Difference Between WordPress Themes and Plugins

The beautification of websites gained popularity in the digital business arena due to the introduction of various online tools. Themes and plugins are two such ways to enhance content but they differ in some aspects. As far as WordPress is concerned, the themes and plugins are equally important due to the simplistic design of the website. 

WordPress Themes vs WordPress Plugins

The main difference between WordPress themes and WordPress plugins is that the former can be used to make the website look more attractive while the latter focuses only on improving the existing features. Themes can be customized to act as plugins, but the replacement is not possible in most WordPress plugins. 

WordPress Themes vs WordPress Plugins

Themes lead to better visibility as well as increased functionality. They control the overall appearance and cater to the editing needs at the same time. It is easier to organize the content on the website using themes, instead of spending hours working on similar issues one by one. Themes cover up all the previous formatting patterns. 

On the contrary, plugins serve no more than altering the functions performed by the website. Such changes do not affect the background information in any way. In other words, one can expand the scope of functions using advanced plugins without amending the web site’s basic structure. A WordPress plugin is easy-to-use complimentary software. 

Comparison Table Between WordPress Themes and WordPress Plugins

Parameters of ComparisonWordPress ThemeWordPress Plugin
DefinitionIt is a simple software that helps users improve the visibility of the website content. It is a complex software that helps users increase the doability of the main website.
Type of SoftwareThe software is external. The software is internal.
FunctionIt makes the existing content look better. It expands the variety of functions that can be performed on the content after creation.
Scope A singular theme can be used at a time.Multiple plugins can be applied at a time.
Combined EffectThemes can replace plugins. Plugins cannot replace themes.

What are WordPress Themes?

WordPress themes include all the customizations that can be performed on the way the website’s final draft looks. There are various types of themes available under WordPress. The two most distinctive types include single-purpose and multipurpose themes. The second category (multipurpose WordPress themes) is highly significant.

This is because users do not have the option to apply more than one theme at once. Therefore, the multipurpose themes allow greater changes irrespective of the main motive. There is a separate classification for photography and other technological aspects, known as niche themes. There are numerous other sub-categories available under the same, in order to aid the user in customizing the website freely.

The most astounding feature about WordPress themes is that they can be altered to suit the needs of the particular site. Colors, sizes, and a lot more can be fixed without changing the type of theme. The only prerequisite is timely installment so that the adaptability is not hampered while the work is going on as per the respective theme.

What are WordPress Plugins?

It is essential to understand the concept of website functionality before working with plugins. This feature is completely dependent on the scope of improvement that remains apart from the original website features. Among other significant things, functionality refers to all the activities that can be performed by the person working on the website post necessary edits.

Numerous simple plugins come with theme packages to make for a better combination. The complicated plugins need a completely different procedure as the setup is a bit more difficult as compared to the common WordPress plugins. Apart from adding additional functions, plugins have no advanced features. This indicates the narrow scope of this software.

The last step includes embedding the concerned plugin into the WordPress site. The customizations are limited but there is a plugin for each and every desired function.

Main Differences Between WordPress Themes and WordPress Plugins

  1. WordPress themes are used to improve how the particular website looks while WordPress plugins step up the functionality of the website.
  2. Themes comprise external software while plugins comprise internal software.
  3. Themes can improve the visibility of existing content only while plugins enhance what all can be done on the website with the content created afterward.
  4. Only one WordPress theme can be applied at a time while more than one WordPress plugin can be used at a time.
  5. WordPress themes can be used in place of plugins but plugins cannot do what themes can do.


The utility of WordPress depends upon the combined effect of themes and plugins. Certain alternatives are in-built while some other advanced ones need to be downloaded from third-party applications. The main work of both the software is to expand the scope of the website. WordPress themes are limited to appearance and can also help the user have a glimpse of what plugins have to offer.

As far as the distinctions are concerned, the functions are not much exclusive. The common motive is enhancement but different work areas are tackled by themes and plugins respectively. Based on the improvement criteria, either of these features can be employed to suit the needs of the client. The most essential functions are possible only by the apt combination of both.

Before using themes or plugins, the person handling the website must take care of the backup work. It has been established that themes overdo all the previous editing and change the website content as per the protocol designed for the same. There is no such threat while working with plugins. Overall, one can use themes and plugins together to easily extract more work out of a normal WordPress website.


  1. https://www.koreascience.or.kr/article/JAKO201713842133778.page
  2. https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/abstract/document/7503709/
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