Using a Wordpress theme for websites is becoming more and more common. But there is a right way to approach themes, and a wrong way.

Both at my day job and while freelancing, I’ve had clients show their reservations about using a theme for their website. I understand their hesitation, but themes have come a long way and when used right, are a powerful asset in web design (In case anyone is wondering, my site is built on the Uncode theme).


What is a Wordpress theme?

When people refer to Wordpress themes, they’re talking about a framework for your website. Themes allow you to easily change the layout and look of your website with little to no coding knowledge (although understanding HTML & CSS is extremely helpful).

Think of a theme like a bin of Legos; it gives you the resources to get rolling, but you can basically build it out however you’d like.

Most WordPress themes provide:

  • The overall design or style of your site
  • Font styling
  • Colors
  • Page layouts (or templates)
  • Styles for blog posts and blog archives
  • Additional stylistic details (social icons, menus, etc.)


What to look for in a theme

Not at themes are built the same, and you need to take into consideration what you’re looking for in your website and make sure that aligns with the theme’s capabilities. If you’re looking to launch an e-commerce site, building it off of a theme made for blogging is going to be a pain. 

A number of themes will list their desired market or industry, helping you establish a baseline when browsing themes.


How to use a theme

A Wordpress Theme is your foundation. A common pitfall with themes is that they can look generic or unoriginal. 

This happens when the individual building the website either: chooses an inflexible theme, or does not take enough liberties with customizing the theme. Color scheme, fonts, and photography can help a theme stand out.

When I start a theme site, some of the first things I change are:

  • Logo family
  • Color Palate
  • Font styles (Type of font body text and headlines)

Themes generally have a central location where you can edit these options allowing you to have a customized site.

Plugins like Visual Composer allow you to drag and drop elements into a page, allowing flexible and custom layouts, without any coding knowledge necessary.

While WYSIWYG editors like Visual Composer can allow anyone to build out a site, I still suggest hiring a web designer. As a skilled specialist, a web designer is going to be able to optimize a site by checking mobile responsiveness and editing content with CSS to override theme options, creating a more customzied expereience.