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 ThemesFlexible content management systems like the WordPress CMS platform have effectively improved web design and web development for website owners.

This is great news for business owners planning to build a website that is relatively simple, easy and inexpensive to manage.

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

WordPress themes have changed all this. In this blog post, you will learn what themes are, how WordPress themes help you and your business save money on web development costs, and how WP themes help you easily customize your WP site.

Website Design Evolution

More businesses will benefit from a great change in website design that has been going for a number of years now. If you own a business, you may want to know more about this, because it could save your business a lot of time and money on web development or web design costs.

Very briefly, this is what used to happen before CMS solutions like WordPress were introduced:

First, you would discuss your requirements with a website developer or designer. After this, the actual “web design” would be discussed and agreed upon. This involved spending time with a professional web designer discussing design elements of your web site like the, colours, formats, graphic elements, content, etc.

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

A Basic Guide To Understanding Themes

(image source:adobe.com)

Only after everything had been tested and functioned the way it was supposed to (and looking how a client had imagined it to look), was the website deemed to be completed and ready for delivery.

Then, web design “templates” were developed”. A web template allows the ”look and feel” of the web site to be worked on separately from content on the page. Having ready-made templates helped speed up the web site creation process and resulted in lowered costs of production. This also allowed web development companies to service small business clients 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 using “template-based” websites, web templates were introduced that offered a number of custom features and options, like the ability to choose different colors, styles, layouts

As web sites and website editor applications evolved, web templates also began transforming into website template “systems” that let users and web designers control their site’s visual components.

And then, a “blogging” tool called WordPress came along and helped to kick off a new business website revolution …

WP Themes - An Introduction

(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 push web template systems much further.

The WP theme system controls every aspect of your site’s design. It allows you to add a “skin” to your site similarly to what a website template system does but it also also gives you complete control over the management, appearance and ability to customize template features.

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 and revolutionary features of WordPress is that how your site appears to visitors externally does not affect your site’s functionality and content management.

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

Why is this important?

Because when you use WordPress, you no longer have to wait until your site’s web design is completed. You can get your website built quickly and start with any theme you want, and then completely change 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 WordPress site without needing any web code development skills. Just choose any WP theme you want, install it on your website and activate it. WordPress allows you to change your site’s design and customize elements like header images, page layout, style settings and more in a few seconds …

WP Themes - An Overview

As WordPress is open source software, thousands of web designers can create themes specifically for the WP CMS platform using the WordPress templating system.

This means that loads of high quality WP themes are made available to WordPress users. WP are normally distributed for Free under the terms of the GNU License Definition, or sold as Premium (paid) themes.

The WordPress development team keeps a FREE theme directory which gives WordPress users access thousands of excellent web templates completely free of charge …

Understanding Themes

(WordPress.org – Free Theme Directory)

As more users turn to WordPress for publishing and managing their digital presence, more designers are now starting to develop themes for a wider audience of web users.

Themes range from professional-looking, to designs that are stunning and could easily cost thousands of dollars to commission. Surprisingly, WordPress themes can be bought fairly cheaply, especially when compared to what you would have had to pay if a web designer had to build it from scratch.

You can see several WordPress theme galleries that include many examples of great premium WP themes in this page:

Browse Thousands Of FREE WordPress Themes!

(Browse Thousands Of FREE WordPress Themes!)

Themes – Benefits

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

Ready To Use In Minutes

WordPress themes are really easy to install on your site. Just upload a zip folder containing the plugin to your Plugin folder via your WP dashboard and activate. Even easier still, you can install any of the themes listed in the WP themes repository at WordPress.org) directly from your WP dashboard.

Understanding Themes

Additionally …

  • WordPress has a growing community of professional web developers who, collectively, make thousands of excellent WordPress Themes available to WP users. Many of these themes are 100% free to use!
  • Themes give sites a unified and consistent “look and feel” across all of the site’s elements, i.e. pages, headers, footers, menus, etc …
  • A “theme” works independently of your digital content. This makes it possible to change WordPress themes as often as you want without affecting the site’s underlying information.
  • Many WordPress themes come with built-in features and settings that let you easily customize the theme’s layout, style and design properties and create a unique look to suit your needs.
  • Many themes are built using a framework that enables users to upgrade themes to a newer theme version without losing any unique customizations (e.g. styles)
  • WordPress allows you to search, upload and install WordPress Themes automatically directly from your dashboard.
  • WordPress themes allow WP users to save hundreds of dollars on web development costs. Free themes cost nothing and most “Premium”WP themes are typically quite inexpensive.

Responsive WordPress Themes

Many theme developers are now developing “responsive” WordPress themes.

A responsive theme enables a website to automatically resize to display smoothly over different monitor sizes and screen resolutions, as well as across different devices (e.g. PCs, iPads, cell phones, etc.) …

Themes - An Overview

A responsive theme is also optimized for different platforms. Users can scroll, read and display the site on a range of devices without having to resize anything, or requiring the website owner to install additional browser tools.

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

We hope this post has given you a good understanding of WordPress themes, what themes are, how they can help you and your business save money, and how themes make customizing sites easy.

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


"I have used the tutorials to teach all of my clients and it has probably never been so easy for everyone to learn WordPress ... Now I don't need to buy all these very expensive video courses that often don't deliver what they promise." - Stefan Wendt, Internet Marketing Success Group


Originally published as WordPress Themes Explained.