Do you know the difference between WordPress theme vs plugin? Well, many people don’t. Recently, I have received an email that included a question from one of my clients. It says “what should I use for my website, a theme or a plugin to enhance the functionality of my website?”. However, I tried my best to help him understand the entire concept and provided him with the correct answer according to his website needs. And that’s when I though of writing this guide for you all. In this post, I have tried to shed some light on when you should use a theme and when you should use a plugin for your website. So, let’s begin!

Having an online presence is an extremely significant aspect in order to establish your business in the digital realm. If you are a beginner then creating a website can be a little challenging task for you. Moreover, choosing the best content management system is another story altogether. But WordPress is one such platform that is not only simple but includes powerful features to make your website fully functional in no time. The kind of simplicity and flexibility WordPress has is just unmatched and you would love the final product. 

WordPress Theme vs Plugin 

The WordPress website development may seem a little tricky to some, especially beginners who are not so friendly with the WordPress nitty-gritty. Whereas, those who are familiar with WordPress know that working with this platform doesn’t include any complexities. Of course, when you create a website, you look for the best theme and best plugins for your website. So, that you never left behind for anything. But how can you be sure about which is better and required for your website – a theme or a plugin? 

Well, if you want to have a successfully running WordPress website, you should know when to install a WordPress theme and when to install a WordPress plugin. Furthermore, you should know which is which? Or WordPress theme vs plugin – what is the difference? Because many times people get confused about what exactly they should need to add in their WordPress website, either a WordPress theme or a WordPress plugin. 

What is a Theme?

A WordPress theme is defined as the design and layout of the website. Or simply put a theme determines the front look and feel of a website. The primary objective of the theme is to provide you a well-integrated structure for your WordPress website. And generally, themes are not meant for adding functionality to your website, though. But with the time, WordPress has developed and so are the things associated with it. When you first install WordPress, it comes with a default theme that is not so attractive and boring. However, there are tons of free WordPress themes available out there. Also, you can choose the premium WordPress themes from various sources. 

You can easily change the theme whenever you want to. Themes are easy to manage and customize. If you know to code then you can make changes to your theme with ease without facing any trouble. The WordPress library is loaded with thousands of pre-designed templates to choose from. Themes enable you to beautify your website by allowing you to change the color, style, widgets, page layout, button positions, etc. The next best thing is that you can customize your theme without having to alter the content of the website. And this way you can have desired kind of look of your WordPress website. 

Type of WordPress Themes

If you wish to know about the types of WordPress themes then you need to know that there is an array of WordPress themes available. Of course, out of which some are free WordPress themes, and some are paid premium themes to choose from. You can choose any theme that you think is best suitable for your business. 

Free WordPress Themes 

There are several professional web designers who design WordPress themes and make them available for free. Yes! They create themes for different purposes as in different categories such as Wedding, Photography, Portfolio, Hobby, Game, Farming, Agriculture, Technical, SEO, Business, Music, Hotel, Education, Architecture, Law, Dance, and many more categories. The WordPress web designers design themes in all these categories and make them available for everyone out there. That too for free. 

However, the only drawback of free WordPress themes is that you never know how many others are using the same theme that you have selected for your website. Therefore, if you are running a small-scale website, then using a free theme won’t harm your website and its reputation. 

Premium WordPress Themes 

Premium WordPress themes as the name specifies are the themes for which you have to pay some amount. Generally premium themes are paid. Not all themes have the same price. However, they vary in price. Similar to free WordPress themes, paid WordPress themes are also divided into categories such as Wedding, Business, Charity, Construction, Nature, Agriculture, Farming, Portfolio, Photography, Architecture, Web Design, Web Development, SEO, and several more. 

However, the best thing about the premium WordPress theme is that they come with a reliable code as well as premium customer support to help you with your issues and problems. Premium WordPress themes ensure great security for your WordPress website, irrespective of the size of your website.  

What is a Plugin?

WordPress plugins have very little to do with the styling of the page. As the main objective of a plugin is to provide you with some additional functionality. If I say in a layman language, a plugin helps you include some extra features to your website which does not come with the already working theme. For instance, if you have created a website for offering some online services to your clients. But after some time, if you want to sell your products along with the services, then that can not be possible with a simple WordPress website. In that case, you need to install the WooCommerce plugin in your WordPress website to convert it to an eCommerce website, so that you can sell your products. 

This means you have added new functionality to your plain WordPress website, by installing a plugin. Not much but minor styling options will come along the plugin so that you will be able to make it matched with your existing WordPress theme. However, usually, plugins have the theory of their own styling. But sometimes you are able to override the code and make the changes according to your own website requirements and goals. So, this is how you can use plugins to make your website something more than it used to be. 

WordPress Theme vs Plugin – How to Decide If You Need a Theme or Plugin for Your WordPress Website

Generally, it is easy to estimate what you need for your WordPress website either a theme or a plugin. That being said, if you want to modify your website’s front end look and appearance, then you should go for a new WordPress theme. Whereas, on the contrary, if you want to include some specific feature to your WordPress website, then you should go for a new WordPress plugin. It is essential to keep a plugin functionality segregated from WordPress themes while managing your WordPress web development. 

A WordPress theme has a huge effect on the website as compared to the plugins installed. Changing a website’s theme can be a challenging task for beginners and for those who are not sure about their technical skills. It takes a lot of things to be aligned properly so that your website can work in the correct manner. Nevertheless, adding or removing plugins to your website doesn’t involve much technical knowledge. However, having some will always benefit you in some way. 

And talking about how to decide whether you need a plugin or theme for your website, boils down to the kind of addition you want to make on your website. Go through your website once and see what new changes you want to make. If the changes you wish to make are related to design and layout then you need to find a beautiful theme for your website. On the other hand, if you are planning to extend your WordPress website’s functionality in some or the other way, then you should find an appropriate plugin for that. 

What’s the Difference Between WordPress Theme vs Plugin – In Conclusion 

So, this brings us to the end of this informatory guide. There are certain things that can help you beautify your WordPress website. And WordPress theme and plugin are the two most obvious choices and factors that play an integral role to strengthen your website. Now you must know that a WordPress theme is responsible for the design and layout of your website. Whereas, on the other hand, a plugin helps you add some additional functionality to your WordPress website. And that also defines that a website can have a single theme installed. Whereas, unlike themes, you can have multiple plugins installed across a WordPress website.   

So, when you select a theme make sure you are choosing it entirely on the basis of its design and layout and not for the functionality. Similarly, choose a plugin for its functionality not for its design. And this way you can make your WordPress website fully working. And the usage of themes and plugins depend on the kind of service or product you are offering.  So which WordPress theme or plugin you are using for your website do let me know in the comments below.