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What Is a WordPress Theme?

A WordPress Theme is sometimes referred to as the skin that presents the content on a website, with a particular style.

Your WordPress Theme is Your Website's Presentation

Before we go into the details of themes, I’d like to clarify that I consider themes to be your site’s presentation. That is, your website or blog is nothing more than a collection of posts, pages, categories, and other data saved in a database.

Sure, you may render them in the browser without any styling, but if you want to express a brand or a look and feel to your visitors and/or readers, you’ll need a theme.

That is, however, my definition. What does WordPress mean when it says “WordPress theme”? The following is found in the Codex:

The WordPress Theme system is essentially a way to “skin” your blog. It is, however, more than just a “skin.” The term “skin” refers to a change in the appearance of a website. WordPress Themes can provide you a lot more control over the style and presentation of your website’s content.

How Much Does a Theme Set You Back?

I often get asked this question, so let’s talk about the pros and cons.

Themes for Free

On the one side, there are a plethora of free themes available; yet, many of the free themes are also very generic. Furthermore, because they are free, other people are likely to utilize the same theme.

If you’re creating a blog for yourself with a tiny readership or a site that doesn’t require a unique type of branding, a free option is perfectly acceptable.

Themes for a Fee

On the other hand, depending on the level of design and customization, requirements, and environment that go into supporting them, some themes can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $20,000 and up.

If that seems like a lot of money to spend on a theme, keep in mind that we’re talking about software that will power a website that will be seen by a lot of people.


Where Should I Get Quality Themes?

There are a lot of places online that have themes, but not all of them are worth looking into. In fact, I only recommend a few number of respectable establishments. Not all of them will be discussed here, but two of the most useful resources are listed below.

I’ll also discuss why we should avoid browsing for free themes everywhere and instead stick to premium marketplaces.

ThemeForest is Envato’s own marketplace, with over 6,000 WordPress themes available at the time of writing.

The themes available in this marketplace will range from speciality themes that strive to do one thing well to themes that will attempt to do everything you can think of.

Despite the fact that the WordPress community is divided on how much a theme should actually accomplish for the user, the buyer ultimately decides how much they want their product to do.

The fact that themes with multiple variations continue to sell indicates that there is a market for them. Niche themes that stay focused on one item and continue to improve on a single niche of the blogging and/or content management arena, on the other hand, have something to offer.

Theme Repository for WordPress

The WordPress Theme Repository is where theme developers can submit their work, have it reviewed, and then have it made accessible for download both on the website and in the WordPress dashboard.

These themes are more focused on mastering a single skill. You’ll probably find themes that focus on blogging, photography, music, or showing some other part of a passion, for example.

If you’re new to WordPress themes and want to get started on a shoestring budget, the WordPress theme repository is a terrific place to start.

Is there any more?

There are many more theme marketplaces than the ones listed above, but if we tried to cover them all, we’d end up with an essay that would take days to read. Instead, I attempted to capture two of the most popular resources for premium and free themes.

To be sure, this isn’t an exhaustive list, and you may always hire a developer independently. Furthermore, if you devote enough time to learning the ins and outs of theming, you may be able to construct one on your own.

We’ll get to that in a minute, but first let me say a few words about the free themes that come up in a typical Google search result.

The Risks of Looking for Themes

If you’re new to WordPress theming, keep in mind that this is something that will come with time rather than something you should be concerned about right now.

When it comes to WordPress themes, there are plenty of sites on the web to help you find them.

However, a word of warning: If you go to Google and search for free WordPress themes, you’re setting yourself up for disaster.

That is, many of the free themes you’ll find on Google haven’t been thoroughly verified and may leave your site exposed.

Obviously, this isn’t a good thing. As a result, stick with some of the renowned markets, such as those listed above, for purchasing a theme.

What About Functionality?

When discussing functionality in the context of WordPress themes, you’re starting to mix presentation and, well, functionality. And this is when WordPress plugins come in handy.

WordPress’ core is built to be lean and lightweight, with a focus on maximizing flexibility and reducing code bloat. Plugins then provide custom functions and features, allowing each user to customize their site to meet their specific requirements.
WordPress themes, in general, should be in charge of managing the appearance of your website. That is, they are in charge of the site’s fonts, color scheme, and layout.

Plugins, on the other hand, are in charge of adding functionality to WordPress that goes beyond the fundamental capabilities. Perhaps they add a feature that’s specific to your blog, or they improve something that wasn’t available on the dashboard before.

In any case, there should be a clear distinction between themes and plugins. Regrettably, this line is frequently crossed. Many themes, on the other hand, bundle plugins with their source code, making the theme inoperable without it. Furthermore, if a user attempts to install a version of the plugin that is already included with the theme, their site may see unpredictable results.

Though I’m not claiming that you should never create a theme with additional functionality, in general themes are responsible for presentation while plugins are more for functionality.

As previously stated in this article, there is a demand for themes that tend to “do it all,” as evidenced by products sold and purchased across a range of markets.

In terms of building WordPress themes, the best advise I can give is to focus on making sure the material is presented and styled correctly. After that, you can try your hand at plugin development. But that’s a discussion for another day.


Now that we’ve gone over what WordPress themes are, and what purpose they serve, you can consider whether or not you want to create your own. Remember that taking on a project like that necessitates a working knowledge of a number of programming languages, as well as knowledge of the WordPress template structure. 

Thank you for stopping by today. If you enjoyed this article you may also like: How to Choose the Perfect URL

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