Are you ready to turn your average WordPress theme into a dynamic website that drives traffic? Your website is the first impression for many potential customers or followers. Your WordPress theme design and functionality are imperative in creating a long-lasting impact.
WordPress is the most powerful and popular website content management system (CMS) on the market today. Its customizable platform helps to create an outstanding WordPress blog or business website.
WordPress developers can turn website dreams into realities with endless design and functionality possibilities.
Should You Customize Your WordPress Template for your Theme?
Every WordPress template is built with a series of files that work together to make a functioning website. Depending on the website’s purpose, a WordPress developer can add simple or complex changes to improve the functionality.
While not every website needs the same features, custom WordPress templates provide the following advantages:
- Unique and eye-catching designs
- Alternative templates for different features and search results
- Layout flexibility if needed to switch design in the future
The bottom line, no matter how small or big, there is always going to be something from the original theme that you’d like to change.
Whether this is a WordPress template for business or personal use, it’s important to identify your website goals when finding the theme and determining the customization needed.
If developed correctly, custom WordPress templates will help you create the perfect website.
How To Customize Your WordPress Template for your Theme
There are several ways to customize a WordPress template. However, every developer will understand the following coding languages for ultimate functionality:
- WordPress site design & layout standards
While developers can easily alter design and functionality, the platform is built for most people to make adjustments. So, don’t let the coding and structure deter you from developing your perfect custom WordPress theme.
Furthermore, we will be discussing the most popular ways to create a custom WordPress template.
WordPress Customizer will help you modify the color theme, logo, background appearance, menus and more. With this feature, you can develop your WordPress template in real-time. Pretty cool, right?
Every WordPress theme allows developers to update the details through this built-in program and has proved to be user-friendly. Understanding the WordPress Customizer is vital in changing your theme’s appearance and features.
You can find the Customizer by navigating to wp-admin / Appearance / Themes / Customize.
It is important to note that the functionality of this module depends on how the original WordPress developers set up its utilization. Certain free themes may not have much WordPress customization. Additionally, certain WordPress plugins may offer different customizable modules.
With many features available to customize, spend time going through the individual modules in the WordPress Customizer. With thousands of templates available, different WordPress themes will have different Customizer options.
For example, your WordPress theme may have the possibility for custom footers, buttons, social icons, menus, and more. However, you can always count on the following modules to customize in any WordPress template, such as:
The header is one of the most impactful design elements on a WordPress template because it sets you apart from everyone else.
To update the header, click “Header” and then “Add new image.” Depending on your theme, the header pixel size will vary. It’s important to stay within the parameters, so SEO and site speed is optimized.
Logo & Favicon
A website’s logo and favicon, or site icon, is an extremely important element in terms of recognition and company branding. In the Customizer, find the “Site Identity” location to upload both assets.
In good practice, the company logo and favicon should be a transparent PNG file and sized correctly for the placement. Favicons are visually best represented without any text and typically just an image. Therefore to upload, you simply need to “Select Logo” and “Select Image” in the Site Icon section.
Most WordPress themes will allow developers to customize the default colors for links, texts, backgrounds, and more. The website’s color is an important branding style element and will help you establish your digital identity.
Whether you are customizing a WordPress blog or business site, a custom background is an important element to alter. With options like adding a background color or image, you will be presented with a decision on how the background is displayed: Background Repeat, Background Position, or Background Attachment.
Having properly formatted menus are extremely important to improve user experience and navigate your website. Additionally, WordPress offers a lot of flexibility in terms of customizing your main navigation bar and the sidebars.
If you’re a WordPress developer or beginner, you can try editing stylesheets directly in the Customizer’s built-in CSS editor or work in the Advanced CSS editor. This can be accessed in Appearance / Edit CSS.
It’s important to note that altering a WordPress template’s CSS will only change the style aesthetically. So if you’re looking to alter the functionality or make structural changes, you will need to either use WordPress plugins or create a child theme.
