WordPress Essentials – Learn About Themes, Demos, Plugins, and Builders
If you are looking to create your first site, you’ve probably heard about WordPress, since it’s one of the most popular website platforms out there. However, if you are not sure what WordPress is, and how you can use it, keep reading.
In this detailed guide, we will cover WordPress essentials, so you will learn about WordPress as CMS, WordPress themes, WordPress plugins, and WordPress builders. Also, we will explain the first steps you need to take to build your site. Without further ado, let’s dive into the powerful world of WordPress.
In a nutshell, WordPress is a free platform that allows you to build and maintain sites fast, simple and safe. In combination with WordPress themes, plugins, and website builders, WordPress makes the best toolbox that contains everything you will ever need to create the site of your dreams.
WordPress is a CMS (content management system) that can be enriched with themes and plugins, and that perfectly integrates with website builders that allow you to add, delete or customize elements without coding knowledge. In other words, WordPress is the core where you can add additional tools (plugins, themes…).
What is important to say is that WordPress can’t exist as per se – the theme should be installed on WordPress so that it can be used for website building. If this sounds confusing, don’t worry; we will come back to this later, in more detail.
There are two types of WordPress themes – free and paid. In case you want to use a free theme, you can go to WordPress.org, which is an official library of WordPress themes. Here you can download themes for free. These themes are tested and controlled by WordPress, so you can be sure they come without bags. Different features, versatile design styles, and layouts made for different niches make these themes a great option for WordPress beginners.
No matter which niche you want to cover, you can browse through thousands of themes that are developed by different authors. Besides WordPress.org where you can find modern free themes, there are theme markets where you can buy premium WordPress themes.
As we’ve already said, WordPress as a platform cannot function without an installed theme. Why? Because every theme comes with a set of files that offer different features and functionalities. Basically, these features determine how our website pages will look like. Everything from fonts and colors to the type of pages we can build (blog, portfolio, or shop), comes packed with the theme we install.
To put this differently, a theme includes all the features that are the essence of its visual and functional character. So, before you choose and get one theme, always go through its list of features and layout options to see what it offers.
Let’s take Twenty One Theme as an example. This theme can be found on WordPress.org and you can easily preview its features in case you like it.
Here we can see a nice pastel green background, elegant fonts, as well as its interesting gallery – each theme may offer a different kind of image gallery. On top of this, on this theme, we see different columns, minimalistic footer section, and social media icons that lead to social media channels. After we install this theme, the content on our site will be styled as shown in this preview, but we can decide which elements should be added/removed. Of course, this example doesn’t illustrate all the elements this theme includes. To learn more about the theme’s features, you can go through all the pages or read the theme description and a list of options.
As we already said, a theme determines the colors, fonts, and other elements that appear on our site. However, each theme offers a unique set of settings and customization options. For instance, in case you like everything about the Twenty One Theme except its green background, you can change it following your preferences.
When you’re searching for the perfect theme, choose the style and design vibe you like, and change everything you don’t like through customization options. Have in mind that different themes have different settings and customization options, so pay attention to this before you get your theme. Besides Twenty One Theme that’s pretty basic, many other free themes deserve your attention. One of them is Qi Theme.
This free theme can be found on WordPress.org where you can read more about its collection of features. Let’s preview it to see what it has to offer.
Just by scrolling down, you will notice the complexity of this theme. There are different types of demos. Unlike Twenty One Theme which only has one design option, Qi gives you a chance to choose between different demos.
Each demo gives you new possibilities and shows different design directions. The good thing about more advanced themes like Qi is the large number of demos you can choose from. Plus, you can use not only one demo but also combine different demos to get the site that suits your needs.
Let’s take the Cake shop demo as an example. Below the lovely hero slider, we see elegant galleries that showcase cakes, testimonials, and many other website elements. If you like this theme, you can use it not only for this niche – just change the images with other product types and you’re ready to go.
Toy Store demo is another interesting demo example. Compared to Twenty One theme which has a basic blog page, Toy Store has not only a blog page but a shop page as well. So, if you plan to build a shop website, this demo is a better option than Twenty One theme.
Have in mind that one demo doesn’t show everything one theme can cover. For this reason, before you make a purchase, always read the complete list of features to be sure what the possibilities are.
Now that we clarified the differences between WordPress and WordPress themes, as well as between the WordPress themes and demos, we can go further. Let’s dive into the magical world of WordPress plugins.
Plugins are tools that will give additional functionalities to your theme. Let’s take the Twenty One theme as an example once again. As we already said, this theme doesn’t include shop features or pages. If you like the general vibe of this theme more than the Toy Store demo (which has many shop features), and you want to use Twenty One Theme for your online store, you need to install the right plugin to be able to do so. Just go to WordPress.org plugins and find the one that you need.
WooCommerce is one of the best-known and most popular shop plugins, so it’s a great option for any site that requires eCommerce options. Of course, this plugin is not the only eCommerce tool, so you can try and use other options as well.
