What is a WordPress Theme

Do you know what is a WordPress theme and what is it used for? You have come to the right place.

In this article, we’ll explain what a WordPress theme is, how it is installed, its types, and everything you need to know about themes. 

What is a WordPress Theme? – Definition

A WordPress theme is the base layer for all design on a WordPress site and determines the overall look and functionality. A theme provides you to style the layout and appearance of your website. They provide the design “framework” for your site.

According to the official WordPress Codex, “A WordPress Theme is a collection of files that work together to produce a graphical interface with an underlying unifying design for a website. These files are called template files. A Theme modifies the way the site is displayed, without modifying the underlying software.”

WordPress Themes
WordPress Themes

The theme is a “skin” of your WordPress site. It will provide you with far more control over the visual presentation of your content, and other data on your WordPress site.

Themes are found within the WordPress admin interface where you’ll browse by specific functionality, appearance, also you can view a live version of an example website created with a specific theme. There are a variety of third party marketplaces for locating WordPress themes that are often more curated and supply more detailed descriptions of every theme’s capability.

Most WordPress themes provide the design of your site, font styling, colors, widget locations, page layouts styles for blog posts, and blog archives, and extra stylistic details.

What is Theme Used For?

WordPress themes are incredibly powerful. A theme is more than just a color and layout. Good themes improve engagement together with your website’s content additionally to being beautiful. Theme can do following things:

  • Your theme can have different layouts, like static or responsive, using one column or multiple.
  • It can display content anywhere, you would like it to be displayed as they are compatible with any devices.
  • Your theme can customize its fonts and style elements using CSS (Cascading Stylesheet).
  • The theme can include other design elements like images and videos anywhere.

Types of WordPress Theme

There are thousands of themes available on WordPress. There are both free and premium themes available. You’ll choose a theme according to your choice.

i. Free

WordPress provides many good-looking themes absolutely free within the WordPress theme directory. The free theme will have limited customization options. 

OceanWP Theme
OceanWP – Popular Free WordPress Theme

The free theme provides less support in comparison to Premium one but they are secure enough to be trusted.

You should go along with the free one until it fulfills your requirement for your website or else you’ll jump into the premium one. But if you’re the beginner’s then you should start with the free themes.

Some of the free WordPress themes are OceanWP, Astra, Neve, etc.

ii. Premium (Paid)

Those themes that are developed and updated by a developer and listed for sale are called Premium WordPress Themes. The premium themes may cost you starting from $30. The value varies depending upon the design and requirements of your site.

Aquene Theme
Aquene – Popular Premium WordPress Theme

The good thing is the extra money you’re spending on a premium theme, the more functionality, and control you’ll be getting in return.

Another advantage of premium themes is that they supply a reliable code base and offer support. It also gives you more enhanced security.

Some of the premium WordPress themes are Avada, Aquene, The7, etc.

Difference Between Free vs Paid WordPress Theme

As you know there are two types of WordPress themes, one is paid (premium) and the other one is free. Both are from the WordPress, but they have some differences in their functionality. For a few users, free themes could also be suitable, and for a few users, premium themes could also be suitable. It all depends upon their need.

Let’s have a glance at a number of the functions of free also as premium themes. It’ll assist you in choosing a theme for you.

i. Cost

Free themes in fact, as the name suggests are absolutely free. You’ll be able to use them any time without any money.

For the premium, you’ve got to pay. On average you’ll have to spend around $59 to $69 which varies depending upon the designing of the theme. You can go after premium one if you are earning enough from your site but if you’re using your site just for a personal blog then, it’s going to cost you a great deal.

ii. Quality

If you’d like your site to rank in a very good position then you’d like to enhance its quality.

The free theme won’t make your site unique as that same theme has been utilized by other sites because it’s free for everybody.

Hence, if you would like to form your site unique then choose the premium one. There are other qualities that require to be fulfilled like your site has got to be responsive and will support different browsers. The free theme won’t guarantee you to supply these qualities.

iii. Features

Free themes provide limited features. They don’t update their theme frequently. Although they support most standard WordPress features, many of them don’t offer extra features like creating buttons, creating landing pages, etc.

Premium theme developers provide the latest features and far more functionality than free themes. They provide a simple interface that enables users to create any kind of changes within the design of their site.

iv. Support

In free themes, if you wish any form of help, you’ve got to go looking for help and ask on forums. If someone will be willing then you’ll get your answer but it’ll take a while.

Premium themes will offer some support systems. You’ll get timely support from reliable developers. And solves your problem very quickly.

v. Update

Most of the free themes are updated regularly. But there are few which aren’t updated regularly. This could cause security vulnerabilities. However, you can still find some well managed and regularly updated free themes. You can use such trusted themes if you need completely free. 

Whereas, premium WordPress themes come with regular updates to make it compatible with the new WordPress version.

vii. Security

WordPress provides better security by updating it every few months. An outdated theme may cause loads of security threats.

Free themes generally have a high securities threat. For example, some free themes are specifically designed to hold malicious code.

On the other hand, premium themes give high-security standards to their customers. As they need the cash to spend on meeting the high-security standards of their customers.

How to Select WordPress Theme

When it involves choosing a theme for your WordPress website, there are plenty of options to settle on from. You must select a WordPress theme very wisely in order that it perfectly fits on your site. You can go along with either one — paid or free.

Just an easy theme can affect your website in a lot of the way. For instance, a heavy theme might look great but may hamper your website and Google will degrade its ranking. At the same time, if a theme isn’t coded properly, it becomes difficult to add any plugin or change that theme.

Theme selection is extremely important as everything for your website depends upon the theme.

Having said that, let’s take a glance at the steps you’ll take to ensure that you select the most effective theme for your WordPress site.

i. Look for Simplicity

You should search for a theme that not only looks good for your website, but also shouldn’t compromise together with your site’s functionality. Always search for the theme that contains a design layout that helps you achieve your goal. 

