What is a WordPress theme?

Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

So you’re thinking of getting a WordPress site? Then you’ll want to have a basic understanding of what a theme does, which is what we’ll be looking at in this article.

WordPress began as a blogging platform but it’s now a powerful content management system used by millions of websites across the world. So while you can still use WordPress for a simple blog, you can do almost anything else you want with it, too.

Much of the flexibility of WordPress is down to its themes and plugins. For now, though, let’s just look at themes. A theme is a collection of files you can install to change the way your site looks without changing its underlying structure. So by changing your site’s theme you can change its colors, page layout, fonts and more, but features such as your site’s content and structure will be unaffected.

So, you're ready to learn about WordPress? Then let's talk about WordPress themes and how you could use one to customize your site.


Because WordPress is open source software, anyone can create and sell WordPress themes. This means there is a huge range of themes out there to choose from. There are themes for online stores, photography or art portfolios, lead generation, brick-and-mortar businesses, dentists, lawyers and much more including, of course, themes designed for blogs.

You can install a new theme without any coding skills, although changing your theme could get a little more complicated if your site was set up by a web designer who has customized it. If someone has set your site up for you, it’s best to check with them or another expert if they are no longer aroundñ before changing your theme. After all, you don’t want to damage your website!

Themes don’t just affect the look of your site, though. Some come with other features such as widgets, which allow you to add features to your web pages such as a search box or links to recent posts. Some widgets are available on all WordPress sites, but others may be features of your theme or plugins. Themes can also control your widget areas, which are the places you can place your widgets such as the sidebar, header, and footer.

WordPress themes can be either free or premium (paid) and you can find many of them in the WordPress themes directory (wordpress.org/themes). The directory also gives you reviews of each theme and the date it was last updated. As WordPress itself is updated regularly, it’s best to pick a theme which has been updated recently. There are also several well-known premium theme developers to choose from including me. Or you could try a marketplace like Themeforest or TemplateMonster.

Now you know the basics of WordPress themes, next we’ll talk about WordPress Plugins.