What is a WordPress Template

When diving into the world of WordPress, you might come across the term template quite often. A WordPress template is a preset layout that defines how your website will look and feel. These templates include different design elements like headers, sidebars, and footers, which can be reused across multiple pages of your site. Understanding what is a WordPress template can greatly enhance how you manage and customize your website.

Templates aren’t just designs; they are made up of various blocks and elements that you can adjust to suit your needs. This allows you to give each page or post a unique design without starting from scratch every time. Templates save you time and ensure that your site has a consistent look.

Using templates is also a core part of working with WordPress themes. Themes are collections of templates and styles that provide a cohesive design for your entire site. By selecting the right combination of themes and templates, you can build a professional-looking website that stands out.

Understanding WordPress templates

A WordPress template shapes how content appears on your site. Think of it as a custom layout for your pages or posts.

Templates are part of a theme. They help you define the look and feel of different parts of your site. Each template can be unique and designed for specific content types.

What is the template hierarchy?

In WordPress, the template hierarchy decides which template file to use for displaying content. This system starts with the most specific template and falls back to more general ones if needed. For instance, a specific product page will first try to use a dedicated product template. If it doesn’t exist, WordPress will use a more general page template. This ensures that content is displayed consistently while allowing for customization for different content types. 

PHP and HTML in templates

PHP and HTML are essential in building WordPress templates. PHP is used to retrieve content from the WordPress database, while HTML is used to structure and display this content on the web page.

<?php get_header(); ?>

<div class="content">

    <?php while ( have_posts() ) : the_post(); ?>

        <h1><?php the_title(); ?></h1>

        <div><?php the_content(); ?></div>

    <?php endwhile; ?>


<?php get_footer(); ?>

Types of templates

WordPress templates are a powerful feature that allows users to customize their website’s layout and design without extensive coding knowledge. These templates define the appearance and structure of different parts of a website, ensuring consistency and coherence in design. By utilizing templates, users can easily modify the look and feel of their site, from the header and footer to the main content areas and sidebars. 

Templates can be as simple or complex as needed, offering a wide range of customization options to fit various content types and purposes. This flexibility makes WordPress an ideal platform for creating unique and engaging websites, catering to both novice users and experienced developers. Some common templates you might find in WordPress themes include:

  • Index template: The most basic template file.
  • Single post template: Displays individual blog posts.
  • Page template: Used for static pages.
  • Category template: Shows a list of posts in a specific category.
  • Header and footer templates: Define the top and bottom sections of your site.

What are the benefits of using WordPress templates

WordPress templates help you design and arrange how your website looks. They manage how your pages and posts are displayed. This means you don’t need to code everything from scratch.

Key roles of WordPress templates

Beyond defining the overall look and feel of your website, WordPress templates play a significant role in structuring and maintaining consistency across your webpages. Here are some of the key roles of WordPress templates:

  • Provide structure: Templates have specific layouts, such as headers, footers, and sidebars, making your site organized.
  • Ensure consistency: They ensure all your pages have a unified look so your site doesn’t seem jumbled.

Customizing templates

Customizing templates in WordPress lets you create a unique look for different parts of your website. You can design or tweak templates to fit your needs, making your site look cohesive and professional.

Using custom templates helps you make a WordPress site that’s visually appealing and functional, enhancing the user experience.


Templates provide great flexibility, allowing you to design different pages of your website to suit their specific purposes. Here’s how:

  • Varied designs:
      • Different looks: You can give each page a unique design. For example, your blog page can look different from your contact page.
      • Consistent branding: Even with different designs, you can keep your brand’s colors, fonts, and logo the same on all pages.
  • Enhanced user experience (UX):
      • Optimized layouts: Templates help create user-friendly layouts, making it easier for visitors to find what they need.
      • Responsive design: Many templates adjust to different screen sizes, ensuring your site looks good on desktops, tablets, and smartphones.
  • Easy maintenance:
    • Consistent updates: Templates make it easy to update the design of multiple pages at once.
    • Scalability: As your website grows, you can easily add new pages using templates without starting from scratch.

In summary, templates offer flexible designs for different pages, enhance user experience, and simplify the maintenance and growth of your website.

Easy updates

When you update a template, changes apply automatically to all pages using that template. This saves time and ensures consistency. By using WordPress templates, you can efficiently manage your website’s design and layout without needing deep technical skills.

Common types of WordPress templates

In WordPress, templates define how your content is displayed on your site. Different types of templates help you manage and present various parts of your website, from the homepage to individual posts and archive pages.

1. Homepage templates

Homepage templates are used to design the main page of your site. Depending on the theme, this template can vary widely. Some themes include a specialized Home template with unique features, while others might rely on the Index template if no Home template is available. The layout often includes crucial elements such as the header, sidebar, and footer, providing visitors with a clear and engaging view of your content right from the start.

2. Index templates

The index template is a fallback template that many themes use to display the main listing of your site’s content. It is often employed when other specific templates are not available. This template typically includes a basic layout with a header, footer, and content area displaying a list of posts or pages. It ensures that your site can always present content in a structured format, even if more specialized templates are missing.