Additionally, there are a lot of plugins to help make necessary custom WordPress theme updates. These plugins, sometimes free, allow developers to change both the style and functionality of the WordPress template. These powerful add-ons help with the following:
- Add powerful visual elements without advanced CSS knowledge
- Drag and drop page editors that give extra dynamic appearances
- Change blocks and page layouts from the front-end development
- Update content, images, and other content
Front-end design plugins give developers control over the website design and are oftentimes easy for WordPress beginners to understand. Finding the right WordPress plugin will depend on what customization you’re looking to achieve.
Here are a few of our favorites:
- Elementor: This is a live page builder that is loaded with editing features for columns, images, spacing, lists and more. Elementor offers both pre-built templates as well as custom CSS style changes.
- Beaver Builder: Beaver Builder is a drag-and-drop widget builder that creates professional designs. The simple interface is a great way to create custom WordPress templates and avoids using confusing shortcodes.
- Visual Composer: As the most popular WordPress customizer plugin, this program allows designers to take full control of their layouts with a simple drag-and-drop editor.
WordPress Child Theme
If you do have more advanced coding knowledge, creating a child theme is a popular way to customize a WordPress template without being constricted by limitations.
This process is relatively simple because the parent theme already contains all the original coding data. Subsequently, child themes rely on the parent theme’s data to use it’s functionality as much as possible.
In order to improve the design and functionality, a developer only needs to enhance pieces of the child’s code and overwrite it where desired. A child theme is layered on top of the parent theme and will continue to mimic the parent theme until coded to do otherwise.
For example, if your child theme has an index.html file but not an about.html, your site will take the index.html from the child and the about.html from the parent. With this method, the existing template can be altered without the fear of losing changes with an update.
After carefully and securely creating child theme folders, your new theme will begin to appear in the Appearance tab on the admin’s dashboard. You can activate them immediately to see how they look on the front-end. When you first upload the theme, it may look exactly the same because the parent theme still manages the main files, styles, and views.
Finally, if you start seeing changes to the website after setting up a child theme, you’ve successfully begun creating a custom WordPress theme. With adding more changes to the child theme, you are instilling more customization within the WordPress template.
Child themes help improve functionality
- Overwriting entire file: Often used for structural adjustments, like replacing elements or eliminating functionality.
- Adding additional style and design: CSS changes are the easiest way to change the design and add on style, like repositioning the sidebar or changing colors.
- Applying modular hooks: More complicated, using hooks changes the theme and allows you to adjust core functionality, like images and content lengths.
Although a child theme does create more opportunities for style and functionality customization, it should only be used by WordPress developers who are familiar with code.
Test Your WordPress Template
After you have developed the perfect custom WordPress template, you need to test its functionality, SEO, mobile-friendliness, and more. If you want to have an effective site, then testing is just as important as designing.
You can test your WordPress theme through a series of automated and manual tests. Both Google and Bing offer Mobile Optimizing tests which will show if your website is mobile-friendly. Therefore if it’s not, you will have to go back into the source code and make some edits.
Be sure to run through all links, buttons, menu, etc. to verify that your theme is filed and structured correctly. Especially if you customized a child theme, there could be elements that became disconnected.
It’s also important to verify your permalink structure to ensure it can be crawled efficiently for SEO purposes. Thus plain WordPress isn’t optimized for SEO, in best practice use the “Post name” permalink setting.
Lastly, your site is visible to Google and you enable traffic analytics. Learning from analytics is a great way to customize your site in the future based on your engagement metrics.
Creating Custom Content for your WordPress Template
Once you’ve enticed users to your website with your custom WordPress theme, it’s important to show custom content that adds value to the user’s experience.
Depending on your business or blog site, your content will vary and provide different purposes. However, no matter your website goals, your content and WordPress theme need to display consistency. Popular content pages include:
- Services / Products
Creating a custom WordPress template will help your website make a long-lasting impact on potential customers or followers. If you develop valuable functionality, attractive appearance and unique content–your website will deliver results.
Moreover, if you use the WordPress Customizer, custom CSS or develop a separate child theme, WordPress offers a user-friendly platform to create unique websites for multiple purposes. Finally, by customizing your theme, you’re able to have a perfect website to suit your needs.
How is your WordPress template customized?
Share with us in the comments below!