WordPress has more than 5,000 themes to choose from! It has a directory that’s filled with the latest and popular designs. Read on to learn what is a WordPress theme, and how you can use it to optimize your WordPress website.
What is a WordPress Theme?
More than just designs, themes allow your website to be “presented” in a specific way you want. With it comes the layout and overall style of your site. The way it is organized and presented enables specific functions that your users can experience.
Imagine building your own house. You lay its foundation, put up the walls and roofing, paint it, and fill it with the things you want and need. Choosing a theme is like knowing how your house will look like and determining how you set it up.
How do you want to present your house? Will it have a kitchen? How about the sink—where do you want to place it? Will it be easily accessible or will it be hidden someplace that only you know. How will it cater to your specific needs?
Where to Get Themes?
Themes are readily available at the WordPress theme directory. There you get to choose from thousands of designs. Like this one:
There are free and premium themes available. In contrast to free themes, however, many of the premium ones are more reliable. They also offer support whenever there’s an issue.
WordPress is an open-source platform. This means it is free to anyone anywhere, and can be readily accessed by the public. With the GNU General Public License, its users are free to:
- Run WordPress themes
- Study how they work
- Distribute their own modified themes
- Redistribute copies of other themes
In all these, WordPress aims to establish a steady community of supporters who would be willing to share their knowledge and skills when the need arises. What better way to help one another in optimizing their websites?
Static vs Responsive Layout
How do you want to present your website to your users? Smartphones and other mobile devices have become popular among online users around the world. For this, website owners and developers are encouraged to present their sites in a way that it will run smoothly as well on mobile devices and not just on computers.
There are 2 main layout options to be familiar with when considering a theme:
1. Static Layout
These are fixed designs that have no ability to adapt to changes. How you see a website on a computer is the same way you’ll see it on a Smartphone, tablet, and other mobile devices. You will need to zoom in your screen if you want to make something look clear.
They may come in less expensive but less convenient to your website user.
2. Responsive Layout
From the name itself, a responsive layout has the ability to respond to changes. It can adapt to the size of the mobile device, making it easier for the user to access your site’s content. There will be no need for them to zoom in and swipe tirelessly. They can easily browse through your website in any way they want.
Themes with this kind of layout may need more time to build, but the end result is worth it. Learn more about responsive themes here.
How to Install WordPress Themes
WordPress currently has 5 default themes that you can use anytime you want: Twenty Thirteen, Twenty Fourteen, Twenty Fifteen, Twenty Sixteen, and the new Twenty Seventeen Theme. They come in useful particularly when you encounter a specific issue that would require you to change your theme. That way, default themes can serve as your temporary go-to options when the going gets tough.
Here’s how to install a theme from your WordPress admin area:
- Visit the WordPress theme directory and download the theme you want to install—it can either be free or commercial. Whichever you prefer. But, make sure to make a careful decision. Consider the date it was published, the user reviews, and other such helpful information. Avoid broken themes that can create issues in the long run.
- Login to your admin area and click Appearance > Themes. If the theme you downloaded has instructions for its installation, it is best to follow it as your guide. Its developers may have something else set for you apart from the basic instructions provided here.
- Click Add New > Upload the theme from your computer
- A success message will show up afterwards. There you’ll find the Activate option. Click it, and voila! A new theme is ready for you to modify and use.
Not all themes have the same functions. So, carefully choose the theme you want to use. Check first where your content will go, if you install the theme.
Another way to install a theme is through your FTP. However, it requires advanced skills in WordPress web development. You can go ahead and try it out if you wish to learn. Nonetheless, you can still approach experts to handle it for you.
WordPress Themes vs WordPress Plugins
Themes and plugins are not the same. As mentioned, themes refer to the presentation or “skin” of your website. On the other hand, plugins are specific site functions that you can install to make your website more convenient to your users. With plugins, you can add sign-up forms, avoid hackers, set up forums, and many more. As of date, WordPress has more than 48,000 plugins to choose from.
With themes, you can design and present. With plugins, you can enhance your website with necessary site functions.
The Right Theme for Your Website
Choosing the right theme comes with knowing what you need to run your site. You can’t just keep on adding and changing themes as it can disrupt user experience. Know what it is that you really want. Know what your site is for, and determine how you can go about achieving your goals.
Having a WordPress website opens you to a door of possibilities. With it, you can extend and expand your business, organization, and other interests. In so doing, know what you’re up to for you to have the best possible way to share your website here and around the world.
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