Apart from shop plugins, you can find tons of plugins that cover versatile functionalities. For example, if we want to create a calendar but your theme doesn’t have this feature, all you have to do is look for calendar plugins.
After we input the term calendar in the search field, many options will appear. To find the perfect one, we need to compare suggested options – their design, ratings, number of downloads, and the list of features.
Before we explain WordPress builders in detail, let’s sum up what we have learned so far. So, WordPress is the core on which we install a WordPress theme that can be enriched with plugins – tools that bring additional functionalities to the themes. On the other hand, builders allow us to add/remove elements or sections without writing a single line of code.
Gutenberg builder and Elementor builder are the two most popular builders of the moment. Gutemberg builder is developed by WordPress, while Elementor is the product of Elementor LTD, an Israeli-based software company.
To explain how builders work, we will once again return to Twenty One theme and the Qi theme. The first theme uses the Gutenberg builder for adding elements. This builder is known as a block backend builder. This builder is constantly improving – more and more it evolves into a builder that lets us see the final result right away. On the other hand, the Qi theme uses Elementor page builder, which is a live editor – every change we make is instantly visible.
Gutenberg is a default WordPress builder, so you will get it right after you install WordPress. This is a backend builder that uses the technology of blocks for adding/removing the content.
Qi theme uses Elementor page builder. This builder allows you to add content by using different widgets. Also, you will instantly see every change you make, without leaving the page.
To show you how builders work, we will create two separate pages. One will be used to illustrate Gutenberg and its features, while other pages will be used for Elementor testing.
The first is called Test Gutenberg and it allows you to add content through blocks.
Let’s clarify one thing. As you can see, on the image above we can set and adjust this particular page and page style, not just the page content. Also, these settings/options may vary from theme to theme.
Apart from this, there is a right sidebar with a large number of adjustment options. This sidebar includes some other general page settings but also lets us adjust the blocks we are using on our page.
Now, let’s start adding blocks. There are two ways to do this – by clicking the + sign on the right side or by clicking + sign placed in the top, left corner.
For starters, we will add paragraph and image blocks.
When we add a certain block, it will automatically be shown on the page and used for content adding. That content can be anything – text, image or anything else supported by that block. As per block options, you can find them in the sidebar. These options will let us style the appearance of the block.
Depending on your needs, you can add any other block type (a button, for instance). Gutenberg offers versatile block options. However, theme authors often develop their own, unique Gutenberg blocks.
Since we have added everything we wanted, we first have to publish the page.
Next, we click > View page and our page will appear in a new tab. In other words, we have to take a few steps to be able to see the changes we have made.
Let’s now create the second page and explore Elementor builder. This page is named Test Elementor.
As you can see, this page also opens Gutenberg editor and its settings, as it’s a default WordPress editor. We will use these options to set the page. However, to adjust the content, we will use the Elementor page builder.
As you can see, Elementor is a live editor with a lot of widget options placed in the left section. Right after you add desired widgets, you will instantly see the change on the page – in Gutenberg you have to use a preview button that will open the page in a new tab.
Besides the default Elementor widgets, there are additional widgets that are developed by different authors. Let’s just clarify one thing – these so-called widgets are plugins for Elementor. In most cases a large number of widgets is packed in one plugin that brings you tons of options after the installation. Qi brings a huge collection of custom-made Elementor widgets packed exclusively with this theme – all of them are marked with red color, so you can easily locate them.
Based on your needs, you can add any widget you like. Just select it from the widget section and drop it on the page surface on the right side.
Content adding and widget stylization is done in the sidebar, while the changes can be followed on the right side.
Although Elementor has great user-friendly options and may seem more intuitive than Gutenberg, you can easily learn to use both of the builders. Especially, if you are a complete beginner. In past, we frequently used WPBakery Page builder, which is another backend website building tool. It took us a little time to switch to Elementor – a live preview page builder.
Today, we use Elementor constantly, as it became our favorite page builder. So, don’t choose your theme based on the builder it supports, as you may adapt to any option easily.
In combination with the right theme, plugins and builders, WordPress is the perfect choice for any website type. In case you want to build your first site, these articles will help you do it with ease. These are the steps you need to take if you want to get started with WordPress.
Choose Your Domain Name
There is no site without a domain name. Learn how to find a perfect name and check out the best domain name tips.
Find the Right Hosting
Finding the right hosting provider can be tricky, so save your time and check out our list of the best hosting providers.
Login to WordPress
Before you start customizing your site, you have to learn how to login to WordPress.
Explore Admin Dashboard
This tutorial will help you understand the WordPress admin dashboard so you can use it fully.
Once you find your perfect theme, you will have to install it. Check out this tutorial, that will walk you through WordPress theme installation.
When the theme is installed, you can start exploring plugins that will bring additional functionalities. Learn how to install plugins with ease.
Enjoy the Customization!
Lastly, change colors, fonts, dimensions – explore what your theme has to offer and build the site of your dreams.
We hope this article was helpful. If you liked it, feel free to check out some of these articles as well!