Basic components of a WordPress theme

A WordPress theme affects your site’s presentation. WordPress allows admins to modify templates, remove, or upload new ones. However, when it comes to WordPress theme development, you need to know about the essential components of a WordPress theme.

WordPress works on PHP, a programming language used to make dynamic web applications. Along with PHP, other languages including HTML, CSS, and JavaScript are involved in designing, styling, and structuring a WordPress theme.

With that in mind, you need to know about the file structure of a WordPress theme. Also, knowing the purpose of the files helps you develop WordPress themes with ease.

Today’s write-up talks about necessary files and elements of a WordPress theme. Also, as a beginner, today’s article helps you understand the basics of a WordPress theme functionality.

Components of a WordPress theme

A WordPress theme is made of coding files (PHP, CSS, JavaScript) and directories. Coding files or source files generate different aspects of a WordPress theme such as posts, pages, and comments. Also, the WordPress theme includes specific directories (folders) that contain theme files, admin resources, and website’s data.

Let’s proceed to address components or files of a WordPress theme.

  • Index.php forms a WordPress site’s home page. When you visit a WordPress website, index.php is the first file called by the browser. It is probably one of the first files you create while developing a WordPress theme.
  • Style.css defines the style and layout of a WordPress theme. If you need to change your site’s colors, margins, and backgrounds, you make changes in the style.css file. Style.css is composed of CSS code, which refers to (source code) responsible for the style and layout of a page. For more information on editing the Style.css file, head over to this tutorial.
  • Wp-config.php file contains login information for a WordPress website. It is probably one of the most critical components of WordPress. Wp-config.php requires security precautions, proper read/write file permissions, and access controls for security measures.
  • Wp-content refers to the directory that contains WordPress themes, uploads, and plugins. In a WordPress website, wp-content holds metadata for a WordPress website.
  • Header.php file makes your site’s top section or area. In a WordPress site, the header contains a menu bar, logo, and navigation of a WordPress website.
  • Footer.php is similar to header.php but different in positions. Footer refers to the lower area of a WordPress website. The footer area contains widgets, links, and copyright statements.
  • Comments.php controls comments on a WordPress website. Although you can change comments settings in the dashboard, you can make changes in the comments.php file, such as changing the comments style and design, layout, and fonts.
  • Sidebar.php file contains code that displays a sidebar on a WordPress website. In most cases, a sidebar consists of different widgets on a site, such as recent posts and lead capture forms.
  • 404.php file creates a page for not-found resources on a WordPress website. For example, if someone tries to access a Not-found page on your site, a 404 response is issued to the browser which shows an error message to the viewer.
  • Single.php file creates a separate page for the blog post. When you click on a read more link, the page you see is what we expect from the single.php file.
  • Page.php does the same as single.php. As its name indicates, Page.php file contains code that creates a separate page for a page. Somehow, there is a difference between Pages and Posts. Pages contain information about a company, whereas the Post is composed of information about a specific topic such as WordPress basic terminologies. Head over to pages and posts explanation in a WordPress website.
  • Functions.php holds different functions to increase a website’s functionality. With functions, you can improve the WordPress functionality, theme features, and the way posts and pages are filled with different information.
  • Screenshot.png shows the theme’s homepage. It shows a default or standard image of a site’s homepage. For instance, you can see your theme’s screenshot on the themes page.
  • Search.php file controls the search functionality of a WordPress website. With search.php, you can define the way WordPress deals and shows search results on your WordPress website.

Over to you

We learned about the necessary components of a WordPress theme.

Knowing the basic structure of a WordPress theme is vital for two reasons. First, you obtain the necessary knowledge and second, it improves developmental skills.

Each file or component in a WordPress theme defines a specific domain in the subject. If you want to change something, you will need to find and edit the respective file.

However, you may need to hire experts for changing your site’s files. It is something you should deal with carefully.

For more information on the WordPress themes, head over to our WordPress Knowledge Base.

In case of questions or problems, let us know by joining the conversation in the comments.

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