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 Newbies - An Overview Of WordPress ThemesThe introduction of website management applications like WordPress has truly simplified web design and web development for web users.

This greatly benefits businesses planning to start or build a website that is simple, easy and inexpensive to manage.

Before “blogging” and the introduction of powerful CMS applications, if you wanted to get a professional site built for your business, you normally had to wait until both the website development and web design processes were fully completed. This could mean weeks, sometimes even months of waiting for the work to be done!

The introduction of WordPress themes have changed all this. In this article, you will learn what WordPress themes are, how they can help you and your business save money on website design costs, and how themes help you easily customize your WP site.

Website Design Revolution

Businesses, especially small businesses, will benefit from an evolution in website design that began shortly after websites were first introduced. If you are a business owner, you may want to learn about this, because it can save your business thousands of dollars on web development and web design costs.

Very briefly, this is what normally happened before WordPress were introduced:

First, you would discuss your requirements with a web developer or designer. After this, the design itself would be decided upon. This meant time being spent with someone with web site design skills going over design elements of your site like the, colours, formats, page elements, content, etc.

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

Themes - An Overview

(image source:adobe.com)

Only once everything had been tested and performed the way it was intended to (and looking how the client had imagined it to look), was the website considered to be completed and ready for delivery.

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

WordPress Themes - An Introduction

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

As more web development firms started adopting “template-based” websites, web templates were developed to offer clients with a number of customizable options, such as the ability to switch colors, styles, layouts

As web sites and web building applications developed, web templates also began evolving into website templating ”systems”, which enabled users to customize the visual elements of a web site.

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

Themes - An Overview

(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 takes the concept of a website templating system one step further.

The WordPress theme system controls and integrates every aspect of your web design. It lets you add a “skin” to your site in a similar way that a web template system does but it also also provides users with complete control over the management and customization of template options.

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 quote states, a unique feature of WordPress is that the way your site looks to visitors on the outside is managed independently of your site’s content management aspects.

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

This is important. Why?

Because with WordPress, you no longer have to spend weeks or months waiting for your website to be completed. You can get your business website built quickly and get started with any WordPress theme you want, and completely customize the look, feel and design of your WordPress site in a few minutes, whenever you choose … and as often as you like!

Even better, you can easily install a theme on your WP site without requiring any web coding knowledge. Just choose a theme you like, upload it to your site and activate it. WordPress allows you to change your entire site’s web design and modify elements like headers, layout, typography and more with just a couple of mouse clicks …

Understanding Themes

Since WordPress is made available as open source software, web design companies anywhere in the world can design themes specifically for the WordPress platform using the WP template system.

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

The WordPress development team keeps a FREE theme directory which gives WordPress users access thousands of great WordPress themes completely free of charge …

A Newbie's Guide To Themes

(WordPress.org – WP Themes Directory)

As the popularity of WordPress increases, more designers are now focusing on developing themes for a wider range of applications.

WordPress themes vary from simple-looking, to exciting designs that are beautiful and would easily cost many hundreds of dollars to commission. Surprisingly, most themes are quite inexpensive to buy.

You can see a number of theme galleries that include many examples of themes in this post:

Browse Thousands Of FREE WordPress Themes!

(Browse Thousands Of FREE WordPress Themes!)

Themes – Benefits

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

Ready To Go To Work In Minutes

WP themes are quite easy to install on your site. Simply upload the plugin file to your Plugin folder via your WordPress admin user section 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 WP site’s admin area.

Understanding WP Themes


  • WordPress has a large online community of commercial theme developers and development companies who make thousands of professional WP Themes available to users. Many of these themes are completely free to use!
  • Themes give sites a consistent design across all your site’s elements, like pages, headers, footers, menus, etc …
  • A “theme” works independently of your blog’s content. This allows you change themes as often as you like without modifying the underlying content.
  • Many themes come with additional features and settings that enable you to customize your site’s layout and design elements and create a unique look to suit your needs.
  • Many themes are built using a framework that allows users to update themes to newer theme versions without losing any customizations (e.g. CSS styles)
  • WordPress lets you search, upload and install WordPress Themes automatically within the dashboard.
  • Themes helps you save hundreds of dollars on website design costs. Free WP themes cost nothing and most “Premium”themes are normally very inexpensive.

Responsive WP Theme Design

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

A responsive theme enables a website to automatically readjust screen size to display smoothly across different screen sizes and resolutions, as well as different devices (e.g. computers, tablets, mobile phones, etc.) …

WordPress Themes - An Introduction

Responsive themes are also optimized for different types of devices. Users can navigate, read and display your site on different device platforms without having to readjust their browser settings, or requiring website owners to have installed additional display elements.

Note: When purchasing WordPress themes, we recommend choosing a responsive WordPress theme. Not only will the theme ensure that the content and layout of your site works across your visitors’ devices, but it also means that the theme is newer than most non-responsive themes and therefore probably complies with the latest standards, practices and techniques of website design.

Hopefully, the above overview has helped you gain a clearer understanding of themes, what WP themes are, how WordPress themes help you save money, and how WP themes make customizing websites easy.

To learn where to find the best themes for your website or blog, click here:


"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 owner of WPCompendium.org and the author of The WordPress User Manual. WPCompendium.org provides hundreds of FREE tutorials that show you how to use WordPress to grow your business online with no coding skills required! Get our FREE "101+ WordPress Tips, Tricks & Hacks For Non-Techies" e-course with loads of useful WordPress tips!

Originally published as WordPress Themes Explained.