Don’t make theme styling so complicated. Because the purpose of your theme should be to assist users to find the information they need and to assist site owners achieve their goals at a similar time.

ii. Responsiveness

Your theme should be compatible with all kinds of screen sizes. A large percentage of website traffic is from mobile devices than laptops, and PCs. Google also gives better ranking to responsive sites.

The majority of WordPress themes are fully-responsive by default and can look great on all devices, including desktop and laptop computers, tablets, and smartphones.

Hence, look for a theme that’s responsive to make your website accessible by all device users.

iii. Browser Compatibility

Your user might use different browsers. So, always make the theme you select supported by all the browsers.

Most WordPress theme developers test their themes rigorously by a range of browser compatibility tools. But if they don’t, then you’ll always run some basic tests to see the compatibility on different browsers.

iv. Plugin Support

Remember that plugins are important for a WordPress website as these plugins make it possible for you to try and do anything with your WordPress website. Always make sure that your selected theme must support all the favored plugins.

v. Multilingual Support

Your theme should support multilingual to support different languages for users. If you want to make sites in multiple languages, this feature is mandatory.

vi. Support

If you’re choosing a free theme then only a few developers provide support options. So, if you messed up along with your site then you’ll need to solve it on your own. So instead of facing these problems, you must better choose a theme which has good documentation and support help options.

vii. SEO Friendly

To increase your site performance on search engines, choose a theme that’s SEO friendly. It might be difficult for beginners to research a theme’s source code on their own. This can be why many WordPress theme developers will allow you to know whether their theme is SEO friendly or not.

viii. Update

It’s important to choose a theme that’s also actively maintained, and updated on a daily basis. If a theme was last updated quite a year ago, you’re better off avoiding it. As it might not be secure and may cause security vulnerabilities and more.

ix. Ratings and Reviews

When choosing a theme, confirm you’re taking a look at its ratings and reviews. You’ll see customer reviews for those themes that are sold on a third-party marketplace. A theme has both good and bad reviews, but if there are more negative reviews than read it carefully and consider it once more.

How to Install a WordPress Theme

For theme installation, first, you need to pick out a theme either free or a premium one. There are tons of websites from where you’ll download a theme. You’ll get your downloaded file in .zip format and then start the installation process. There are two methods to install the WordPress theme.

Method 1: Installing from the WordPress Theme Directory

If you wish to install a free theme from the WordPress repository, then the simplest way to do so is to install it via the themes section of your WordPress dashboard. Follow these steps:

  1. Open your WordPress Dashboard, then hover above Appearance and then click Theme. [Appearance → Themes]
Add Theme Option in Appearance
Add Theme Option in Appearance
  1. Click on the Add New button.
Add New Theme Option
Add New Theme Option

If you found your theme at WordPress.org , then you can search for it by name and click the install button. 

If you’ve got a concept of what features you’d like your theme to incorporate, then you’ll use the Feature Filter search tool also.

Feature Filter Option
Feature Filter Option in WordPress

In Feature Filter, you can browse themes based on:

  • Subjects (such as Blog, E-Commerce, Education, Entertainment, and others).
  • Features (such as Accessibility Ready, Custom Background, Custom Colors, Footer Widgets, Full-Width Template, and others).
  • Layout (such as Grid Layout, One Column, Two Columns, Left Sidebar, and others).

After you have selected the theme of your choice, then click Feature Filter to help you sort out choice. Then once you have checked all the boxes of your desired criteria, click the Apply Filters button. 

List of Feature Filter
List of Feature Filter Option In WordPress

WordPress will then display a listing of themes that incorporate your chosen features. From that, you’ll click the Preview button to look at the theme in your site’s Customizer. After that click on Install → Activate to activate the theme, and then start designing your new website.

Method 2: Installing using Upload Method

This method will help you upload themes to WordPress manually. But first, you need to download it as a .zip file from an external source and then follow the following steps.

  1. Go to Appearance → Theme in your WordPress dashboard
  1. Click on the Add New button.
  1. Click on the Upload Theme button that you can find right next to the title.
Upload New Theme Option
Upload New Theme Option
  1. Select Choose File and then find the .zip file on your device. Then click on Install Now
Upload New Theme Manually
Upload New Theme Manually
  1. WordPress will now upload and install the theme for you. Once it has finished, select Live Preview to see its sneak peek. 
Live Theme Preview
Live Theme Preview for Top Store
  1. Now click Activate to finalize the change.

Difference Between Themes vs Plugins

Themes are used to add some features and functionality to a site, but they’re different from plugins. A plugin can’t change a website’s design, look, and feel but a theme can do this. You’ll customize some functionality in themes rather than installing the plugin. But you cannot replace the theme with the plugin.

A theme is an external effect sort of website’s presentation and style. Whereas, a plugin is an internal effect that adds or removes some functions to a site.

If you would like to alter the looks of your site by changing your theme, then all the customization done by you is going to disappear. But the good thing is that the data and information will remain safe. Whereas you can activate or deactivate a plugin whenever you would like. It’ll not affect the site in any way.

When it involves the speed of your site it’s mainly suffering from designing a theme, and a number of images.

Therefore, it’s better to allow themes to handle the design of a site and plugin to handle how a site should behave. Thus, all the functionalities of the site will remain there even if we change the theme.


Installing a WordPress theme may be a quick and simple process. But making a choice on which theme is the right one for your website is far harder. So always take some time browsing the themes, and choose the one that is the most effective match along with your needs, not the one that has the biggest number of features.

We hope that you understand what is a WordPress Theme, how to install, and many more. Following this guide step-by-step, you’ll have your theme installed in no time.

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