What is a WordPress Theme?

If you compare one website with the another, you’ll realize that every website has a 

  • Logo  
  • Navigation for accessing internal pages like about us and contact us
  • Some text-based content
  • More than a dozen articles
  • A footer with copyright information and few links

Although the elements that make up the website are same, the way we design them makes all the difference. For example, a simple change to font, layout and color combinations would make the website look entirely different, and this is what the WordPress theme development is all about. 

A WordPress theme controls how a website looks for its visitors. It deals with the layout, colors, fonts, HTML Markup and CSS. In one word, WordPress theme development is all about “Frontend Styling” of a website. This means, changing from one theme to another, will change the design of the website.

For example, let’s take a look at these two designs. 

The elements like Logo, navigation, content and the image in the above two designs are exactly the same. But both the designs look entirely different because of the way those elements are organized and styled. 

A WordPress theme for web developers is like Photoshop for Web designers. The only difference is Web designers uses the Photoshop Interface to craft beautiful designs and WordPress theme developers use PHP, HTML, and CSS to code beautiful, accessible and user-friendly interfaces. So, in my opinion, a WordPress theme is much more than just front-end styling. 

WordPress provides a lot of pre-written code and a robust template hierarchy system to its theme developers. So, as a theme developer, you should learn how to use that pre-written code to pull content from the database and display it to the user using the template hierarchy system.

Technically Speaking, A WordPress Theme is nothing but 

  • A bunch of template files with a lot of HTML and PHP. 
  • One main CSS stylesheet in the name of style.css
  • Few Javascript files
  • Few images
  • Few PHP files controlling how theme handles navigation, images, and other common website stuff.

In the next lesson, you’ll learn where does a WordPress theme live.