By now, you’ve likely ran across the phrase WordPress theme and wondered what it means and how it affects your site.
Every single WordPress site has a theme, but many users don’t realise how important they really are.
Themes aren’t just about the layout, but the entire function of the site. With literally thousands to choose from, it’s important to understand the function of themes and the best places to find one for your own site.
WordPress Themes Explained
In its most basic sense, a theme serves as the layout and design for a WordPress site. It affects the layout, color scheme, fonts, post types and much more. The theme is used to modify the design without interfering with the WordPress software. This allows you to change how your site looks without needing to edit the core software of the site.
Themes are actually a collection of different files that work together to create a graphical interface for the site. Not only does it affect the look, but the function as well. Themes may contain style sheets, customised templates, custom pages and post types and background images. The only real limitations of a theme come from the designer and how a user chooses to use the theme.
Understanding Theme Frameworks
Some themes start from a theme framework. These frameworks serve as the basis for other themes. Many WordPress developers start with a framework and develop child themes around it. While these can technically be used as a theme on their own, they might not have many of the style elements, such as CSS, to make an aesthetically pleasing website. When searching for themes, you may see common frameworks listed as the basis for a theme such as Genesis, WP Framework, Thematic and WP Canvas.
Using a theme means installing the code into your website. The exact instructions vary based on the WordPress theme you choose. You should always follow the instructions provided by the developer if possible. You can install, manage and edit themes at any time through your WordPress administration panel. Choose Appearance and select Themes. Once installed, you’ll need to select the theme in order to set it as active.
Installing a new theme isn’t always a simple process. If the theme features new elements or doesn’t have the same elements as your previous theme, you may need to rework the content on your site to better fit the new layout. To make the process as simple as possible, only use premium WordPress themes with clear installation instructions or hire a professional WordPress developer.
Finding a WordPress theme isn’t hard at all. The only difficult part is choosing the right one for your site. Before you pick a theme, consider the following:
- Is support provided with the theme, such as free updates, bug fixes, etc?
- What is the purpose of your site?
- Is it easy to modify certain elements of the theme such as the color scheme?
- What features does the theme have?
- Are there any examples or demos to view?
One thing to remember is you can change your theme at any time. For best results, choose a flexible theme that allows you to change various parts of the layout, colors, pages and posts. This will help the theme grow with your website.
The next choice you have to make is between free, premium and custom themes. Free themes are sometimes dangerous and have limited features. Use caution when using a free theme as some sites embed malware into the theme which can infect not only your own computer, but visitors’ computers as well.
Most businesses and even individuals opt for premium or custom themes. These themes have more features, no viruses, are SEO optimised, better interfaces and offer overall higher quality. The price is usually extremely affordable and your site looks better as a result.
When you’re ready to find a theme, some of the best places to try are:
- WordPress.org – The site is a reliable source of thousands of free WordPress themes.
- ThemeForest – The site contains over four thousand premium WordPress themes and templates.
- ElegantThemes – The site contains less than 100 premium themes, but each is well designed.
- StudioPress – The site contains feature rich premium themes.
- MyThemeShop – The site features numerous responsive, premium themes.
While these aren’t the only sources, these do provide a wide array of options for all types of businesses. To get the best possible theme for your site, a WordPress developer is the best choice. They’ll work with you to custom design a theme with all the features you need.
No matter what theme you choose, take the time to explore the features to the most from the theme and create a stunning WordPress site for your visitors.
Image: April Spreeman