If you’ve been using WordPress long enough, you’ve undoubtedly heard the terms “WordPress theme” and “WordPress template.” You might actually hear people using them interchangeably when discussing WordPress.
But believe it or not, these terms actually mean two different things! In fact, it’s pretty important for you to know how they’re distinct from each other. In this article, we’ll break down how WordPress themes and WordPress templates differ so that you’re well-equipped to use each one to the fullest.
What is a WordPress Theme?
In simple terms, a WordPress theme is like the outfit for your website. It determines your website’s overall design, including but not limited to your color choice, font choice, website sections, and more. Think of it as the general look and feel that wraps around your content, setting the visual tone for your website visitors.
And as we discussed before, WordPress themes are important. Let’s go back to the outfit example. If you presented yourself during a meeting with investors and you were dressed up in only a wife beater and shorts, you probably wouldn’t be taken seriously, right?
Your choice of theme will help your brand and business be taken seriously. That’s the reason why some people invest in custom WordPress themes. And, of course, a good theme will keep your site secure, keep user experience top of mind, be responsive to any device, and help your website rank well in search engine results.
WordPress Theme Examples
If you’re looking for examples of a WordPress theme, well, according to Hubspot, back in 2022, there were already 31,000 WordPress themes in total, including premium options! 11,283 free options are housed in WordPress.org. In short, if you need examples, you won’t have difficulty looking for one.
But remember, the best WordPress themes are those that actually cater to a specific audience or niche. There are many generic, one-size-fits-all designs, but a targeted theme provides more specific and tailored functionalities and aesthetics that resonate with a particular group of users. Those are the themes you should take note of, especially if you’re looking to use one or if you’re planning to build one for commercial purposes.
Why? Well, by choosing a theme that aligns closely with your needs and preferences, or that of your target audience, you enhance user experience, boost engagement, and increase the likelihood of achieving your business goals.
Here are some specific examples:
The Audio Player theme is one that’s specially designed for musicians or probably for podcasters as well. As you can see, you can feature podcast episodes or songs on the front page, as well as make a shop for merchandise. The design itself looks pretty easy to navigate—perfect for a good user experience.
Life Coach Agency
If you or your client are a life coach, then the Life Coach Agency theme is perfect for your needs. The color orange, for example, already shows that you are a positive and enthusiastic person. Can you visualize your own logo, taglines, and images on the site already?
You know what else is great? If you are not a life coach but are still some kind of coach, you can still use this theme. For example, if you’re a relationship coach, change the orange to red—still applicable, agree?
Cake Bakery is a theme that’s perfect for food business owners. If you or your client want to sell baked goods, it’s easy to do with this responsive theme. Can you imagine all your delicious food displayed on your website with this theme?
See? The more niched down a theme is, the easier it is to determine what it’s for—and the more of that niche will be attracted to use the theme. Check out the theme demos here in InstaWP for more examples.
How do you create a WordPress theme?
Want to create your own theme? Well, we outlined three ways you can do it in this article, but to recap:
- You can tweak an existing theme, whether you bought one or you downloaded a free one from WordPress. Change the colors, the font, the layout, and so on.
- You can create one from a completely blank theme. With this method, ideation starts from you since you literally have to start from scratch.
- You can also use various WordPress Page builders. With their no-code capabilities, you’ll practically have an instant WordPress theme in no time!
What is a Typical WordPress template?
So, now we know what a WordPress theme is. But what’s a WordPress template?
A WordPress template is a blueprint for a specific page on your WordPress website. While a theme sets your website’s overall design and look, a template determines the layout of specific pages or post types. It defines how the content on that page will be displayed, including the layout, design, and functionality.
WordPress templates are written in PHP code, but you don’t need to be a programmer to use them. After all, most WordPress themes come with a variety of templates that you can choose from. You can even make your own custom templates.
Does the above sound complicated? Let’s try using this simple analogy or explanation to help you understand WordPress templates:
Think of your WordPress website as your house. While your chosen WordPress theme is the overall design and style of the house, the WordPress templates are the individual rooms in the house. Or, if we go back to the clothing analogy we used earlier, think of themes as your website’s outfit, while templates are the arrangement of your pockets, buttons, and stitching on your outfit.
