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.

For a white label version of this tutorial visit WPTrainingManual.com.

WP For Beginners - An Overview Of WordPress ThemesFlexible web site management systems like the WordPress Content Management System (CMS) have truly improved web design and web development for anyone wanting to start a website.

This is great news for businesses planning to start a website that they can easily manage.

Prior to blogging and the introduction of advanced CMS software, if you needed to get a professional site for your business, you typically had to wait until both the website development and web design processes were completely done. This could mean waiting for many weeks, even many months!

WordPress themes have changed all this. In this article, we take a look at what themes are, how themes help you and your business save money on web development costs, and how WordPress themes let you easily customize your website.

A Revolution In Web Site Design

Website owners will benefit from a revolution in web design that started several years ago. If you are a business owner, you may want to learn more about this, because it can save your business a lot of time and money on website development or website design costs.

Let’s take a look at how things worked in “traditional” web design before WordPress came along:

First, you would discuss your requirements with a website development agency or web designer. After that, the “web design” itself had to be discussed and agreed upon. This required spending time with a professional web designer going over design elements of your website like the layout, colors, formats, graphic elements, content, etc.

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

Understanding WP Themes

(image source:adobe.com)

Only after everything had been tested and worked the way it should (and looking how the client had imagined it to look), was the website deemed to be finished and ready for delivery.

Then, website “templates” were introduced”. A web template allows design elements of the web site to be created separately from the page content. The development of templates helped speed up the process of developing web sites and resulted in reduced costs of production. This also allowed website developers and designers to expand their services to include businesses and clients with less money to spend …

Themes - An Overview

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

As more small businesses began adopting “template-based” web design services, web templates were designed that could provide clients with expanding customizable options, such as the ability to switch colors, styles, layouts

As web sites and website building applications developed, web templates also started to evolve into web templating ”systems”, which permitted website owners to control the visual aspects of their website.

Then, a “blogging” application called WordPress came along and helped to start a new business website revolution …

A Newbie's Guide To Themes

(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 expands the concept of a website templating system further.

The WP theme system controls the design aspects of a website. It allows you to add a “skin” over your entire site similarly to what a template system does but it also also gives you more control over the management, appearance and ability to customize all template settings.

As stated in the official WordPress 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 and revolutionary feature of WordPress is that the way your website appears to visitors externally is kept independent of the management of your content.

In simple terms, what this means is that a WordPress theme lets you modify the design of your website as often as you want without touching your website’s content and all the functionality you’ve built into it. For example, if WordPress website has been configured for e-commerce, replacing the theme won’t affect the content or the functionality of the web site. All e-commerce features, site settings and product information will remain unaffected, but the site will look completely different.

Why is this such great news for small business owners?

Because when you use WordPress, you no longer have to spend weeks or months waiting for your site to be done. You can get your website built simply and start with any WordPress theme you like, and completely modify the look, feel and design of your website in a few minutes, whenever you decide … and as many times as you like!

Even better, you can easily install a theme on your WordPress site without having web design skills. Simply choose a WP theme you want, install it on your site and activate it. WordPress lets you change your website design and modify elements like headers, page layout, styling options and more in a few seconds …

Themes - An Introduction

Because WordPress is made available as open source software, web designers can create themes specifically for the WP CMS platform using the WP templating system.

This means that thousands of great WordPress themes can be downloaded by WordPress users. Themes are normally distributed as Free Software under the terms of the GNU General Public License Definition, or they can be purchased as Premium (paid) WP themes.

The WordPress team keeps a FREE directory of WordPress themes which allows WordPress users to access thousands of excellent WordPress themes at $0 cost …

A Basic Guide To Understanding Themes

(WordPress.org – Themes Directory)

As the popularity of WordPress increases, more designers are now starting to develop themes for a wider audience of web users.

WordPress themes vary from corporate-looking, to fancy designs that are impressive and would typically cost hundreds to many thousands of dollars to design. Surprisingly, WordPress themes can be purchased very cheaply, especially when compared to what you would have been charged if a web designer had to code it from scratch.

You can view several WP theme galleries that include various examples of WP themes here:

Browse Thousands Of FREE WordPress Themes!

(Browse Thousands Of FREE WordPress Themes!)

Benefits And Advantages Of Using Themes

Here are just a few of the benefits of using WordPress themes over using web development applications that require traditional website design:

Be Up And Running In Minutes

WordPress themes are quite easy to install on your site. Simply upload a zip file that contains the plugin files to your Plugins folder via your dashboard and activate. Even easier still, you can install any of the themes listed in the theme repository at WordPress.org) directly from your WordPress dashboard.

Themes - An Introduction


  • WordPress has a thriving online community of commercial website developers who, collectively, make thousands of professional WP Themes available to 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 site’s content. This means you can replace the “look and feel” of your website as often as you want without affecting your blog information.
  • Many WP themes come with built-in functionality and settings that allow you to customize your site’s style, layout and design elements to create a unique look to suit your business.
  • Many WP themes are built using a framework that enables you to update themes to a newer theme version without losing any customizations (e.g. CSS styles)
  • WordPress lets you search, upload and install WordPress Themes automatically within your admin panel.
  • Themes allow users to save hundreds of dollars on web development costs. Free themes cost nothing and most “Premium”themes are normally very inexpensive.

Responsive Theme Design

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

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

Understanding WP Themes

Responsive themes are also optimized for each platform. Users can navigate, read and load a site on a range of device platforms without having to readjust their browser settings, or requiring website owners to install additional browser tools.

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 the content and layout of your site will display correctly across all 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 web design and web coding.

We hope this overview has helped you gain a better understanding about WP themes, what WP themes are, how themes can help your business save money on website design costs, and how themes allow you to easily customize a website.

In our next article in our article WordPress beginners on basic features and functionality of WordPress, we show you where to search for the best themes for your website or blog.


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For a white label version of this tutorial visit WPTrainingManual.com.
Originally published as WordPress Themes Explained.