3. Front page templates

The front page template is used specifically for the front page of your site. This can be a static page you’ve set to be the first page visitors see, or it can be a dynamic page showing your latest posts. This template is customizable to ensure your front page meets your site’s goals. Whether showcasing a blog, a business, or a portfolio, this template helps highlight your most important content effectively.

4. Page templates

Page templates are used to create specific layouts for individual pages on your site. These templates can be customized for different purposes, such as a contact page, an about page, or any other specialized page you need. They allow you to present pages with a unique look and feel, distinct from your posts or the homepage, making your site more dynamic and user-friendly. Some themes come with several pre-built page templates, while others let you create your own.

5. Single post templates

Single post templates are designed to display individual blog posts. This template includes sections like the post title, content, metadata, and comments. Often, it incorporates elements like the sidebar and footer to keep the user engaged. By using single post templates, you can ensure each post is presented in a consistent and appealing manner, enhancing readability and user experience on your blog.

6. Archive templates

Archive templates are used to display lists of posts grouped by categories, tags, dates, authors, or other taxonomies. This template helps users navigate your older content easily. Whether they’re looking for past blog entries or specific topics, archive templates ensure that your content is structured and accessible. It typically includes navigation links and a search bar, making it a valuable feature for content-heavy sites.

Structure of a template

Templates in WordPress are essential for creating the look of your site. They control how your content looks on the front end. Here’s a basic overview of the key parts of a WordPress template:

  • Header: The header is found at the top of a webpage. It usually contains the site title, logo, and navigation menu. You’ll often find this code in a header.php file.
  • Footer: The footer appears at the bottom of the page. It might contain copyright information, links, and social media icons. This part of the template is typically stored in a footer.php file.
  • Content area: The content area is the main part where your posts and pages appear. This is where the bulk of your text, images, and other content goes. Templates manage how this content is displayed.
  • Template parts: Sometimes, templates are broken into smaller parts. These parts can be reused across different templates. For example, you might have a sidebar or a widget that appears on multiple pages. This makes the design more consistent.
  • CSS and styles: CSS files define the styles for your templates. They control things like colors, fonts, and layout. Each template will usually link to a style.css file to ensure everything looks polished and consistent.

Here’s a simple example of how these parts come together in a template:

<!DOCTYPE html>



  <title>Your Site Title</title>

  <link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="style.css">



  <?php get_header(); ?>

  <div class="content-area"> 

    <!-- Content will be displayed here -->


  <?php get_footer(); ?>



Using these parts, you can create a cohesive and well-structured website. Each part plays a critical role in your site’s design and functionality.

How to identify and edit templates

To identify and edit WordPress templates, start by visiting your site’s dashboard.

  1. Navigate to Appearance > Editor. In the left sidebar, click on the Templates option.
  2. On the main page area, you’ll see template previews. Click on a thumbnail to open it in the editor.
  3. To edit a specific template, select Posts > Add New or Pages > Add New. This opens the WordPress Block Editor
  4. In the Post/Page Settings sidebar tab, click the name of the template under the Summary section. A popup will appear. Select Edit template.

Another method is through the Site Editor, which allows you to access and modify templates directly within your website’s structure. Templates utilize various blocks to create page designs, including headers, sidebars, and footers, which are reusable patterns. You may also come across custom templates designed for specific pages or posts, giving them a unique appearance. Each template has a slug, a unique identification string used within WordPress, which can help you locate and manage specific templates more efficiently. Template files are stored in your theme’s directory and can be edited by opening them in a code editor.

Best practices for using templates

When you understand what a WordPress template is, you can make the most of it by following some best practices.

  1. Choose a theme that meets your site’s needs. Different themes have different templates and features. Pick one that works well with your site’s purpose.
  2. Before you apply changes, create a child theme. This prevents you from losing customizations when the main theme updates.
  3. Organize your templates logically. Name your templates clearly to know what each one does. For example, a template for blog posts can be named single-post-template.php.
  4. Utilize custom post types effectively. Create custom templates for each post type to ensure they display correctly. This helps maintain a consistent look and feel.
  5. When working on page layouts, make use of WordPress’s block editor. This allows you to easily drag and drop elements, making your design process smoother.
  6. Test your templates on different devices. Make sure your site looks good on mobile, tablet, and desktop.
  7. Regularly backup your site. Backups ensure that you can restore your site if something goes wrong with your templates or customizations.
  8. Use lists and bullet points for easy readability. They help break down complex information into simple parts.
  9. Keep your templates clean and minimal. Overloading a template with too many elements can slow down your site.
  10. When customizing, make small changes and test them. This way, you can quickly find and fix any issues. 

By following these best practices, you can make sure your WordPress templates are effective and efficient.

In conclusion, understanding what is a WordPress template can be essential to create a professional and consistent website. Additionally, templates define your site’s layout, including headers, sidebars, and footers, and can be customized to fit your needs. They save time and ensure your site looks uniform across all pages.