One of the biggest advantages of a content management system is the ability to easily change the look of your site without having to redo all your pages, and WordPress makes it easy with its use of themes. With thousands of themes (free and paid) to choose from, the question is this: How do you choose?
The key to choosing a theme is not to be taken in by looks. That sounds strange to say when one of the principal tasks of a theme is to control the look of your site. But when you understand what themes do and how they can differ widely, you'll understand that “looks aren't everything.”
What Is a WordPress Theme?
A theme is a set of files, graphics, and scripts that, most obviously, controls the look of your site: layout, colors, typography, and so on. However, behind the scenes, these theme files perform an equally, if not more, important job.
Think of WordPress as a set of functions waiting to be used—functions that pull information from a database, manipulate it, organize it, and display it. It's your theme that makes use of those functions to output the content that's stored in the database, and at that point applies the design elements.
WordPress themes have two distinct roles:
Figure 27.1 A shows the default Twenty Fourteen theme for Island Travel with a lot of files to run the site, of which only one is solely devoted to looks—the CSS style sheet.
Figure 27.1 B shows some of the coding in a ...