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 Introduction To WP ThemesThe introduction of web site management technologies like WordPress has truly simplified web design and web development for website owners.

This is a great thing for businesses planning to start a digital presence that is relatively simple, easy and inexpensive to manage.

Before blogging and the introduction of sophisticated CMS solutions, if you needed a professional website, you had to wait until both the web development and web design processes were completely done. This process could mean weeks, even sometimes months of waiting around!

The development of WordPress themes helped change all this. In this article, you will learn what themes are, how WordPress themes save you and your business money on website design costs, and how themes make it easy to customize your website.

Web Design Revolution

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

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

First, you would discuss your project with a web site development agency or designer. After this, the actual design of your site would be decided upon. This required spending time with a professional web designer discussing things of your web site like the layout, colours, styles, graphic elements, content, etc.

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

Understanding Themes

(image source:adobe.com)

Only after everything passed testing and was functioning the way it should (and looking how a client had imagined it to look), was the website deemed as being finished and ready to go live.

The next stage in the evolution of website design was the introduction of “web templates”. A web site template allows presentation elements of the website to be created separately from content on the page. Having templates helped speed up the website development process and resulted in reduced production costs. This also allowed web site development companies to expand their services to include small businesses with smaller budgets …

WP Themes - An Introduction

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

As the number of businesses using “template-based” web design services increased, templates were introduced that provided clients with expanding customization features, like colour palettes, the ability to select different formats or page layouts, etc …

As websites and web editor software developed, web templates also began transforming into web templating ”systems”, letting users customize their site’s design elements.

Then, WordPress came along and helped to start a new web revolution …

Themes - An Overview

(WordPress – A Content Publishing Revolution)

help To learn more about content management systems and the benefits of the WordPress CMS, see the tutorial below:

redarrow Benefits Of Using WordPress As A Content Management System (CMS)

About WordPress Themes

A WordPress theme takes the idea of a website templating system even further.

A WP theme controls every aspect of your website design. It allows you to add a “skin” over your site much like a template system does but it gives you more control over the management, appearance and customization aspects of the site’s template options.

As the official WordPress site states …

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, one of the unique features of a WordPress theme is that the way your website appears to site visitors is controlled separately from how your site works internally to handle areas like content management and functionality.

In plain English terms, what this means is that you can change the appearance of your website as often as you like without affecting your site’s content and all the functionality you’ve built into it. For example, if WordPress site has been configured 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.

Why is this great for businesses?

Because when you use WordPress, you no longer need to spend weeks or months waiting for your web design to be done. You can get your business website built simply and get started with any WordPress theme you like, and completely modify the look, feel and design of your site in a few seconds, whenever you choose … and as often as you like!

Even better, you can easily install a theme on your site with no web code programming knowledge required. Just choose any WordPress theme you want, install it on your website and activate it. WordPress allows you to change your entire site’s web design and customize elements like header images, layout, typography and more in a few seconds …

A Basic Guide To Themes

Since WordPress is made available as open source software, web design companies can design themes specifically for the WordPress CMS platform using the WP templating system.

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

The WordPress team maintains a FREE directory of WordPress themes which gives WordPress users access thousands of excellent WP themes for free …

Understanding Themes

(WordPress.org – WordPress Themes Directory)

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

WordPress themes vary from functional-looking, to designs that are visually breathtaking and would normally cost thousands of dollars to develop. Surprisingly, most premium WP themes are fairly inexpensive to purchase.

You can view a number of WordPress theme galleries containing many examples of great premium themes in this page: Finding Great Free And Paid WordPress Web Themes On The Web

Benefits & Advantages Of Using WordPress Themes

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

Be Up And Running In Very Little Time

WP themes are very easy to install on your site. Just upload it to your Plugin folder via your WP admin user area and activate. Even easier still, you can install any of the themes listed in the WordPress themes directory at WordPress.org) directly from within your WordPress admin’s “Theme” section.

Understanding WordPress Themes


  • WordPress has a large community of commercial website designers and design companies who make thousands of professional WordPress Themes available to WordPress users. Thousands of these themes are completely free to use!
  • Themes give sites a unified and consistent “look and feel” across all of the site’s elements, like pages, headers, footers, menus, etc …
  • A “theme” works independently of your website’s content. This means you can change themes as often as you need without affecting the site data.
  • Many WP themes provide additional built-in functionality and settings that allow you to easily customize your theme’s style and design elements to create a unique look to suit your taste.
  • Many themes are built using a framework that allows you to update themes to newer versions without losing any unique customizations (e.g. styles)
  • WordPress lets you search, upload and install WordPress Themes automatically inside the site’s administration interface.
  • WordPress themes allow WordPress users to save hundreds, even thousands of dollars on website design costs. Free WP themes cost nothing and most “Premium”themes are typically very inexpensive.

About Responsive WP Themes

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

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

A Newbie's Guide To Understanding WP Themes

A responsive theme is also optimized for different platforms. Users can navigate, read and display the site on different devices without having to resize anything, or requiring website owners to have installed additional display elements.

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

We hope the above article has provided you with a better understanding of themes, what themes are, how they can help you save money, and how WP themes allow you to easily customize your site.

To learn where to find great WP themes for your website or blog, go here: Finding Great Free And Premium Responsive WordPress Web Themes On The Net.


"This is an awesome training series. I have a pretty good understanding of WordPress already, but this is helping me to move somewhere from intermediate to advanced user!" - Kim Lednum

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Author: Martin Aranovitch

WPCompendium.org provides hundreds of FREE WordPress tutorials for beginners. Our detailed step-by-step tutorials will save you money and teach you how to start, manage, and grow a website or blog using WordPress that puts you in complete control and delivers results with no coding skills required!