What is a WordPress theme?

April 5, 2023

Blog Featured Image with text overlay. Topic - What is a WordPress theme?


A brief explanation of what a theme is for WordPress.

If you have been looking at building your own website or talking to a website designer or developer about helping you out with one, the word “theme” may have been thrown around a time or two. But what is a theme and why does it matter?

What is a WordPress theme?

In general a “theme” is a collection of files that a developer has already put together that make up the foundation of a site’s appearance. This includes the layout, the sidebar, and the style sheets (also referred to as “css” – cascading style sheets). So that means that a WordPress theme is a set of files that have been developed to work with WordPress. WordPress is a free, open source content management system (C.M.S.) used to build a website and is one of the more popular ones out there – more than 40% of all websites are built using WordPress.

Depending on the design preference and comfortability of the person using the (C.M.S.), different themes become the preferred design tool. That’s really what a theme is. Between a theme and a content management system like WordPress, websites can now be built in days rather than months because each page is no longer hand coded. Here at S. Barnes Designs, our design preference is the Divi. Divi also comes with a page builder (which makes designing from the front end (what you see is what you get type of thing) even easier). So we have WordPress, the Divi theme, and the Divi builder.

Why we like Divi.

Divi from Elegant Themes is easier to use than a lot of other themes (and page builders) both Daniel (of Indy’s I.T. Department and CYAMS) and Shawna have explored. Avada, Oxygen, Beaver Builder, and Elementor are all ones that have been explored. Thus far in their careers, Divi has provided much of what is required to provide a great website experience for our clients. The “what you see is what you get” (W.Y.S.I.W.Y.G.) option for the Divi builder enables our clients to make their own updates with a little bit of coaching and training. The Divi library of tutorials and blogs is enormous and the support community is simply amazing.

Divi is so popular that there are many other companies that have taken it upon themselves to create plugins (things you can add to your website to create various functions, like adding WooCommerce to make your website an e-commerce site). These add-ons range from pretty styled templates to digital accessibility improvements.

What Divi lacks.

Now don’t get me wrong, with as amazing as Divi is, there are some areas that are lacking. And the big one is accessibilty. Which is kind of ironic given that one of our main focuses is digital accessibility! That is why we thought it was so awesome that there were other people in the Divi community that thought the same thing – that digital accessibility is important. A group of developers (the website folks who know how to create things using code like html, css, php, etc) created an accessibility plugin that fixes a good chunk of the accessibility errors that are in the main Divi theme.

Accessible themes.

Speaking of digital accessibility, while we love Divi, we also love accessibility. It takes a little extra work to bring our sites up to accessibility standards. But for those who want something that requires less knowledge or backend work there are themes already coded and claim that they are accessible. Some these include Polyclinic, Icelander, Monument Valley, Cindy, Angelica, and others.

We may be biased, but the artist in Shawna really likes the way that we can make the site look using Divi. The nerd in Shawna really likes the way we can make the site work using Divi. Since 2016 when Shawna started building sites, WordPress has been the front runner when it comes to a content management system and place to build a website. Do you subscribe to our newsletter and the blog? If not, now might be a good time to do that. We are going to continue this series on website design and look at different options. We’ll be discussing things like building an ecommerce store versus using payment buttons from your preferred payment processor. We’ll be comparing sites like Squarespace, Shopify, and Subbly. As well as continue with the “How-To” series teaching and empowering you and our clients how to do basic websites updates on your own.

*This post contains affiliate links. We may receive compensation if you sign up and/or purchase using the links*

Written By Shawna Barnes

Shawna is the graphic and website designer at S. Barnes Designs. She studied graphic design after her medical retirement from the Army in 2011 and has been designing websites since 2016. She lives in northwestern Wisconsin with her husband, two dogs, and a cat.

You May Also Like …

DIY Website Builder Traps- A Series

DIY Website Builder Traps- A Series

As a small business owner, your options for building a website are many. A DIY website builder may be appealing; but there’s always more than meets the eye.

How to write good alt text

How to write good alt text

Do you know how to write good alt text? It can be confusing knowing how much – or how little – information to include.


Leave a Reply

Pin It on Pinterest