What is a Theme or Template?

Website Template Design

Designing Before Content Management Systems

Are you wondering what is a theme or template? Back when websites did not leverage a CMS (Content Management Solution), they typically had each page designed and programmed by hand. Web designers would often quote prices on a per page basis because of this. When people became more familiar with scripting languages such as ASP or PHP, they started to leverage include statements that would allow them to dynamically include headers, footers, and other content from a shared file that would cut down on the amount of work required if you wanted to change a menu item. Now you could change it in one file that would be included in the others.

The introduction of CSS also assisted with this by allowing the designer to place all of the style information, things like fonts, colors, margins, and backgrounds, in a single file that could be linked and shared across the website. This meant that if you wanted to change all of the fonts on your website from Times New Roman to Arial, you could do it with a change to a single file instead of manually updating every page of your website.

Revolution of Content Management Systems

It seems that the majority of websites online today take advantage of CMS architecture, whether they are true content-management-systems or not. No matter if it’s Joomla, WordPress, Drupal, DotNetNuke, Expression Engine, or even a custom CMS, chances are your site is leveraging this type of technology and if it isn’t it more than likely will be in the near future. The reason the CMS has become so popular is because people want the ability to be in control of their own website content.

A CMS simply takes advantage of a scripting language (like PHP), and in some situations, it also combines a framework (set of rules) to create an engine. Now all you need to do is load in your content and apply a template or theme. That brings us to the original question; What is a template or theme?

Website Templates and Themes

Remember the discussion about CSS at the beginning? A template is basically an organized set of files that you use to define what a site looks like. You’re separating the content (your text and photos) from the programming (the CMS) and the look of the site (the template).

So you can redesign your website without re-doing all of your content simply by replacing the template. In this sense, using a template is not a bad thing.

You may, however, have heard of people speaking poorly about templates. The implication is usually that templates are generic or off-the-shelf solutions. This is both true and false. A theme can be downloaded for free and applied to a WordPress website, but your website will look like other people who use that same theme, and the same is true of Joomla with templates and the other CMS. What people fail to realize is that you can create your own custom template that nobody else will have, just as if you were creating your own custom website 10 years ago. The key is just working with a programming team, like Mediaura, that can address your needs and make them work together seamlessly.

Mediaura specializes in creating beautiful responsive templates for all of the popular Content Management Systems. But if you are on a budget and want to use a canned solution, we can help you with that, and give it your own unique touch as well.

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