As one of the first open source content management systems (CMS) on the internet, WordPress was very influential in establishing the idea of building a website based on a pre-designed theme. Yes, website owners could download free templates for HTML-based websites before the introduction of the CMS model, but those templates were terribly difficult to work with and seldom looked professional. WordPress changed all that.
The whole idea behind WordPress was to create a CMS that could be used by the average computer user without any formal training in HTML coding. It proved to be a monumental success. WordPress continues to be the most used CMS online, bar none. But that’s another topic for another blog post. Let’s get back to the subject of themes.
There are four reasons WordPress developers decided on the theme concept:
1. Themes Eliminate the Need to Know Code
Prior to the introduction of the CMS model, website owners either had to learn HTML or use a WYSIWYG website development package to create their sites. Neither choice was all that attractive. To get around the restrictions of both, WordPress developers created the theme paradigm that now makes it possible for site owners to create beautiful and professional looking sites without any knowledge of coding. What themes and templates cannot do is usually made possible with plugins.
2. Theming Separates Style from Function
The average website owner is not all that interested in knowing how things function under the hood. As long as things work, site owners are happy. But site owners are interested in style and visual appearance. WordPress separates style from function so that site owners can modify the visual presentation without impacting underlying function.
3. Theming Allows for Customized Functions
The rare site owner who is concerned about function is still able to customize it through theming and plugins. Customizing through theming is obviously limited by the constraints of the chosen theme, but anything that cannot be done within the theme can be addressed through plugins. So in the end, site owners can still customize function if they want to – apart from knowing any kind of code.
4. Themes Allow for Quick Updates and Changes
One of the best aspects of the CMS model is its use of databases. In WordPress, all the information that comprises website content is stored in a database rather than on individual web pages. Stylesheets and templates are used to dictate how that database information is displayed to the site visitor. The result is that updates and changes to content can be affected very quickly. WordPress users simply bring up the content editor (it works like a word processor) and get to work. Updates and changes can be affected in mere minutes.
WordPress revolutionized the concept of website development by putting the power back in the hands of website owners. And because they chose to build websites on themes, they have made owning a website easier than it has ever been.
Need a WordPress theme? Check out the Genesis WordPress Child Themes.