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.

A Basic Guide To WordPress ThemesPowerful web publishing applications like WordPress have effectively improved web design and web development for business owners.

This greatly benefits businesses thinking about running a digital presence that they can fully manage by themselves.

Before blogging and the introduction of user-friendly content management systems, if you wanted a professional business site, you normally would have to wait until both the website development and web design processes were fully completed. This could take weeks, sometimes even months!

WordPress themes helped change all this. In this post, you will learn what themes are, how themes can help you and your business save money, and how themes make it easy to customize your WP site.

A Revolution In Web Design

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

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

The first step would be to meet with a web development agency or designer for a brief. After that, the “web design” had to be decided upon. This meant spending time with a professional web designer going over design elements of your website like the, colours, formats, graphic elements, content, etc.

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

A Basic Guide To Themes

(image source:adobe.com)

Only after everything had been tested and performed how it was intended to (and looking how a client had wanted it to look), was the site considered to be completed and ready for sign off.

The next step in the evolution of website design was the introduction of “website templating elements”. Web site templates allow the ”look and feel” of the website to be created separately from the page content. The development of ready-made templates helped to speed up the website creation process and resulted in lowered production costs. This also enabled web development companies to work with businesses with smaller marketing budgets …

Themes - An Overview

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

As more web site development agencies began using “template-based” web design services, templates started being designed that offered clients with expanding customization options, such as the ability to switch colors, styles, layouts

As web sites and website editing software developed, website templates also started transforming into web templating “systems” that permitted users to customize the design aspects of their site.

Then, a “blogging” software called WordPress was developed and helped to kick off a new digital publishing revolution …

WordPress 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:

WordPress Themes

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

The WordPress theme system controls and unifies the design elements of your web site. It lets you add a “skin” over your site similarly to what a template system does but it also also gives you complete control over the management and ability to customize the site’s template options.

As WordPress has described in its 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 stated in the quote above, one of the unique and revolutionary features of the WordPress theme is that how your site appears to site visitors externally in no way affects the way your website functions internally to handle areas like content management and functionality.

In plain English terms, what this means is that themes let you modify the appearance of your website as much and as often as you want without affecting your website’s content and all the work you’ve put into it. For example, if your website has been set up for e-commerce, changing the entire look of the site with another theme won’t affect the content or the functionality of your web site. All e-commerce features, settings and product information will remain unaffected, but your site will look completely different.

This is important. Why?

Because when you use WordPress, you no longer have to wait until your website’s design is done. You can get your website built simply and start with any WordPress theme you want, and then completely modify the look, feel and design of your site in a few minutes, whenever you decide … and as many times as you like!

Even better, you can easily replace any theme on your site with no website coding skills necessary. Simply choose any 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 with just a couple of mouse clicks …

A Newbie's Guide To Understanding Themes

As WordPress is made available as open source software, website design companies can design themes specifically for the WordPress platform using the WordPress templating system.

This means that thousands of great WP themes can be downloaded by WordPress users. WP are generally distributed as Free Software under the terms of the GNU License Definition, or sold as Premium (i.e. paid) WordPress themes.

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

Themes - An Introduction

(WordPress.org – WordPress Themes Directory)

As the popularity of WordPress increases, more designers are now starting to create themes for a wider range of uses.

WP themes range from bare-looking, to designs that are simply beautiful and would normally cost many hundreds of dollars to commission. Surprisingly, most premium WP themes are very inexpensive.

You can view several theme galleries that include various examples of great themes in this article:

Browse Thousands Of FREE WordPress Themes!

(Browse Thousands Of FREE WordPress Themes!)

Themes – Benefits

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

Be Up And Running In Minutes

WP themes are quite easy to install on your site. Simply upload it to your Plugin folder via your WP admin user account and activate. Even easier still, you can install any of the themes listed in the themes directory at WordPress.org) directly from your WordPress dashboard.

A Newbie's Guide To Themes


  • WordPress has a large community of commercial web designers and design companies who make thousands of fantastic WP Themes available to users. Many of these themes are 100% free to use!
  • Themes give sites a consistent design across all of your site’s elements, i.e. pages, headers, footers, menus, layout, etc …
  • A “theme” works independently of your web site’s content. This makes it possible to change themes as often as you want without deleting your underlying content of your web site.
  • Many themes come with additional functionality and options that allow you to easily customize your theme’s style, layout and design elements and create a unique look to suit your needs.
  • Many WordPress themes are built using a framework that allows you to upgrade the theme to newer theme versions without losing any customizations (e.g. styles)
  • WordPress allows you to search, upload, install and update WordPress Themes automatically directly from the site’s administration interface.
  • Themes lets you save thousands of dollars on website development costs. Free themes cost nothing and most “Premium”themes are normally quite inexpensive.

Responsive Theme Design

Many WordPress theme developers are now creating themes that incorporate “responsive” functionality.

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

WordPress Themes - An Overview

Responsive themes are also optimized for each device type. Users can navigate, read and display the site on various device platforms without having to resize anything, or requiring the website owner to have installed additional themes.

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

Hopefully, this article has provided you with a better understanding of themes, what themes are, how WP themes can help you save money, and how themes make customizing web sites easy.

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


"If you're new to WordPress, this can stand on its own as a training course and will stay with you as you progress from beginner to advanced and even guru status." - Bruce (Columbus, Ohio)


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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 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.