It’s time to review a basic WordPress concept. Today we will see the difference between WordPress themes and plugins, what is the role that each one should play, and the role that a theme should NEVER play. Read on and here we tell you how to install several plugins at the same time in WordPress.
The themes have the mission to dress with style (styles) our WordPress, that is to say, to make it beautiful at the levels: structure and attributes. Let’s see what each one is:
Structure: We talk about structure when we refer to the location of things. In other words, where each element goes: the header, the content, the text, the sidebar (if it exists), the menu, etc. To understand, it is the scheme that distributes what in the code are called “divs”, which would be the sections that make up the page. Here we can choose where everything goes and in what order. If we want to show the featured image before or after the title, or the categories, or the share buttons, etc.
Attributes: Once we have the layout, we can go into more detail, to format each of the elements that make up the page: font, font size, alignment, space between paragraphs, colours, backgrounds, margins, etc. This can be specified element by element.
Important: Only one theme can be active on a website.
Plugins (add-ons, extensions)
Plugins have little to do with the style of the page, as their function is to add functionality to WordPress. In other words, to make it do something new that it did not do “out of the box”. For example, selling products. It is clear that WordPress does not do that function, if we do not add any plugin for it, such as WooCommerce. That plugin is adding to it, adding a new functionality.
Obviously, when a plugin adds something to the front end (what the user sees, i.e. the website), it has to give it a bit of styling to make it look relatively “pretty”, and that’s why many plugins have their own styles. But if the developer has done it right, it should always be possible to override them so that the theme uses its own specific ones.
Important: There can be multiple plugins active on a website.
Having said that, let’s move on to the key point of this article: What should a theme, template theme NOT have?
What should not have a theme?
A theme should NEVER have functionalities, as that is the job of the plugins. Therefore, be careful with those themes that say they have “everything”, because they are the most dangerous ones. Some examples would be:
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Even eCommerces
No one in their right mind would ever think of having an eCommerce linked to a theme. Why? Basically because you run a huge risk. If you ever want to change your theme… you lose everything. Here i tell you What happens When you CHANGE your WordPress THEME.
I guess you can see the danger of relying on the functionality of a theme. Just like what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, what happens in a theme stays in the theme. And since we can only have one theme active, the moment we change theme, all those wonderful features disappear. Solution: Use plugins! If we do it through plugins, we can change the theme as many times as we want without problems, because the plugins “stay there” even if we are constantly changing our theme 🙂
When choosing a theme, choose it purely for the design, but not for the functionalities. It would be best to always use themes that do NOT have a single one, but that come prepared with the styles and CSS of the main WordPress plugins (WooCommerce, Jetpack, bbPress, etc).