What is a WordPress Theme?

WordPress themeNot unlike a soap opera, this blog expands on last week’s “episode” in which I addressed both the growing pains and the ultimate usefulness of WordPress themes. So what’s my plan here? To explain what a WordPress Theme actually is.

WordPress itself is just a bunch of files that look like typical programming mumbo jumbo. PHP, MySQL, HTML, CSS. That kind of stuff. But when these files are (properly) installed on a web host’s server (like at CapeWP.com), what happens is this: a web page shows up with a basic format and design and says something like My Blog – Just another WordPress Blog – Hello World!

And that is a great beginning. The stock or default theme, however, although a technical marvel in its own way, is a bit minimalist for many users. At this point, the proud owner of a new default install of WordPress wants it to look more like a “website” – and this is where WordPress gets interesting. Now you can either hire a professional photographer, an experienced WordPress developer (read programmer), a graphic designer for logo and colors, and someone like me to help get everyone on the same track (general contractor). Or you could Google “free WordPress themes,” which is almost as unproductive as Googling “free money.” There are just too many results!

You then remember that you have a trusted WordPress adviser and he says, “Have a look at Premium Themes. Here are some great places to start:”

1. ThemeForest

2. Woo Themes

3. Elegant Themes

Almost forgot. A WordPress Theme is, precisely, a bunch of the aforementioned programming files that, when properly installed (wicked easy) change your stock WordPress website into a grand showroom of color, video, art, products and – the icing on the cake – a social networking extravaganza. In other words, an attractive state of the art website.

The truth about themes
I like to think of it this way: You are looking at a model home that has a hot tub, L-shaped couch, king-size bed, designer curtains and more. However, after you buy the house, if you do not have those same furnishings when you move in, then your new house will not look the same as the model.  And even though the house will not look exactly like the model, it will look good, and it will be yours. That’s the truth in a nutshell.

Hey, what’s your theme, Dave?
To show an almost perfect example of the use of a Premium Theme, here is the theme that CapeWP.com is based on: As you can plainly see, CapeWP.com looks nothing like that now. Play around with the options on the left of the above theme demo. It really gives you a feel for the limitless possibilities. By the way, when I go to Vegas, I am going to check out those boats for sure.

And just to make sure that life stays interesting, there are generally 5-25 themes per week coming online at ThemeForest alone – and not junk either. State-of-the-art, multi-featured and well-supported themes. Our capitalist system at work; competition is fierce and makes for good products.

For comparison sake, here is a standard WordPress install with just a few minor changes.

Many of the modern themes have their own Control Panel where you can change almost everything about the site, no programming knowledge necessary. The benefits? This allows you to change your site as your business changes. It wasn’t that long ago that there was no such thing as a Facebook icon 🙂

A properly chosen theme will save you time and money, while giving your website/blog a professional look. Properly choosing a theme takes into consideration those things you already have, like a logo, as well as things you want, like an easy way to install videos. The expertise and experience of CapeWP.com can come in very handy during this process.

That should give you a good beginning overview of WordPress Themes.

On a different note, lately our good friend Adobe Reader was giving me troubles updating. It would go through the whole process, then say there was an error, could not do it. I tried the usual install/uninstall routine and maybe one tip from Google and said to myself, “Nope! No way! I have had enough of this type of issue over the years and do not want to spend another 3-10 hours trying to fix this.” And so I went to www.foxitsoftware.com and downloaded their reader. It takes up about 20% of the space which means less bloat, something Adobe is infamous for, and it does the same job. And it is free. I have uninstalled Adobe Reader forever! Problem solved.

Spring, please come soon.