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Themes/Plugins Relationship

Description

In this module, you will learn how themes and plugins relate to each other as well as when and why you would want to use one or the other.

Objectives

At the end of this lesson, you will be able to:

  • Fully understand what a theme is, what a plugin is, and the difference between the two, as well as the relationship each has upon the other
  • Understand that a theme controls the visual representation of a website, while a plugin is used to control functionality
  • Choose the correct tool for the job

 Prerequisite Skills

You will be better equipped to work through this lesson if you have experience in and familiarity with:

Assets

  • A basic WordPress site installed on a local host where students can be shown the various aspects of themes and plugins

Screening Questions

  • What is the purpose of a theme?
  • What is the purpose of a plug-in?
  • Does anyone have an example of a plugin at work?

Teacher Notes

  • Time Estimate: 15 minutes
  • For this lesson, we are assuming that the student has a basic understanding of how to set up a WordPress site and has chosen and installed themes and plugins.
  • The preferred answers to the screening questions is “yes.” Participants who reply “no” to all questions may not be ready for this lesson.

Hands-on Walkthrough

  1. Have students install a theme on their WordPress site which has previously been set up and is running on a local host.
  2. Point out the various areas of the theme, such as colors, fonts, and how the content is laid out.
  3. Instruct the students to install several plugins such as Jetpack and Gravity Forms.
  4. Demonstrate the functionality of the plugins to the students.
  5. Show the students the WordPress Plugin Repository.
  6. Show the students individual plugins in the repository and how to look for compatibility requirements.
  7. Point out to students that if you add functionality through a plugin, you will be able to switch themes and that functionality will still work and the data will still be there to be displayed through your new theme.  As an example, let’s say you have a portfolio on your site displaying photographs and you code that into your theme. You decide six months later that you want to change your theme to give your site a new look. When you change your theme, you lose your portfolio because you built that information into the specific theme instead of keeping the look and functionality separate.

Exercises

Experiment with themes and plugins. Practice with installing, activating, deactivating, and deleting themes and plugins.

  1. Create a WordPress site or log into your existing WordPress site.
  2. Browse the WordPress.org Theme Directory, find an attractive theme, and install it.
  3. What has changed on your site?
  4. Students should then deactivate the theme and install a different one.
  5. Explore the changes to the site.
  6. Browse the WordPress.org Plugin Directory, find a plugin that interests you, and install it.
  7. What has changed on your site?

Point Out to Students

  • If you add functionality through a plugin, you will be able to switch themes and that functionality will still work and the data will still be there to be displayed through your new theme.
  • As an example, let’s say you have a portfolio on your site displaying photographs and you code that into your theme. You decide six months later that you want to change your theme to give your site a new look. When you change your theme, you lose your portfolio because you built that information into the specific theme instead of keeping the look and functionality separate.

Quiz

  1. What is a theme and what is it used for?
  2. What is a plugin and what is it used for?

Answers: 1. A theme is used to give your site it looks (styling) including, but not limited to fonts, colors, and the overall layout. 2. A plugin is used to give, take away or change elements on your website.