In 2005, WordPress became modular separating the design and architecture from the core programming code.
Today, a WordPress Theme contains files called template files that hold the architecture of the site and template tags, code that initiates actions within the site and data from the database. The design is applied through a stylesheet, holding the instructions for the colors, images, and look and feel of the entire site.
This tutorial covers the basics of the structure of a WordPress Theme and standard customization options.
The Structure of a WordPress Site
Like all websites today, a WordPress site contains a background area, header, sidebar(s), content area, and footer.
The background area is considered the canvas that the site’s structural and design elements rest. It is usually a solid color, pattern, texture, or a design that does not overwhelm the rest of the content and design elements.
The header area content is set from within the WordPress Administration Panels through the Settings > General for the site title and site tagline.
The header art image is set from within the Appearance > Custom Header Image. WordPress now permits a wide range of images and image sizes to be used as the custom header image, and permits some level of cropping and positioning.
The sidebar(s) contain navigation, information, and design elements that complement the site’s purpose and content. In WordPress, this information is held in WordPress Widgets, modular content elements that can be moved around in the various sidebars, footers, and occasionally the header area. These are accessed and modified in Appearance > Widgets.
The footer is located at the bottom of the site. It usually features the name of the WordPress Theme and its author to give them credit, and the words “Powered By WordPress” with a link to WordPress or WordPress.com. It may also feature footer Widgets accessed through Appearance > Widgets > Footer.
The content area holds the content of the page depending upon the request of the user to view the front page, a Page, a single post, a search, categories, tags, author posts, archives, and other multiple post pageviews. Continue reading →