What is a WordPress Theme?
A WordPress theme provides all of the front end styling of your WordPress site. Themes may include customized template files, image files ( .jpg , .gif ), style sheets ( .css ), custom Pages , as well as any necessary code files ( .php ).
Godaddy recently stated that 27% of the web is powered by WordPress. All of those sites have a theme that control the look and feel of the website much like a template.
How Many Themes Are There?
There are many themes available for download that will work with your WordPress installation. Quite literally thousands of free WordPress themes currently available, plus thousands of premium WordPress themes available for a small fee. Almost all premium themes come with customer support normally in a forum. Premium themes generally have more time invested into the overall design and have more features than free versions.
How to Install Themes
You can download Themes directly to your blog or website by using the Add New Themes option in the Appearance sub-menu in your WordPress dashboard. If the Theme that you are installing provides instructions, be sure to read through and follow those instructions for the successful installation of the Theme. Before activating a theme it is recommended to click on preview to see how the theme will change the look of your website.
Many free themes can be found using the theme directory in the WordPress dashboard. Additionally, more themes including premium themes can be downloaded externally as a zip file and uploaded to your site.
More advanced designers can create what are called child themes. There are also tons of child themes out there. To get started with child themes, you’ll first need a parent theme installed. A child theme is a theme that inherits the functionality of another theme, called the parent theme. Child themes allow you to modify, or add to the functionality of that parent theme.
A child theme is the best, safest, and easiest way to modify an existing theme, whether you want to make a small changes or extensive overhauls. Instead of modifying the theme files directly, you can create a child theme and override within. A child theme protects those changes from deletion when the parent theme is updated.
Best WordPress Themes
I have found the best WordPress themes are those that offer flexibility in design and functionality. I love the ones that offer the kitchen sink, however there a many themes that are customized for specific niches that can save a lot of time designing the web site.
I recommend not using the default themes, like twenty fourteen or twenty ten. If you make any changes to code it will be overwritten in the next update. For this reason many child themes are popular.
Ultimately choosing the right theme is matter of preferences. I prefer a theme with all the options but that usually increases the complexity of WordPress knowledge and even html, css, php, and other custom coding. A less experienced designer may prefer a easy to use theme that propagates information after filling out simple forms.
My WordPress Theme Favorites
A designer usually doesn’t give away their trade secrets but I love to help my readers any way possible. So, here are two of my favorites – Weaver II and Opulus. Both offer a free and premium version. I have used both versions and they offer lot of variety.
Don’t stop with just the WordPress theme. You need to add plugins to customize the site to it’s full potential. Websites I design can have as many as 20 different plugins.
I hope this post helps explain what WordPress themes are and how to use them. If you need help picking a theme or setting it up, I would love to help.