What is Theme in WordPress and How does It Work?

What is theme in WordPress and how does it work? This type of questions are the most frequently asked questions to any WordPress theme developers. If you are considering your career as a WordPress theme developer, first of all, all you need to know is what theme is in WordPress and how it works with WordPress.

Here in this post, you will get all the details information about theme, how to install them and activate, their types and many more.

What is theme in WordPress?

WordPress theme is the collection files that work together properly to power the front end of any WordPress website or graphical user interface of website. Generally files are in PHP, JavaScript, CSS etc. In simple words, a theme in WordPress is the one that powers the front end of any WordPress website. For example, while you visit the site built in WordPress such as www.mustbeweb.com, what you see here in this website is due to theme. So theme is responsible for how any website looks for end users.

Keep in mind that themes can be changed at any time from admin dashboard but the contents are never lost due to theme change. Theme in WordPress is always in vital position. Because the quality of website is determined by the quality of theme and it’s design. Without good quality theme, it is impossible to have good WordPress website.

There are thousands of thousands free themes available. And WordPress theme directory is one of the best place to find the free themes. The premium themes are available on different marketplace like theme forest, mojo theme etc.

what is theme in wordpress

Things you need to know to develop WordPress Theme

  • PHP – Since core WordPress has been developed by PHP web language, themes are also developed by PHP. Different PHP files such as index.php, header.php, single.php etc. are created to develop the WordPress theme to function properly in website.
  • CSS – Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) is a style sheet language used for describing the presentation of a document written in a markup language. Although most often used to set the visual style of web pages and user interfaces written in HTML and XHTML. Along with HTML and JavaScript, CSS is a cornerstone technology used by most websites to create visually engaging webpages, user interfaces for web applications. That’s why, CSS has very important role in WordPress theme development.
  • JavaScript : JavaScript is a full-fledged dynamic programming language that, when applied to an HTML document, can provide dynamic interactivity on websites. That’s why, while developing WordPress theme, JavaScript is the one that makes huge different in functionality of theme. So it has great role in theme development.
  • WordPress built-in Function – WordPress has already created numerous functions and these functions must be known while developing WordPress theme.

Codex is the best place to learn about theme development tutorials. So with these language/script, anyone can make simple to premium themes.

How to upload theme?

Uploading theme is not so difficult as you might have thinking. There are two ways to upload WordPress theme which are

  • Theme installation from theme directory
  • Theme installation from your computer

In your site admin dashboard, Go to Appearance > Themes Where you will see some already installed themes there. Find the ‘Add New’ button and click on that button.

Theme Installation

  1. Theme installation from WordPress theme directory: Themes installation from WordPress directory is so easy. In WordPress directory, you will see thousands of thousand free themes and you can use them in your WordPress website. After Appearance > Themes, you will see many themes there and you can select anyone of them which suits your needs.
  2. Themes installation (Already downloaded or purchased): But if you want to upload already downloaded or purchased themes, you will see ‘Upload Theme’ button there. By clicking on that button, you will be redirected where you can upload the WordPress Themes from your computer. But be sure the theme is in zip format.

In this way, you can easily upload and install theme in WordPress. But keep in mind that only uploading does not work for website. So if you want to use that theme, you have to activate that theme.

How to activate theme?

Go to Appearance > Themes and click over the theme that you wanted to activate. After clicking theme, you will see ‘activate’ button. By clicking on activate button, your website will be powered by that theme. In this way, you can easily use any theme by activating them. After knowing all the details about theme and their structure,  the next thing you need to know about them is their classification.

WordPress Theme Classification

There are different type of WordPress themes available. Here’s type of theme and their short descriptions.

  • Premium Theme

Premium themes are those themes which cost certain amount of money. The cost of premium theme varies according to theme. Premium theme has every features what web owner wants from user friendly theme option to eCommerce capability. Premium theme provider companies have good customer support and will have life time theme update option.

Also Read:   Setup Social Master Plugin in WordPress

They are far better than free version of theme. There are many WordPress theme marketplace but one of the most popular marketplace is theme forest where you can find 6.5+ k WordPress Themes which cost at around $60 USD.

  • Free Theme

Free theme indicate that the theme is free of cost. Of course these category of themes are always free but they might be less quality than those of premium theme. Although many contributors have contributed premium quality themes for WordPress community.

One of the best place to find out the free WordPress theme is WordPress.org’s theme directory. There are thousands of thousands free themes available. And you can find the best quality theme there.

  • Responsive Theme

Responsive web design (RWD) is an approach to web design aimed at crafting sites to provide an optimal viewing and interaction experience—easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling—across a wide range of devices (from desktop computer monitors to mobile phones). A site designed with RWD adapts the layout to the viewing environment by using fluid, proportion-based grids, flexible images, and CSS3 media queries. Source: Wikipedia

Those themes which follows responsive web design approach is considered as responsive theme. These kind of themes offers optimal user experience across various devices and screen resolutions including desktop computers, tablets such as iPad, smartphones and other mobile devices.

A responsive WordPress theme adjusts its layout based on the screen size and resolution. Responsive themes offer better readability and usability on smaller screens such as smart phones.

  • Non Responsive Theme: 

This type of theme is just opposite to responsive in features. Unlike responsive theme,these kind of themes does not offer optimal user experience across various devices and screen resolutions.

Since people access internet from different devices such as mobile phones, tablets, desktop computers etc, non responsive theme is one that must be rejected and has to considered as the worst theme and should not use them in any website.

  • Child Theme 

Child theme is developed based on another theme. A WordPress child theme is a theme which inherits all the functionality from another WordPress theme.

Why to use a child theme?

  • If you customize a theme directly and it is updated, then your modifications may be lost. But if you use a child theme you will ensure that your modifications are preserved.
  • Using a child theme can speed up development time.
  • Using a child theme is a great way to learn about WordPress theme development.
  • AdSense Optimized Theme

Since Google AdSense has been one of the great source of revenue for many bloggers, many theme developers are considering developing AdSense optimized theme. But what is adsense optimized theme?

Here’s what AdSense optimized theme can do:

  • Proper placement of Google ads so that visitors get noticed about ads.
  • Displays ads on different devices so that ads be delivered to almost all the users.

These are the main characteristic of adsense optimized WordPress theme.

These both points are always important to blogger to increase the revenue. That’s why, AdSense optimized themes are very important to anyone who depends on Google AdSense for revenue.

I think you may have liked this post on this topic “What is Theme in WordPress and How does It Work?”. If you have anything to add on this, please leave your view on comment section below.

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Kamal Tamang
Kamal Tamang is a freelance web developer and has completed his Bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering. He is a SEO expert, web article writer and has written 100+ search engine friendly web article for different websites. You can drop mail at kamaltmg2071@gmail.com to contact him.

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