Last updated on November 28th, 2023 at 04:48 pm
A WordPress theme is a tool to change your WordPress website’s layout and design easily. Themes customize the appearance of your site, including the layout, typography, color, and other design elements.
A WordPress theme is a zipped folder with files, including page templates written in the PHP programming language and some CSS stylesheets.
When you first create a WordPress site, it will come with a default theme installed. You can change the theme in WordPress to match your needs and industry.
Choosing a suitable theme can make your website more attractive, easier to use, and improve visitor engagement.
What Is a WordPress Theme?
A WordPress theme is a collection of template files that determine a WordPress website’s overall look and feel. It controls the design elements, including layout, color scheme, typography, and other visual aspects.
Themes allow users to change the appearance of their WordPress sites without modifying the underlying code. They provide a quick and easy way to customize the design of a website, making it possible to create unique and professional-looking sites without extensive coding knowledge.
Changing your WordPress theme won’t necessarily change your blog content, pages, users, or other information stored in your database. Your theme only changes how all that information is displayed to your website visitors.
Thousands of free and premium WordPress themes are available for you.
Free themes can be downloaded from the official WordPress theme directory, or you can purchase premium themes with more advanced features from third-party developers. You can even create your custom themes for a unique web design accordingly.
Good WordPress Theme
A good WordPress theme is essential for a successful website. Here are the key elements that make an excellent WordPress theme:
- Lightweight and Clean Code: A good WordPress theme should have light and clean code that doesn’t cause conflicts with plugins. This ensures fast loading times and smooth performance.
- Responsive Design: The theme should be responsive, meaning it adapts well to different screen sizes and devices. This is crucial for a great user experience, as many users access websites on mobile devices.
- Customization Options: A quality theme offers customization options, allowing you to adjust colors, fonts, layouts, and more to match your brand or preferences.
- Regular Updates: Themes should be regularly updated to stay compatible with the latest WordPress version and to patch any security vulnerabilities.
- SEO-Friendly: The theme should be built with SEO best practices in mind. This helps your site rank higher in search engine results.
- Good Support: Look for themes from reputable developers or marketplaces that offer good customer support. This can be crucial if you encounter issues or need assistance.
- Compatibility with Plugins: Ensure the theme is compatible with popular WordPress plugins, as they can enhance your site’s functionality.
- Page Speed Optimization: A well-optimized theme contributes to fast page loading times, essential for user experience and SEO.
- Security: Choose a theme with a strong security record to protect your website and data from potential threats.
- User-Friendly Interface: The theme should have an intuitive interface that allows you to manage and update your website’s content easily.
- Good Documentation: Detailed documentation makes setting up and customizing the theme according to your needs more leisurely.
- Demo Content: Some themes provide demo content that can be imported to help you get started quickly.
- A simple, minimalist design that utilizes whitespace properly and eliminates unnecessary clutter.
- Compatibility with the vast majority of popular plugins.
- Settings to adjust branding and design elements like typography and colors.
Also Read: What is WordPress? A Complete guides 2023
Types of Themes To Consider
There are various types of WordPress themes to consider when designing your website. These themes serve different purposes and cater to multiple needs.
The first step is determining if you’d like a multipurpose or niche theme. A multipurpose theme works best for WordPress agencies or those who want the ability to turn the base theme into any design for any industry.
Multipurpose themes are more versatile, but sometimes, they’re not necessary if you already know the niche you’re focusing on.
A niche theme sticks to one industry design, such as a design for an architecture firm or band website. If you select a niche theme, you must choose one based on your industry or functionality desires.
For instance, you can find many themes in the following categories:
- Forums and communities.
- Membership sites.
- Social networks.
- Custom support sites.
- Food and restaurants.
- Hotels and travel.
Other types of themes are:
- Premium Themes:
- Premium themes offer advanced features and customization options. They often come with dedicated support.
- Child Themes:
- Child themes are based on parent themes and allow customization without altering the core theme. They help maintain theme updates and customizations.
- Framework Themes:
- Framework themes provide a solid foundation for building custom themes. Developers often use them as a starting point for highly customized designs.
- Starter Themes:
- Starter themes are minimalistic and lightweight for developers who want to build a theme from scratch. They are ideal for creating entirely custom designs.
- Multipurpose Themes:
- Multipurpose themes are versatile and can be used for various websites, from blogs to business sites.
Determining if you’d like to install a free or premium/paid WordPress theme is essential.
Free themes are available all over the internet, some of which are great while others are junk. Although the same could be said about premium themes, there’s usually more quality control when you pay for a theme.
Opting for a free theme may be the only option if your budget is limited. However, we encourage you to consider a premium WordPress theme at least since the pricing usually isn’t that high.
Primary differences between free and premium themes:
- You can instantly download and install them for free.
