How to Customize WordPress Theme for Beginners
One of the most popular CMS or content management systems you will find is WordPress. More than one-third of the internet is currently running on WordPress. One of the key reasons for the popularity is exceptional flexibility. You can use the CMS to create and customize almost any type of website including an individual blog or a much larger-scale site. The way to start is to find a theme you associate with that works well with your brand.
From there, you can start your customization for the creations of a unique website. To be successful, you need to understand how your WordPress theme can be customized to perfectly align with your brand. Before you can understand how to customize a theme in WordPress, you need to understand the basics. The WordPress platform enables you to handle customizations simply and easily within the platform. When you work with WordPress, you do not customize the core.
You will be making your edits using what is commonly referred to as a WordPress theme. This is simply a collection of CSS stylesheets and templates you can use for the creation of a unique design. Many of the themes available through WordPress also offer a collection of templates. A template is a version of a theme pre-built with specific changes, theme settings and customizations already in place. Everything is dependent on the theme you choose.
A good example is the themes offering dozens of templates for you to install. You can choose from a wide variety of configurations until you find the right look for your website. You need to understand the terms WordPress template and WordPress theme are essentially interchangeable. How to customize WordPress theme is dependent on the template and configuration you select for your site.
Choose and Customize a Theme in WordPress
The information in this article will teach you how to customize your WordPress theme. Before you can begin customization, you need to find a theme with a design you are pleased with. This will eliminate the need to make any major structural changes later on. You will have a style capable of bringing your brand to life. There are three major considerations in choosing your WordPress theme detailed below.
Selecting a Quality WordPress Theme
How to customize WordPress themes for beginners begins with eliminating any template with poor coding. This will negatively impact the performance of your website and you will be vulnerable to hackers. Even if you find a theme with an incredible design, it will not make any difference if it does not load. You do not need to look at every codebase individually. Even if you did, you would most likely not know what you were looking for.
Your best option is to look for theme providers doing business for many years. Poor quality themes generally fade away as time passes. Take the time to read the user reviews. If most of the reviews are negative, find a different theme. If you see a lot of positive reviews regarding the quality, you can usually assume using the theme is a good choice. You can also find a lot of themes available through the WordPress library. For example, TheGem has four-hundred templates and is highly recommended on WordPress:
(Image Credit: Colorlib)
Understanding Your Requirements
Just because a theme is ideal for someone else does not mean it is right for your website. Before you start your search for the perfect theme, consider the type of features you require, your brand and your individual needs. A good example is a theme created for an eCommerce store. The features will be completely different than a theme designed for a lawn care portfolio. WordPress enables you to locate themes created for specific market niches including:
- Boutique shops
Here is an example of a theme only meant for businesses selling jewelry:
(Image Credit: aThemes)
If you do not find a theme for your specific niche, you can use an all-in-one template. This will enable you to make the customizations necessary for your business. You can always add additional features with a plugin.
When you consider how to customize your WordPress theme, remember the importance of a responsive and dedicated support team. Make certain there is a support method suitable for your needs. The most common types of support are live chat, email and phone. You will most likely not receive the same level of support when you use a free theme. You can check WordPress forums to determine how often user requests receive a response.
In addition to support, make certain your WordPress theme is consistently updated. As WordPress continues to evolve, your theme will require patches, updates and bug fixes to stay functional. Once you understand how WordPress works and have chosen a good theme, you can begin your customization.
Information Necessary to Customize a WordPress Theme
Before learning how to customize my WordPress theme, consider the assets of your brand. You need to have a solid theme in place to create your website quicker while eliminating errors such as mismatching colors. If your brand is neon pink, you do not want to use a bright orange background because the colors do not match properly and tend to blend together. You should have certain design elements in place before proceeding including:
- A completed logo in different sizes and versions is helpful depending on the requirements of your theme.
- Make a list of the specific colors you intend to use for your site including the HEX code.
- All graphics and images you will be using for your website.
You also need to have a basic concept for the appearance of your website. Consider a scrolling homepage in a parallax-style, which side you want your menu on, the placement of your header and a full-page slider beneath your logo. All of the above are customization options for your website. You can find design elements and trends by looking at some of the websites of your competitors. Make certain the theme you choose aligns with your design from the beginning to avoid any major changes later on.
How Do I Customize My WordPress Theme and Templates?
Before you ask how do I customize my WordPress theme, remember there is a wide range of different options available. The most common methods to edit a WordPress website are detailed below. These options are 100 percent beginner-friendly with no coding or design skills necessary for customization.
