One of the most common refrains I hear from clients is “I need a new theme”. This follows with a question that is a toss up between “Is it hard to switch?” and “How do I choose?”. Today’s post will very briefly cover the world of themes and WordPress with future posts covering specific issues I’ve encountered.
What is a WordPress theme?
As stated in the codex, “fundamentally, the WordPress Theme system is a way to “skin” your weblog. Yet, it is more than just a “skin.” Skinning your site implies that only the design is changed. WordPress Themes can provide much more control over the look and presentation of the material on your website.”.
There’s no one true way.
While most themes have similar elements and files, there are many different ways to make them. Take a moment to think about cloth: you can knit, crochet, weave, and felt fibers into fabric. They can then in turn be used to create unique articles of clothing/fashion.
Themes are quite similar. Beyond the standard theme structure, many developers have created frameworks to help jump start their customization process and provide a standard the next time they need a new theme. All frameworks result in a theme at the end of the day but they all approach it in a different manner, just as how knitting and crochet are different from each other even though they both create cloth.
It’s why you may see some developers working primarily with one particular theme, it’s techniques (and quirks) are those that they are familiar with. I believe that my background, both in technology and the fiber arts, allows me to work with a wider range of frameworks though I often have some documentation reading to do when I first encounter a new one.
Do I need a new theme?
Maybe yes. Maybe no.
I believe first and foremost you should focus on the content and organization of your site before you start changing how it looks and behaves. Once that is completed, then it’s time to have a discussion about different approaches and what makes sense for your particular situation.
Future posts will explore how to evaluate if a theme or framework is right for you, issues that you may encounter while changing themes, and more.