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.

WordPress Themes - An OverviewThe introduction of powerful web site publishing platforms like the WordPress CMS has truly simplified web design and web development for web users.

This is a great thing for non-technical users that want a website that they can fully manage.

Prior to blogging and the introduction of powerful and simple content management systems, if you needed to get a website for your business, you had to wait until both the web development and web design processes were fully completed. This could mean waiting for weeks, sometimes even months!

WordPress themes helped change all this. In this article, you will learn what themes are, how themes save you money on website development costs, and how themes help you easily customize your WordPress site.

The Evolution Of Web Design

Businesses will benefit from a great change in website design that has been going for a number of years now. If you are a business owner, you may want to learn about this, because it could save your business thousands of dollars on website development or website design costs.

Let’s briefly go over what used to happen before WordPress came along:

First, you would meet with a website developer or designer for a brief. Next, the “web design” had to be discussed and agreed upon. This involved time being spent with a professional web site designer going over things of the web site like the, colors, styles, graphic elements, content, etc.

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

A Newbie's Guide To Themes

(image source:adobe.com)

Only after everything passed testing and was performing the way it was intended to (and looking the way a client had wanted it to look), was the web site considered to have been completed and ready for sign off.

The next step in the evolution of website design was the introduction of “web templating elements”. A web site template allows the design of the website to be worked on separately from the page content. The introduction of template elements helped make the process of building websites faster and resulted in reduced production costs. This also allowed web designers to work with businesses with smaller marketing budgets …

WordPress Themes - An Introduction

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

As more web development agencies started adopting “template-based” websites, web templates started being designed that could provide different custom settings, such as the option to choose different colours, styles, layouts

As websites and web editor software evolved, web templates also began to evolve into website templating ”systems”, which enabled website owners and web developers to control their website’s design aspects.

And then, WordPress was developed and helped to start a new digital publishing revolution …

WordPress 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:

About WordPress Themes

A WordPress theme pushes web template systems one step further.

The WordPress theme system controls and integrates all of the design aspects of the website. It lets you add a “skin” to your site similarly to what a website template system does but it gives you more control over the management and customization of your template features.

As WordPress has explained in its official 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, a unique and revolutionary feature of a WordPress theme is that the way your site displays to site visitors does not affect the management of your content.

Basically, what this means is that a WordPress theme lets you change the look and feel of your website as much and as often as you like without touching your site’s content and all the functionality you’ve built into it. For example, if WP site has been set up for e-commerce, replacing the theme won’t affect the content or the functionality of the website. All e-commerce features, site and plugin settings and product information will remain unaffected, but the site will look completely different.

This is huge! Why?

Because when you use WordPress, you no longer have to spend weeks or months waiting for your website to be completed. You can get your website built quickly and start with any WP theme you want, and then edit the entire look, feel and design of your website in a few seconds, whenever you decide … and as often as you like!

Even better, you can easily replace any theme on your site without requiring web coding skills. Simply pick any theme you want, install it on your website and activate it. WordPress allows you to change your website design and customize elements like headers, layout, style settings and more with just a few mouse clicks …

A Newbie's Guide To Themes

As WordPress is distributed as open source software, professional website design companies can create themes specifically for the WordPress platform using the WP templating system.

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

The WordPress development team maintains a FREE WordPress Theme Directory which gives WordPress users access thousands of excellent WordPress themes at $0 cost …

WP Themes - An Overview

(WordPress.org – WordPress Themes Directory)

As WordPress becomes more popular, more designers are now focused on developing themes for a wider range of applications.

WP themes vary from minimal-looking, to designs that are quite breathtaking and would typically cost hundreds to many thousands of dollars to develop. Surprisingly, WordPress themes can be purchased fairly inexpensively, especially when compared to what it would have cost you if a website designer had to code it from scratch.

You can see a number of WordPress theme galleries that include stunning examples of great WordPress themes here:

Browse Thousands Of FREE WordPress Themes!

(Browse Thousands Of FREE WordPress Themes!)

WP Themes – Benefits And Advantages

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

Ready To Go To Work In Minutes

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

WP Themes - An Introduction

Additionally …

  • WordPress has a thriving community of commercial website designers who make thousands of great WordPress Themes available to WordPress users. And many of these themes are completely free to use!
  • Themes give sites a consistent look across all the blog’s elements, i.e. pages, headers, footers, layout, etc …
  • A “theme” works independently of your digital content. This makes it possible to replace the “look and feel” of your website as often as you like without changing the site information.
  • Many themes come with additional functionality and settings that let you easily customize your site’s layout and design elements and create a unique look to suit your preferences.
  • Many WP themes are built using a framework that enables users to upgrade the theme to newer versions without losing any customizations (e.g. styles)
  • WordPress lets you search, upload, install and update WordPress Themes automatically inside your dashboard.
  • Themes allow users to save hundreds of dollars on web design costs. Free WP themes cost nothing and most “Premium”themes are typically quite inexpensive.

Responsive WP Themes

Many theme developers are now developing “responsive” WP themes.

A responsive theme allows websites to automatically readjust screen size to display smoothly across different monitor sizes and screen resolutions, as well as across different devices (e.g. laptops, iPads, mobile phones, etc.) …

Themes - An Introduction

Responsive themes are also optimized for each device type. Users can navigate, read and display the site on most if not all device browsers without having to resize anything, or requiring the website owner to have installed additional display elements.

Note: When searching for WordPress themes, we recommend choosing a responsive WordPress theme. Not only will the theme ensure that your website displays well on your visitors’ devices, it also means that the theme is newer than most non-responsive themes and therefore probably complies with the latest standards and practices of website design and web coding.

We hope that this overview has helped you gain a better understanding about themes, what themes are, how themes help you save money, and how WordPress themes allow you to easily customize your website.

To learn where to search for great themes for your blog, go here:


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Originally published as WordPress Themes Explained.