Can you envision what a WordPress template is now?
What is an example of a WordPress template?
Let’s get more specific with actual examples of WordPress templates, such as:
Single Post Template (single.php): This template controls individual blog posts’ appearance. When you click on a blog title and read the full post, you view it through the design laid out in the “single.php” template.
Page Template (page.php): This one dictates the layout of individual pages, such as an About Page or Contact Page.
Archive Template (archive.php): When you view a list of blog posts from a specific month, category, or tag, you typically look at the archive template. It displays summarized versions of each post in that category or date range.
Search Results Template (search.php): When using the search bar on a WordPress site, the results list will be displayed using this template, however you want it to appear.
404 Error Template (404.php): This template occurs when a visitor tries to access a page that doesn’t exist on your site. A “Page Not Found” message is the standard warning or message to that visitor.
Full-Width Page Template: Some themes offer a template that stretches across the full width of the screen, removing sidebars. This is useful if you have landing pages or visual portfolios where you want to showcase large images or graphics without the viewer being distracted.
Grid Layout Template: This template can display blog posts in a grid pattern, much like a photo gallery.
Redefining Templates In InstaWP
The templates we mentioned above are very important for WordPress websites. However, here at InstaWP, there’s another meaning when we say WordPress templates.
As we said in this article, a WordPress template is a saved version of a WordPress site that is available for public use and was first created inside InstaWP. And since you’ve tested everything already inside InstaWP, you can be sure that it’s safe and ready to be used by anyone.
Imagine the power of a pre-made template with plugins and protection—and one that you use for the base of all the websites you create. You’ll save so much time in developing WordPress sites. Whether you’re an agency, an individual developer, or a freelance professional, all this simply means you’ll be able to create more websites, serve more customers, and earn more revenue in the process!
And speaking of more revenue, you can also sell these templates in InstaWP’s template store.
How do you create a WordPress template using InstaWP?
But if you already know how to use InstaWP and have a website you want to transform, read on. This has been discussed here already, but let’s do a quick recap.
In your InstaWP Dashboard, search for the Templates Option on the top menu bar. Click on it.
In the next screen, click the Add New + button on the right side of the screen.
In the next screen, choose the name of the site you want to make as a template.
Save your template, describe it, and then press the Save button.
You’ll get notified that it’s a success and see your template in the template list.
Congratulations, you now have a template you can reuse every single time! If you want to create a site from this template, go back to sites and then press the Add New + button. Check out the screen:
Every time you want to make a website with the same base settings, you can now do this every single time!
WordPress Themes Vs. InstaWP Templates: What’s Better?
Here’s the question now: which is better, WordPress templates or WordPress themes? After all, they do serve amazing purposes.
So, rest assured that InstaWP is not biased by any means. After all, we do carry both themes and templates on our site.
However, we do find that WordPress templates are more advantageous. First of all, speed is of the essence when it comes to website development. When it comes to themes, speed is not as possible since you’ll have to either create a theme from scratch or test everything before you can finally say that the theme is safe for use.
On the other hand, templates have already been tested via InstaWP, so you know they’re safe, stable, and can be used repeatedly.
Plus, as discussed in this article, when it comes to templates, you can:
- Offer website creation as a service
- Save more money—not just time—because you can just use a ready-made template that you know is safe to use instead of investing a lot of money in website creation
- Make additional money by signing up as a seller in InstaWP and monetizing your templates
- Share them with others since you can use your templates as a lead magnet to get email addresses or simply give value to your audience and build your value, which is a good investment in the long run.
In short, themes are great, but templates have much more use and better results in the long run.
WordPress templates and themes are used interchangeably, but they mean two different things. As mentioned earlier, a WordPress theme is the instant appearance of your site, while a template is more about the site’s details. And in the case of InstaWP, templates are themes that have been developed in the WordPress sandbox and can be used quickly for developers and companies looking for efficiency and reliability.
While in terms of speed and efficiency, templates are preferable to themes, themes are still important—they’re the basis of the templates you’ll make, after all! And when you pair them, you get a toolset for crafting unique, efficient, and purposeful WordPress sites.
And isn’t that something every WordPress developer could want and need?