- They’re usually much simpler in design and functionality.
- Free themes are written about and reviewed online, so it’s easier to understand how others feel about them. Sometimes, it’s challenging to determine what users think about a premium theme.
- There’s usually a lack of customer support, but free themes typically give you access to a user forum to discuss issues.
- The best free themes are maintained and updated regularly, but developers are not required to do so, making the search process a little tricky.
- Premium themes cost money, usually anywhere from $30 to $150. This is a one-time fee, but sometimes you must pay for extended support and updates.
- They often offer more advanced features that minimize the need for bulky plugins.
- Premium themes often provide high-quality customer support through email and chat instead of only a forum with free themes.
- You can expect consistent security and feature updates from the premium theme developers since their businesses depend on it.
- Another benefit is that premium themes usually have knowledge-based articles to reference.
- Premium theme developers are trying to sell you their product, so it’s essential to understand that some sales copy can be misleading or exaggerated.
From free to premium themes, the internet is a treasure trove of libraries and marketplaces for finding the perfect options.
Also, if you like a website, you can use Kinsta’s free WordPress theme detector tool to find out what a WordPress theme is. Here are some recommendations on places to find high-quality free and premium themes:
- Theme Marketplaces: Explore reputable theme marketplaces where you can purchase or download themes. Some popular options include ThemeForest, Mojo Marketplace, and Creative Market. These marketplaces offer various free and premium themes, catering to different niches and styles.
- WordPress.org: Visit the official WordPress.org theme repository. You can find thousands of free themes vetted for quality and security here. You can search by category, style, and features to find a theme that suits your needs.
- Premium Theme Providers: Consider premium theme providers like Elegant Themes, StudioPress, and ThemeIsle. They offer high-quality themes with additional features and support.
- Theme Reviews: Read reviews and expert recommendations to discover the best themes. Websites like Colorlib and WPBeginner often publish lists of the best WordPress themes for various purposes, which can be a valuable resource.
- Theme Detector Tools: If you come across a website with a theme you like, you can use theme detector tools to identify which theme it’s using. This can help you find similar themes or learn about the theme’s developer.
- Personal Recommendations: Ask for recommendations from fellow WordPress users or professionals in online forums, social media groups, or WordPress-related communities.
The WordPress theme repository is by far the best option when looking for free themes. You can look at ratings and reviews, browse themes from your WordPress dashboard, install them with the click of a button, and boom… you’ve changed your theme!
Another option for free themes is to go to premium vendors. They often make limited versions of their premium themes available as free downloads.
Where to Find Premium WordPress Themes
To find premium WordPress themes, you have several options:
- Premium WordPress Themes Providers: Many reputable providers are offering premium WordPress themes. You can explore themes from providers like ThemeForest and Elegant Themes.
- GPLDL: GPLDL offers free downloads of premium WordPress themes, but be sure to use them by licensing terms.
- WordPress.com Premium Themes: If you’re using WordPress.com, you can browse premium themes available on their platform, which are suitable for Premium, Business, and Commerce plans.
- WordPress Admin Dashboard: If you’re using self-hosted WordPress, you can access premium themes directly from your dashboard. Go to “Appearance” -> “Themes” and apply the “Premium” filter to view only premium themes.
- Reviews and Recommendations: You can also check reviews and recommendations for the best premium WordPress themes.
What Are WordPress Themes Made Of?
If you’re a business owner, you’ve probably never thought about how your WordPress theme is made.
WordPress themes are made up of various components, and they play a crucial role in the appearance and functionality of a WordPress website.
However, developers need to understand the inner workings of themes for their development purposes. In addition, it’s not a bad idea for anyone who uses a WordPress theme to at least know about the basics.
It’s like owning a house. You may not know how to repair the furnace, but you should know where it’s located, how to turn it off, and maybe some maintenance practices.
A theme is the same way. Your business relies on a theme functioning correctly, so it’s not a bad idea to figure out how it works.
As mentioned briefly, a WordPress theme is a collection of files, each with its purposes, that come together and function to provide a graphical and functional interface on the internet.
A WordPress theme renders features and design elements on the WordPress content management system. Still, technically, the WordPress theme files are stored on a server managed by your hosting company.
Here’s a breakdown of what WordPress themes are made of:
- Stylesheet (style.css): The stylesheet, often named style.css, is a core component of a WordPress theme. It controls the website’s styling, such as fonts, colors, and layout, making it a vital part of the theme.
- Template Files: Themes include various template files for different types of content, such as single posts, pages, archives, and more. These templates define how each type of content should be displayed on the website.
- Images and Media: Themes often incorporate images, icons, and other media files to enhance the website’s visual appeal. These assets are typically stored in the theme’s directory.
