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 Beginners - An Overview Of WP ThemesAdvanced web site management technologies like WordPress have truly simplified web design and web development for web users.

This greatly benefits businesses planning to start a website that is easy to manage.

Prior to “blogging” and the introduction of sophisticated CMS software, if you wanted to build a professional web site for your business, you had to wait until both the website development and web design processes were completely done. This process could mean waiting for many weeks, even months!

The development of WordPress themes changed all this. In this blog post, we explain what WordPress themes are, how themes can help your business save money on website development costs, and how themes let you easily customize your site.

A New Development In Web Site Design

More website owners today will benefit from a great change in web design that has been going for many years now. If you are a small business owner, you may want to learn more about this, because it can save your business a lot of time and money on website development and web design costs.

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

The first step would be to discuss your requirements with a web development agency or web site designer. After that, the “web design” itself would be discussed and agreed upon. This meant time being spent with a professional web designer discussing areas of your web site like the, colors, formats, page elements, content, etc.

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

WP Themes - An Overview

(image source:adobe.com)

Only once everything passed testing and functioned how it was supposed to (and looking how the client had wanted it to look), was the web site considered as being finished and ready for delivery.

Then, web design “templates” were introduced”. A web template allows the presentation of the website to be created separately from the page content. The development of templates helped speed up the process of developing websites and resulted in reduced costs of production. This also enabled website designers to service business clients with smaller budgets …

Understanding WordPress Themes

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

As the number of businesses choosing “template-based” websites increased, templates started being developed to offer clients with different customization options, like colour palettes, the ability to select different styles or layouts, etc …

As websites and website building software developed, web templates also began evolving into website template ”systems”, letting users and web developers customize the visual aspects of a website.

And then, WordPress came along and helped to kick off a new web 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:

The WordPress Theme

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

A WordPress theme controls and integrates all of the design elements of your web site. It allows you to add a “skin” to your entire site much like a website template system does but also gives you more control over the management, appearance and customization of the 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 and revolutionary feature of WordPress is that how your site appears to site visitors is an entirely different system from how your website functions internally to handle areas like content management and functionality.

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

This is huge! Why?

Because when you use WordPress, you no longer need to spend weeks or months waiting for your website to be completed. You can get your website built simply and get started with any WP theme you want, and edit the entire look, feel and design of your site in mere minutes, whenever you choose … and as often as you like!

Even better, you can easily install a theme on your site without requiring any web code editing skills. Simply choose any theme you want, install it on your website and activate it. WordPress lets you change your entire site’s web design and customize elements like headers, layout, styling options and more in less than a few minutes …

Themes - An Introduction

Since WordPress is distributed as open source software, web designers from all over the world can design themes specifically for the WordPress CMS platform using the WordPress templating system.

This means that thousands of great WordPress themes are made available to WP users. Themes are generally distributed freely under the terms of the GNU General Public License, or sold as Premium (i.e. paid) themes.

The WordPress team maintains a FREE directory of WP themes which gives WordPress users access thousands of great themes at $0 cost …

Themes - An Overview

(WordPress.org – Themes Directory)

As more businesses turn to WordPress for publishing and managing their digital presence, more designers are now starting to develop themes for a wider range of uses.

WP themes vary from functional-looking, to clever designs that are simply breathtaking and would typically cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars to commission. Surprisingly, most premium WordPress themes can be bought fairly inexpensively, especially when you compare the price to what you would have had to pay if a website designer had to build it from scratch.

You can view several theme galleries that include many examples of great premium themes in this page:

WP Themes – Benefits And Advantages

Here are just a few of the benefits of choosing WordPress themes over choosing traditional web template design:

Be Up And Running In No Time

Themes are quite easy to install on your site. Simply upload it to your Plugin folder via your 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 within your WordPress site’s admin area.

A Newbie's Guide To Understanding Themes


  • WordPress has a growing community of professional web designers who, collectively, contribute thousands of professional WP Themes available to users. And many of these themes are completely free to use!
  • Themes give sites a unified and consistent design across all your site’s elements, i.e. pages, headers, footers, menus, etc …
  • A “theme” works independently of your site’s content. This makes it possible to change the “look and feel” of your site as often as you like without modifying your underlying content of your website.
  • Many themes come with built-in features and settings that let you easily customize your theme’s layout, style and design properties and create a unique look to suit your taste.
  • Many themes are built using a framework that lets you upgrade the theme to newer versions without losing any customizations (e.g. styles)
  • WordPress lets you search, upload, install and update WordPress Themes automatically directly from within your site’s administration interface.
  • Themes helps you save thousands of dollars on website development costs. Free themes cost nothing and most “Premium”WP themes are normally very affordable.

Responsive WP Theme Design

Many theme developers are now developing “responsive” themes for WordPress.

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

A Basic Guide To Understanding Themes

A responsive theme is also optimized for different types of devices. Users can scroll, read and display the site on most if not all device browsers without having to resize anything, or requiring the website owner to install additional themes.

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

I hope that this article has provided you with a better overview of WP themes, what themes are, how themes can help you and your business save money on website development costs, and how WordPress themes make customizing websites easy.

To learn where to find great themes for your blog, see this page: Where To Get Great Free And Premium Responsive WordPress Themes On The Web.


"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)

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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!