Introduction to WordPress Themes

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The Ultimate Guide to WordPress Themes

Anyone who reads this blog should know that I recommend using WordPress as your website’s platform. The WordPress platform was specifically designed for the blog style website and remains the number one platform used on the internet.

WordPress allows a website owner to fully manage his/her website, make graphical changes, add content. Manage email, create forms and much, much more. The level of experience needed to manage a WordPress based website is minimal, which is another reason for the overwhelming popularity of the platform.

One of the great features about WordPress is that it give you a head start.  The very minute that you setup your hosting with a WordPress Hosting Site, you have a fully functional website with a starter WordPress Theme.

What is a WordPress Theme?

A WordPress theme is basically a template for a website. This template has already been coded with internet languages to give the user the ability to create and maintain a highly functional website without a thorough knowledge of programming languages. Some basic knowledge of HTML is helpful and we will discuss what HTML is and how you can learn the basics, later.

As mentioned, WordPress Themes are templates that have the fundamental file structure to support a fully functional website. The “brand new” WordPress Theme will have very little in the way of images or content and is essentially a blank slate. What the new theme will have is an Administration Back Office for making changes and the functionality to publish new pages and posts to the website.

Any WordPress theme will have three types of files

CSS Files – These files are called style sheets and tell the website how to display information that you enter.  CSS files are common to most websites and have replaced the line for line coding needed in HTML.

Every WordPress theme will have it’s built in CSS files, that I highly recommend you leave as is, but most WordPress themes will give you the ability to add CSS instructions so that you can tailor the look of your site.

Template Files – These WordPress files are typically PSP files that make up the basic structure of each page of your website.  You will typically have a template file for you homepage and a template for both your secondary pages and posts.

These files are editable, but WordPress will warn you that you better know what you are doing when you mess with these.  My recommendation is to keep these files in tact as much as you can.  If you truly need to alter these files for some reason, get help from a freelancer.

Functions Files: (functions.php) as part of the WordPress Theme files. As you might expect, the function files include much of the instructions to tell your WordPress theme how to act when pages are loaded or interacted with.  The function files are generally built with PHP coding language and are very advanced with respect to coding.

Many “plug-ins” (which we will discuss in detail later) use function files to assist with the purpose of the plug-in and to provide the plug-in with functionality.

How much do WordPress Themes Cost?

WordPress is essentially free, that is to say that you get the WordPress platform and basic WordPress themes when you purchase WordPress Hosting. So you can make a very nice and highly successful WordPress website with the basic package.  Depending on your Hosting Company, most packages will come with 4 to 7 pre-loaded themes.

Basic WordPress comes with about 6 basic themes which I’ve listed below:

  • Twenty-Ten
  • Twenty-Eleven
  • Twenty-Twelve
  • Twenty-Thirteen
  • Twenty-Fourteen
  • Twenty- Fifteen

Now many newbies will spend a large amount of time selecting a WordPress theme and even longer trying to make the theme look exactly how they how they want them to look.  This is a pitfall I would highly recommend you avoid.  My theory on building your first website is to start very basic and then add elements of color and images and graphics as you progress.  The most important factor in building your online business is “traffic” and you build traffic through creating valuable content, so focus on content not aesthetics.

Just like anything else WordPress themes come in all shapes and sizes and across the full spectrum of price points.  You can buy most special themes for anywhere from $25 to $50 for a single website, but you can also spend thousands on a custom built theme that is unique to you.

You might ask, Where do these special themes come from?… Well, there are programmers out there that make WordPress themes and then profit from selling the license to use that theme, it’s an awesome gig, if you know how to code.

WordPress Theme Providers

New WordPress Themes are being created every day and the best place to look for any private license theme is through a WordPress theme provider.  I personally do not have a preference among theme providers, but I will say that I generally get my themes from one of two providers (just my favorites I guess).

Check out either of my 2 favorite WordPress Theme Providers:

Theme Forest – This WordPress provider boasts over 45,000 themes.  They categorize themes in genres such as Corporate, eCommerce, Entertainment, Education and Real Estate.

Most of Theme Forest’s themes will range anywhere from $20 to $75 for a “Regular” or “Standard” license. And this is the type of license that you will need, the “Extended” license is designed for people who will be creating multiple website templates for sale to other, so although it does not constitute a “resale” license, it is very close.

Thrive Themes – This WordPress Theme Provider takes a different approach to supplying it’s products.  With Thrive Themes, your will pay a monthly membership and then have access to all Thrive Theme products.  The Thrive Themes “Individual or Entrepreneurs” membership is currently $19/month and, as mentioned, give you access to use any of their themes, plug-ins or tools for your own websites (up to 25 websites).

They also have an” Agency and Web Designer” membership which is currently selling for $50/month. With this membership you may use Thrive Theme products with up to 50 websites and may use their products for client websites as well.

What is a WordPress Plug-In?

Honestly, this is where the WordPress platform gets really exciting.  Users can create highly functional websites by downloading tiny programs called “Plug-Ins”. These easily installed programs will help you with everything from Search Engine Optimization to Selling Amazon Products.

Plug-Ins are programmed much like the themes and can often be obtained for free.  Makers of these tiny programs offer the base version for no cost and then hope that you will upgrade to the Premium version for a small fee.  In many cases the free version will be plenty, but there are some plug-ins with very useful Premium Versions as well.

There are thousands of WordPress plug-in programs available.  For a comprehensive list of plug-ins, Go Here: WordPress.org/plugins.  You will notice that plug-ins have been created for Contact Forms, SEO, Website Security, Website Migration, Site Speed, Presentation Sliders and much, much more.

Plug-ins must first be downloaded in zip form and then installed onto your WordPress website.  Once installed the plug-in must them be activated in order to be used.  Some plug-ins will require further information, while other will be fully functional right out of the box.

Responsive WordPress Themes

The definition of a “Responsive” WordPress theme is very simple, but very important with respect to a website in today’s world.  Websites are currently being viewed on a wide variety of devices, everything from computers to cell phones or laptops to tablets and even televisions.

Responsive website have the capability to detect the device screen size and resolution.  They can then automatically adapt to the given viewing environment.  For example, if you are viewing the website on you cell phone, a responsive website will show the mobile version of the site and if you are viewing the same website on a desktop computer, you will see the full version.

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