- Customization Options: Many themes offer customization options through the WordPress Customizer. Users can modify settings like site logo, colors, and layout to tailor the theme to their needs.
- Functionality: Some themes have built-in functionality or features like custom widgets, shortcodes, and custom post types. These add-ons can extend the functionality of a WordPress site without the need for additional plugins.
Also Read: How to Make a WordPress Website In 2023
What’s Inside Those WordPress Files?
Developers call them template files, which include a wide array of files that change how your site gets shown on the internet, all without adjusting the core WordPress tools.
Some of the types of files include the following:
- PHP files – PHP files contain all the code required to tell other files what to do on the website. They hold the theme’s overall structure and interact with CSS and media files to give them orders on how to function.
- CSS files are style sheets to modify how data designs are displayed on your website. CSS files can control anything from font size button positioning, and column formatting.
- GIF, PNG, or JPG files are image files; they’re no different than a standard JPG or PNG image file you store on your computer. The only difference is that they’re organized in a website folder and told to appear in a particular place on your site.
The file formats above indicate the file types stored in your template. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of every kind of file. In addition, the file counts get larger as you build your site. For instance, when uploading a new blog post, the image is stored as a JPG or PNG file in the theme folder.
Each file is stored in one theme folder, typically broken up into a handful of other categorized folders.
As for specific files, WordPress themes contain particular files that deliver static content to specific pages. Every time you modify one of those files, the changes are detected so that they get reflected on the right page or website location.
Here are a few of the specific WordPress theme files you’ll see in just about every theme folder:
- header.php – A global file that presents static elements like navigation menus and headers. The file stores HTML files as well. Its primary purpose is for developers to make a simple change to the header file to see those changes no matter which page you visit on the website – like with the menu.
- footer.php – This is another global file that controls the static footer, with formatting and content data, like if you have a menu in your footer or links to your support documentation. The HTML tags from other files are eventually closed by this file.
- sidebar.php – Any sidebar you activate on your WordPress theme is controlled by this file. Sidebars aren’t always as static as a menu, but it’s possible. The sidebars are configured in the
functions.phpfile, but you activate and control the contents of a sidebar in the WordPress admin area.
- The Loop – We refer to “The Loop” as the WordPress theme files that present the primary website content on your website.
- page.php – This file manages the look of all WordPress pages. Therefore, when you create a new page for your site’s About Us or Testimonial section, its style comes from the page.php file. In the file, you can modify options like having a sidebar. You can also generate unique page templates as substitutes for the primary page template.
- single.php – Seeing how posts are separate from pages in the WordPress dashboard, it makes sense that they also have their own files. That’s because each blog post can have a different design than a page. The single.php file controls the format and style of individual posts so that you can specify aspects like sidebars and heading sizes.
- index.php – The index file is a rather important one, seeing as how it maintains the look of your homepage. Although theme index files vary quite a bit, the default index file from WordPress runs a loop that presents the recent blog posts and links to all previous blog posts. This is one of the primary files that gets changed with a theme because something like an e-commerce or corporate theme often needs more than just a list of blog posts.
- tag.php, category.php, and archive.php – Some other files control what the archive pages and posts look like on your websites. The category and tag files can be created to modify what specific category and tag pages look like when they end up in the archives.
Remember that all WordPress theme files could technically have names different than those we discuss here. It’s not common, considering a standard WordPress file download already includes the default file names, but a custom developer may name them other things. For instance, some developers go with
single-post.php instead of
Also Read: How To Register a Domain Name
The following files are often considered background files. They’re still significant for a theme to work but have more of a background role for manipulating the previously mentioned files.
- style.css – The CSS stylesheet is required for all WordPress themes and comes by default when downloading a premium or free theme. This is the main CSS file for controlling many visual aspects of your website. CSS works side-by-side with HTML and other WordPress files to style the foundational structure of your site.
- functions.php – Here’s a file that allows you to insert your own PHP code to change around some regions of the core theme. An example would be implementing more sidebars than the theme initially dictates or eliminating one from a post preview.
- comments.php – This file is ready and waiting if you have comments on your posts or pages, but usually on posts. The comments.php file has the option for an override if you’d instead install a third-party plugin that provides a more advanced comments section. You can also completely turn off your comments.
It’s not uncommon to wonder when a WordPress theme is necessary. Usually, you don’t have to choose between a theme and a plugin but rather decide when to utilize each separately.
Here are some examples of when you might need a WordPress theme:
- When you’d like to implement a specific website design without coding a website from scratch.
- Make your website design industry-specific, like for a photographer’s portfolio or construction-oriented business site.
- If you’re running an agency or development company and need to create numerous websites for clients rapidly.
- When you want to overhaul your website design from its current configuration, this often involves finding a theme with the right colors, layouts, and fonts.