So you're thinking of getting a WordPress site? Then you'll want to have a basic understanding of what a theme does, which is what we'll be looking at in this article.
WordPress began as a blogging platform but it's now a powerful content management system used by millions of websites across the world. So while you can still use WordPress for a simple blog, you can do almost anything else you want with it, too.
Much of the flexibility of WordPress is down to its themes and plugins. For now though, lets just look at themes. A theme is a collection of files you can install to change the way your site looks without changing its underlying structure.
So by changing your site's theme you can change its colors, page layout, fonts and more, but features such as your site's content and structure will be unaffected.
Because WordPress is open source software, anyone can create and sell WordPress themes. This means there is a huge range of themes out there to choose from. There are themes for online stores, photography or art portfolios, lead generation, brick-and-mortar businesses, dentists, lawyers and many more including of course, themes designed for blogs.
You can install a new theme without any coding skills, although changing your theme could get a little more complicated if your site was set up by a web designer who has customized it. If someone has set your site up for you its best to check with them – or another expert if they are no longer around– before changing your theme. After all, you don't want to damage your website!
Themes don't just affect the look of your site, though. Some come with other features such as widgets, which allow you to add features to your web pages such as a search box or links to recent posts.
Some widgets are available on all WordPress sites, but others may be features of your theme or plugins. Themes can also control your widget areas, which are the places you can place your widgets such as the sidebar, header and footer.
WordPress themes can be either free or premium (paid) and you can find many of them at the WordPress themes directory (wordpress.org/themes). The directory also gives you reviews of each theme and the date it was last updated. As WordPress itself is updated regularly, it's best to pick a theme which has been updated recently.
There are also several well-known premium theme developers to choose from including Elegant Themes and StudioPress. Or you could try the Themeforest marketplace. Other good choices are Woo Themes and Elegant Themes.
Now you know the basics of WordPress themes why not take a look around and find one you like?