundreds, even thousands of dollars on website design costs. Free themes cost nothing and most “Premium”themes are normally quite affordable.

Responsive WP Theme Design

Many theme developers are now creating themes that incorporate “responsive” design standards.

A responsive theme allows websites to automatically reconfigure the layout to display smoothly across different monitor sizes and screen resolutions, as well as across different devices (e.g. computers, tablets, cell phones, etc.) …

WP Themes - An Overview

Responsive themes are also optimized for each platform. Users can scroll, read and load your site on a range of device platforms without having to readjust their browser settings, or requiring the website owner to install additional themes.

Note: When searching for WordPress themes, we recommend choosing a responsive WordPress theme. Not only will a responsive theme ensure that the content and layout of your site will work correctly across all devices, it also means that the theme is newer than non-responsive themes and therefore complies with the latest standards and practices of web design.

Hopefully, the above overview has helped you gain a better understanding about WP themes, what WordPress themes are, how themes help you and your business save money, and how WordPress themes let you easily customize a WP site.

To learn where to search for the best WP themes for your website or blog, go here: How To Find Great Free And Premium Responsive WordPress Templates Online.


"This is an awesome training series. I have a pretty good understanding of WordPress already, but this is helping me to move somewhere from intermediate to advanced user!" - Kim Lednum

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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!

Originally published as WordPress Themes Explained.