WordPress Themes vs. Templates

Is there really a difference?

Although the terms sound suspiciously alike, WordPress themes and templates are two different animals. To add to the confusion, the application throws page templates and theme frameworks into the mix. Each of these are built on WordPress, this does not include custom templates built outside of WordPress like this custom minecraft hosting site.

WordPress Themes

What other website creation tools normally call templates go by the name of themes in WordPress. These are what control the overall appearance of the website or blog. Although easier to use than theme frameworks, they offer fewer options, and not all are capable of extension. A good theme will, however, respond quickly and adapt well to a variety of mobile devices.

Child Themes

Themes that comply with the WordPress standard will normally allow you to append a child theme. These allow you to keep your customizations separate from the original layout, and it’s best to create one as soon as you can. Doing so will not only facilitate easy changes but also prevent your hot new features and security upgrades from wreaking havoc with the rest of your site.

Choosing a WordPress Theme

The out-of-the-box WordPress application offers a default theme that changes its name and capabilities with each succeeding year. The most recent, Twenty Fourteen, permits the creation of a magazine website and offers three widget areas for customization. It also provides the option of choosing a sidebar or full-page layout and allows the addition of a contributor page.

If the default theme doesn’t meet your needs, WordPress offers a directory of thousands more from which to choose.  Even then there are situations where you need a completely custom design to meet your specific needs, as in the case of this site that offers minecraft server hosting.

WordPress Theme Frameworks

Although similar to themes, theme frameworks offer a far greater degree of control, allowing the webmaster to customize the appearance and operation of an entire site. They also provide an easy way to turn features on and off, either globally or on a per-page basis, from within WordPress itself.

In many cases, the webmaster will need nothing more than a rudimentary knowledge of CSS or HTML to utilize a theme framework’s many capabilities. For those who are willing to master a somewhat steeper learning curve you may want to consider designing a site in HTML similar to https://ggservers.net/

WordPress Page Templates

As the name implies, these templates permit the customization of a single page while having no effect whatsoever on the rest of the site. This will make possible such widely divergent page-specific features as:

– Automated site maps.
– Directories.
– Full-width pages.
– Sidebars.
– Columns.
– Panoramas.
– Posts.

Page Templates are Theme-Specific

There is no such thing as a universal WordPress page template. Instead, each theme offers its own specific set. To access the ones that will work with yours, open a page for editing and click on the “Attributes” section. The template directory will pop up, allowing you to zero in on the look and capabilities you want that page to have.

If page templates interest you, make sure that the theme you choose offers them. Some do not, nor do they provide the opportunity to create your own. By definition, such themes are incompatible with the WordPress page template system and might not be exactly what you want.

Don’t Let Your Hard Work Go to Waste

Regardless of which theme, framework or page templates you decide to use, be sure to back up your entire site before you implement a single one. It’s all too easy to ruin a look that worked for you before. The ability to restore it quickly will save you untold trouble and ward off the angst and tears that could be waiting in the wings if you do not.