If you are new to the world of websites and in particular WordPress websites it can be overwhelming and confusing to know what everyone is talking about.

Clients have told me that I am great at simplifying these things down so here goes an explanation in my words of what I mean when we are talking.

WordPress, Themes, and Plugins WHAT they are and WHY you need to know.

    • WordPress is the “framework” used for many websites. There are others, but let’s stick to WP for now.
    • Inside the framework we have the “Theme” which is basically a set structure that allows you to do things such as customising your site with colours, allowing different sections, and a bunch of other things to make it easy so we don’t have to reinvent the wheel with your site ( stand-alone WordPress doesn’t come with this it needs a Theme).


    • Connected / within both of these each website that is created also generally needs additional functionality that doesn’t come standard and again rather than having to code a whole bunch of stuff (like we did in the old days) we have the option to get addon bits of code and add this to your site as needed. In WordPress, these addons are called “Plugins”. Plugins are developed by 3rd Party developers and basically enhance the website with further functionality. Examples of this are enhancements for forms on your site or Search Engine Optimisation functions to your pages and a whole rabbit hole of wonderful things which can be added on as needed.


    • Once these three things are compiled WordPress (Framework), Theme (Structure), Plugins (add-ons) then all these comprise your website.

      As a designer/developer I am very selective about the Themes and plugins that are used on my clients and my own websites. In addition to that, there is the consideration that like most technology apps and software today as technology grows all these things regularly need updating.

In order to use a theme and plugin and for the developers to ongoingly support them with available updates you need to purchase a license to use that software and then that generally needs to be updated annually. Depending on your theme or plugin I will purchase a license and will update that under my developers’ contract.

Before you ask YES you can get FREE themes and plugins, BUT..

Some third-party developers will develop a plugin and let you use part of it for free but if you want to use additional features you will have to pay. These usually can be updated regularly and there is no problem.  Depending on what the functionality or use sometimes it’s ok to use free components other times it most definitely is not.

  • For example, I had one client who had her site done elsewhere and was done by using a theme that was no longer supported by the developers (which often happens with the free stuff or the themes that have low profile developers) and as new updates for WordPress came out her site kept breaking cause she was unable to update the theme eventually the bits didn’t talk to one another. So basically this mean her site was broken, she left it for a while as she didn’t know what to do and was a bit overwhelmed, she had spent alot of time and money getting the site to where it was, so it was stagnant and then after a while, her site also got hacked (as there were loopholes in her theme cause it was using old technology) and after many headaches, she basically had to start her whole site again.


At dcSPARK having been doing websites for over 26years, I have been around the block a few times I am always looking out what is best for my client’s long term and what is easiest for us both. I am always upfront with explaining the key things Clients need to be aware of with websites, so many times people have come to me from other developers who have not explained things properly.

We always use themes and plugins that are well supported by the developers so that there are fewer headaches ongoingly.
Our favourite WordPress Theme is Divi by Elegant Themes but I have many used other builders many have a similar concept. I also regularly use Gravity Forms for added functionality (including payment options) for forms. You will note that every developer will have their favourites but there are some common ones that will stand the test of time.

I try to avoid Clients buying additional licenses as they can be more costly to buy individually and my developments will often include 1 year of license with the project for key themes and plugins and any recommended plugins for their site will be discussed so that they know upfront what the ongoing costs will be. Many of my clients are also long-term and generally will also work with me throughout the year. So they are welcome to have their website cared for under my WebsiteCare Package (which means their site will be backed up, WordPress, theme & plugins are updated) and also means as a valued add that their key licenses such as Gravity forms and Divi themes will be updated during the update.

I hope this has helped explain WordPress, Themes & Plugins. Please let us know if you have any other questions you would like answered, I love providing support and deciphering the tech.