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Advice from a Pro: Understanding Themes and Templates

A photographic image of two people working on their small business website, used as a feature image for a blog post about understanding themes and templates.

Editor’s note: An excerpt from Chapter 9 of WordPress For Dummies, 8th Edition is below. This particular chapter explains just how themes and templates work and how you, the website owner, can break down the anatomy of both to better understand their benefits. WordPress for Dummies, 8th Edition was written by eWebscapes founder and WordPress pioneer, Lisa Sabin-Wilson.

If, like me, you like to get your hands dirty, you need to read this chapter. WordPress users who create their own themes do so in the interest of

Individuality: You can have a theme that no one else has. (If you use one of the free themes, you can pretty much count on the fact that at least a dozen other WordPress websites will have the same look as yours.)

Creativity: You can display your own personal flair and style.

Control: You can have full control of how the site looks, acts, and delivers your content.

Many of you aren’t at all interested in creating your own theme for your WordPress website, however. Sometimes, it’s just easier to leave matters to the professionals and hire an experienced WordPress theme developer to create a custom look for your WordPress website or to use one of the thousands of free themes provided by WordPress designers (see Chapter 8). Chapter 16 also tells you where you can get ten free WordPress themes.

Creating themes requires you to step into the code of the templates, which can be a scary place sometimes — especially if you don’t really know what you’re looking at. A good place to start is by understanding the structure of a WordPress website. Separately, the parts won’t do you any good. But when you put them together, the real magic begins!

Key takeaways:

  • WordPress themes allow you to build a website specific to your individuality and personality.
  • WordPress themes also allow for full control.
  • With proper WordPress understanding, you can even manipulate the code within your template for further customization.

Purchase WordPress for Dummies, 8th Edition at a bookstore near you or online at Amazon.

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