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.

Understanding WordPress ThemesAdvanced web site publishing platforms like the WordPress Content Management System (CMS) have truly improved web design and web development for anyone wanting to start a website.

This is a great thing for entrepreneurial-minded people thinking about starting a website that is relatively simple and easy to manage.

Before blogging and the development of powerful and simple CMS tools, if you wanted to build a web site for your business, you typically would have to wait until both the web development and web design processes were completely done. This process could mean waiting around for weeks, sometimes even many months!

WordPress themes helped change all this. In this blog post, you will learn what WordPress themes are, how they can help you save money, and how themes help you easily customize your website.

Website Design Revolution

More website owners have benefited from a tremendous change in website design that has been going for many years now. If you are a small business owner, you may want to know about this, because it can save you a lot of time and money on website development or web design costs.

In a nutshell, here’s how things worked in “traditional” web design before WordPress came along:

The first step would be to discuss your requirements with a web site development company or designer. After that, the actual “web design” itself had to be decided upon. This meant time being spent with someone with web site design skills going over things of the web site like the, colors, styles, visual elements, content, etc.

Every page of your web site then had to be hand-coded with all the design elements and codes scripted into the page content. All pages were then assembled into a website using hyperlinks and navigation menus and uploaded to your server, along with all other files required to make your website work – script libraries, images, media, etc.

Themes - An Overview

(image source:adobe.com)

Only after everything had been tested and functioned how it was intended to (and looking how a client had wanted it to look), was the site deemed to be finished and ready to go live.

The next stage in the evolution of business website design was the introduction of “web templating elements”. Web templates allow design elements of the website to be created separately from the page content. Having template elements helped to speed up the web creation process and resulted in lowered production costs. This also enabled website development firms to work with businesses and clients with less money to spend on marketing …

A Basic Guide To Understanding Themes

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

As more small businesses started adopting “template-based” websites, web templates were created that could provide a range of customization features and options, such as the option to switch colors, styles, layouts

As websites and web editing applications evolved, website templates also started transforming into website template “systems” that permit website owners and web designers to control their web site’s visual components.

And then, a “blogging” application called WordPress was introduced and helped to start a new website revolution …

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:

About WordPress Themes

A WordPress theme drives web template systems further.

The WP theme system controls every aspect of your web site design. It allows you to add a “skin” to your entire site in a similar way that a template system does but it gives you more control over the management, appearance and customization of template features.

As WordPress states 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, one of the unique features of a WordPress theme is that the way your website appears to site visitors is controlled independently of the management of your content.

Basically, what this means is that a WordPress theme lets you change the appearance of your site as often as you want without modifying your site’s content and all the work you’ve put into it. For example, if you have configured WordPress site for e-commerce, changing the entire look of your site with another 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 your site will look completely different.

Why is this such a big deal?

Because with WordPress, you no longer have to wait until your website’s design is done. You can get your business website built simply and get started with any WordPress theme you want, and modify the entire look, feel and design of your site in a few seconds, whenever you decide … and as often as you like!

Even better, you can easily install a theme on your WordPress site with no web code programming skills necessary. Just choose any WordPress theme you want, install it on your site and activate it. WordPress lets you change your site’s design and modify elements like header images, page layout, styling options and more in a few seconds …

Themes - An Introduction

Since WordPress is open source software, professional web design companies can create themes specifically for the WP CMS platform using the WP template system.

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

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

A Basic Guide To WordPress Themes

(WordPress.org – WordPress Themes Directory)

As WordPress becomes more popular, more designers are now focusing on creating themes for a wider audience of web users.

Themes range from corporate-looking, to stylish designs that are quite impressive and could typically cost hundreds to thousands of dollars to design. Surprisingly, most premium themes are really inexpensive.

You can see several WP theme galleries containing various examples of great themes here:

Benefits & Advantages Of Using Themes

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

Easy Installation

Themes are really easy to install on your site. Simply upload a zip folder that contains the plugin to your Plugins folder via your administrator section and activate. Even easier still, you can install any of the themes listed in the themes repository at WordPress.org) directly from your WordPress admin’s “Theme” section.

WordPress Themes - An Introduction

Additionally …

  • WordPress has a growing community of commercial web developers who, collectively, make thousands of fantastic WordPress Themes available to users. And many of these themes are 100% free to use!
  • Themes give sites a consistent look across all the site’s elements, i.e. pages, headers, footers, layout, etc …
  • A “theme” works independently of your digital content. This allows you replace WP themes as often as you like without modifying the site’s settings.
  • Many WordPress themes provide additional features and settings that allow you to easily customize the theme’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 a newer theme version without losing any unique customizations (e.g. CSS styles)
  • WordPress allows you to search, upload, install and update WordPress Themes automatically within your admin panel.
  • WordPress themes lets you save hundreds, even thousands of dollars on website development costs. Free themes cost nothing and most “Premium”WordPress themes are normally very inexpensive.

About Responsive Themes

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

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

Understanding Themes

A responsive theme is also optimized for each platform. Users can scroll, read and display your site on various device platforms without having to resize anything, or requiring the website owner to install additional display elements.

Note: When searching for WordPress themes, it’s a good idea to choose a responsive WordPress theme. Not only will a responsive theme ensure that your website will work correctly on your visitors’ devices, but it also means that the theme is newer than non-responsive themes and therefore probably complies with the latest standards and practices of web design.

Hopefully, the above article has provided you with a good overview of WordPress themes, what WordPress themes are, how themes can help you save money on website design costs, and how themes make it easy to customize a website.

In the next blog post on basic WP features, we show you where to search for great themes for your website.

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"This is AMAZING! I had learnt about how to use WordPress previously, but this covers absolutely everything and more!! Incredible value! Thank you!" - Monique, Warrior Forum

Disclaimer: We have no direct association with WordPress or any of the WordPress-related products mentioned or reviewed on this website. We may derive affiliate commissions from sales of products advertised, endorsed or linked to our website. All images and descriptions sourced from product websites remain the copyright of their respective owners and comply with all license terms and agreements of use to the best of our knowledge.

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Author: Martin Aranovitch

Martin Aranovitch is the founder of WPCompendium.org and the author of The Small Business Digital Manager. WPCompendium.org provides hundreds of FREE detailed step-by-step tutorials that will teach you how to use WordPress to grow your business online at minimal cost with no coding skills required!

Originally published as WordPress Themes Explained.