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How to Customize a WordPress Theme

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James Cummings
December 14, 2017


James Cummings
Netcast Events

James Cummings has written 1 articles for CGIDir.
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The hardest part about WordPress themes is finding a theme you like. Once you’ve done that, it's time for the fun part, customizing your theme to fit your website needs. Design is a major factor in site conversion so you need to design your site to be unique and attractive for your target audience.

WordPress is one of easiest, low maintenance methods to convert your web design to a working website which explains its status as the most popular CMS. Apart from being easy to set up, you can choose from two hosting plans such as free or paid hosting. Paid hosting is ideal for e-commerce websites. There are several web hosting giants, such as  www.openhost.co.nz/wordpress-hosting/ that offer 24/7 hosting support so you can leverage your time and scale your business.   

Once your website is running, customizing your WordPress theme is the next step. Theme customisation is how you set your site and brand apart from other similar competitors. Hence, this article guides you through WordPress theme customization.

Customizing WordPress theme

WordPress themes are categorized under basic, intermediate and advanced level customization.

Basic level WordPress customization

Load your theme: Hover the mouse over appearance in the sidebar and pick themes, your downloaded theme appears, hit customize. You don’t require coding skills for this level as all the edits are made from the admin panel.

Use the sidebarto make changes to each section of theme.

Edit site identity: This includes the tagline, site icon and title so make sure it captivates the visitor at first glance because it is the first thing they will see on your site. Hit save and proceed to the next section after making changes.

Choose colours: The options vary with different themes but you can set colours and font from here. Colours are a difficult decision because it has to complement your header image so pick something simple like grey or white as a safe bet.

C:\Users\Chimma E\Downloads\pexels-photo-69432.jpeg

Photo credit: pexels.com

Header and background picture: most themes have a large header picture at the top but you don’t have to follow the crowd. Find an image that properly represents your brand.

Add menuby clicking menu under the appearance option, and pick the position of the menu on your site. Depending on what your theme allows, you can add what you need. Don’t play around with widgets or mess with logo until you’ve got more content on the site.

Widgets: you can find all widgets under appearance option, from there you will see which sections of the page you can include widgets. Simply click on a section to add widget.

Static Front Page. You can either let WordPress show your most recent articles on the home page or set a custom page as home page.

Intermediate WordPress customization

People with knowledge about CSS could revamp the outlook of a website. You can include personalized CSS to you WordPress theme but it will be dependent on your theme selection. Every time you change a theme, all CSS edits vanish and this is a problem when you have to customise universal selectors such as header or body. To prevent this unpleasant situation, several plugins customize CSS and allows you to write a theme-independent unique CSS. Options include My Custom CSS and Simple CSS, among others.

Advanced WordPress customization

A rookie mistake that some people make is not using child themes. Never make direct changes to your core theme files, you mess with perfection and lose all your hard work when you update the theme. Working with offline files and creating child themes are the best ways to change the core code.

This way you have the original files when there is an issue tweaking the theme and you can upload them to override your changes.

Creating child theme for your customized Word Press Theme

Create a folder with your child theme name on your local pc with one file. A recommended naming pattern isyourthemename-child. Hence, for Jevelin theme it would be called Jevelin-child-parentname.

The single file inside the folder should be named style.css. Paste this code to the style.css file.

C:\Users\Chimma E\Downloads\wordpress-876983_1920.jpg

Photo credit: pixabay.com

This code includes general data but you must edit the template line to display the main theme name for your child theme, in this case, Jevelin

The final line of code to provide styling information will have the same design as the main theme.

@import url("../Jevelin/style.css");

After making all the offline changes, save your file and upload the child theme to your WordPress. With your child theme online, you customize just about anything within a theme such as new menu, functions, template, widgets and custom styling among others. You can also add plugins like WP Domain Checker to your site so your users can easily search generic top-level domain or country-code top-level domains.

In conclusion, WordPress theme customization is so much fun when you have background knowledge. You can create a spectacular website with an exceptional look that offers the best user experience for your visitors so unleash your design abilities because you now possess the power to customize properly. Remember that WordPress has its’ own way of doing things so you follow their rules, use the right theme for your blog and take advantage of built-in theme functionality.


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