What’s a WordPress Theme?

Part 3 in the continuing series on using WordPress for blogging: a platform-building, book-selling tool.

Each blog or website needs a theme. There are two ways to understand this.

From a content standpoint, a blog needs a theme or topic to guide writing and attract readers. The theme of this blog is book publishing, of which blogging is a related concept. However, that’s not the focus of this post.

From a technical standpoint, a theme is how a WordPress blog looks. This is the focus of this post.

Consider cell phones. We can buy a skin or cover to change how our phone looks. Just by adding a cover, we alter its appearance so it looks like an entirely different model, even though it’s the same phone underneath. Some people buy one cover and never change it, while others change their covers often.

A WordPress theme is like a cell phone cover: it alters how WordPress looks, even though the same WordPress platform exists under it. Some people pick one WordPress theme and never change it, while others try different themes and frequently change them. However, while a cover is optional for a cell phone, a theme is required for WordPress.

Some WordPress themes are free and others have a cost. There are thousands of themes to pick from. If you install WordPress today, it comes with a free theme, called Twenty Fourteen. Each year WordPress releases a new theme. For this blog, I use the Twenty Eleven theme, which I have on all twelve of my WordPress sites. Someday, I’ll look at other themes, but right now, I enjoy the consistency of maintaining sites that all use the same theme. Plus, I like the elegant simplicity of the Twenty Eleven theme.

To begin, I recommend using the free theme that comes with WordPress. Don’t worry about finding a different theme to start with. Instead, focus on the basic configuration and adding great content.

When we get a new cell phone, the first goal is to use it; adding a cover is secondary. So too, when we install WordPress, our primary objective is to use it; finding the perfect theme can happen later.

What do you think? Please leave a comment!