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 For Business - An Overview Of ThemesThe introduction of web publishing applications like the WordPress Content Management System (CMS) has truly improved web design and web development for web users.

This is a great thing for business owners that want to own a website that they can fully manage.

Prior to “blogging” and the introduction of powerful content management systems, if you wanted a business site, you would have to wait until both the web development and website design processes were completely done. This process could mean weeks, even sometimes many months of waiting!

The development of WordPress themes have changed all this. In this post, you will learn what WP themes are, how WP themes save you money on website design costs, and how WP themes allow you to easily customize your site.

Web Site Design Evolution

Businesses are benefiting from a change 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 could save your business thousands of dollars on web development and web design costs.

Let’s briefly take a look at what happened before solutions like WordPress were introduced:

First, you would meet with a website developer or designer for a brief. After that, the design of your website itself had to be discussed and agreed upon. This involved spending time with someone with web design skills going over elements of the website such as the layout, colours, styles, visual elements, content, etc.

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

Understanding WP Themes

(image source:adobe.com)

Only once everything had been tested and functioned the way it was supposed to (and looking the way a client had wanted it to look), was the website considered to have been finished and ready for delivery.

The next step in the evolution of business web design was the introduction of “website templating elements”. A web template allows ”look and feel” elements of the website to be worked on separately from the page content. The introduction of templates helped to speed up the web site creation process and resulted in lowered production costs. This also allowed website development firms to service smaller business clients with smaller marketing budgets …

WordPress Themes - An Overview

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

As the number of web site development firms adopting “template-based” web design services increased, templates started being developed that could provide clients with a number of custom settings, such as color palettes, the ability to pick different page layouts and styles, etc …

As websites and web editor tools evolved, web templates also started transforming into web templating ”systems”, letting website owners manage their web site’s design aspects.

Then, WordPress came along and helped to kick off a new website revolution …

A Newbie's Guide To Understanding Themes

(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 expand the idea of a website template system further.

A WordPress theme controls all of the design areas of your web site. It lets you add a “skin” to your site in a similar way that a template system does but it also also gives you complete control over the management and customization of your template features.

As WordPress has explained in its official web 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 features of WordPress is that how your website displays to visitors on the outside does not affect how your content is managed.

In simple terms, what this means is that a WordPress theme lets you modify the appearance of your website as often as you like without affecting your website’s content and all the work you’ve put into it. For example, if you have set up WP site for e-commerce, replacing the theme won’t affect the content or the functionality of your site. All e-commerce features, site and plugin settings and product information will remain unaffected, but your site will look completely different.

This is huge! Why?

Because when your website is built with WordPress, you no longer need to spend weeks or months waiting for your website to be completed. You can get your website built quickly and get started with any theme you want, and then change the entire look, feel and design of your WordPress site in mere seconds, whenever you choose … and as many times as you like!

Even better, you can easily install a theme on your site without needing website code programming knowledge. Simply pick a WP theme you like, upload it to your site and activate it. WordPress lets you change your entire site’s web design and customize elements like headers, page layout, style settings and more in a few seconds …

Themes - An Introduction

As WordPress is distributed as open source software, commercial web design companies all around the world can create themes specifically for the WP CMS platform using the WordPress templating system.

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

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

Themes - An Introduction

(WordPress.org – Free Theme Directory)

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

WordPress themes range from corporate-looking, to designs that are breathtaking and would easily cost many hundreds of dollars to create. Surprisingly, most themes are really inexpensive.

You can view a number of WP theme galleries that include many examples of WordPress themes here:

Browse Thousands Of FREE WordPress Themes!

(Browse Thousands Of FREE WordPress Themes!)

WordPress Themes – Benefits And Advantages

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

Fast Installation

WP themes are very easy to install on your site. Just upload a zip folder that contains the plugin files to your Plugins folder via your WordPress dashboard and activate. Even easier still, you can install any of the themes listed in the WP themes directory at WordPress.org) directly from within your WordPress admin’s “Theme” section.

A Newbie's Guide To WP Themes


  • WordPress has a growing community of professional website developers who, collectively, make thousands of high quality WordPress Themes available to users. And many of these themes are 100% free to use!
  • Themes give sites a unified and consistent look across all the blog’s elements, i.e. pages, headers, footers, layouts, etc …
  • A “theme” works independently of your digital content. This makes it possible to replace the “look and feel” of your templates as often as you like without disturbing the site’s underlying information.
  • Many WordPress themes come with additional built-in functionality and settings that enable you to customize the site’s layout and design elements and create a unique look to suit your needs.
  • Many themes are built using a framework that lets users update themes to newer versions without losing any unique customizations (e.g. CSS styles)
  • WordPress lets you search, import, install and update WordPress Themes automatically within the admin panel.
  • Themes lets you save hundreds, even thousands of dollars on website design costs. Free themes cost nothing and most “Premium”themes are typically quite affordable.

Responsive WordPress Themes

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

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

A Basic Guide To Themes

A responsive theme is also optimized for each platform. Users can navigate, read and load a site on various device browsers without having to readjust their browser settings, or requiring website owners to have installed additional display elements.

Note: When purchasing WordPress themes, it’s a good idea to choose a responsive WordPress theme. Not only will a responsive theme ensure that your website works across your visitors’ devices, it also means that the theme is newer than non-responsive themes and therefore should comply with the latest standards of web design.

Hopefully, the above article has provided you with a better overview of WordPress themes, what WP themes are, how themes help your business save money, and how WordPress themes make customizing sites easy.

To learn where to search for great WordPress themes for your website or blog, visit this post: Finding The Best Free And Paid WordPress Templates For Your Business.


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Originally published as WordPress Themes Explained.