Using the WordPress Customizer
A built-in tool is included with WordPress called Customizer. You can use this tool for customizing your website without any changes required for your site’s code. Although this is not an in-depth tool for customization, you can make simpler customizations including making changes to your layout, logo and color scheme. To access Customizer, go to your WordPress dashboard then navigate to Appearance>Customize. For instance:
(Image Credit: WPBeginner)
After you have clicked on Customizer and opened the tool, you will see a menu on the left of your screen. This shows which elements of your website can be edited. The elements of your site will be different depending on the theme you have selected. For the majority of themes, the following elements can be changed.
(Image Credit: GavickPro)
This is where you can customize numerous aspects of your layout including headers, sidebars and navigation. You can also change the appearance and size of your layout elements.
Title and Logo
You can change the tagline for your website, upload your logo and customize the size in this section.
Your options include adding new menus for your website, creating new menus and deciding where everything will be displayed.
What you are able to customize in this section depends on your theme. You can customize your widgetized sections and customize them to your liking.
This is where the typography for your website can be customized. You should only choose a maximum of two fonts for the majority of your site or the impact will most likely be negative.
You can customize the color scheme for your website in addition to changing the color of your text, background, links, headers and a lot more.
The WordPress Customizer is a powerful tool providing you with the ability to make a lot of changes throughout your website. You will see your customizations in real-time. This enables you to make certain you are pleased before publishing your changes live.
Built-In Options to Customize a WordPress Theme
This customization tool is also dependent on the theme you are using. Certain themes offer built-in options enabling customization of almost every aspect. Others only offer you extreme basics. You need to go to your WordPress dashboard to access the options for your theme. You should see a section on the left of your screen displaying the same name as your installed theme. You can view the available options for customization simply by clicking.
The theme options panel will show the modifications you can make with your chosen theme. The majority of customizations you can make for your website involve either the Elementor plugin or the WordPress Customizer. If you require features not provided with your theme, you can add new features by using plugins.
Making Customizations via CSS
The appearance of your website is controlled by CSS or cascading style sheets. This includes the colors, typography and spacing of your site. The CSS code of your website controls more of its appearance than the core files of your theme. Before you make any changes, make certain you do not change your core CSS file. Making mistakes is easy and can compromise your website’s design. The best way to make changes to your WordPress website is through the Customizer.
Go to your WordPress dashboard and open the Customizer. Near the bottom of your screen you will see Additional CSS. Select this option, then type in your CSS code to start customizing your website. Your changes will appear automatically in your editor. You do not have to use the Customizer. You can also use several different plugins to make CSS changes for your website. There are plugins available enabling customization of your WordPress theme.
(Image Credit: WPBeginner)
Most of the plugins available offer several useful features making it a lot easier for beginners to edit their CSS. Certain plugins offer an inspector tool. This enables you to highlight specific areas of your website. You can also see the specific CSS code you will need to change. Numerous plugins also offer a visual editor. Not only does this allow you to make changes to your CSS, but you can also view them in real-time.
Look for a plugin with an editor offering advanced features. This will assist you in writing clean code without any errors. Once you have chosen the plugin you want to use, it needs to be installed. You can then begin editing your CSS easily and quickly.
Using a Page Builder Plugin
The WordPress plugins offer you the functionality of drag-and-drop. This feature is extremely common for the majority of website builders currently available. This provides beginners with complete control when designing their website. You do not need to know how to use code for this feature.
Your plugin will create the underlying code you require automatically as you rearrange or add different elements to your site. There are a ton of options for page builder plugins available through WordPress. This will enable you to add more functionality to your site. The most frequently used are detailed below.
Elementor Page Builder
The Elementor page builder offers you drag-and-drop functionality and a live preview feature. There is a wide range of different types of features included such as testimonial sections, unique sliders and simple text widgets. The Elementor also provides you with template options already pre-built. You can add them directly to your pages and website. You can customize your website quickly simply by using the pre-built sections.
(Image Credit: WPBeginner)
Divi Page Builder
The Divi plugin is both a page builder and a theme for WordPress. In the past, you could only use the Divi page builder plugin if you were using the Divi theme. This has changed and you can now use the Divi plugin no matter which theme you have chosen. You can use this plugin for all WordPress and third-party themes.
Once the plugin is installed, you will be granted access to a drag-and-drop editor with a lot of power including a built-in responsive design and real-time editing. The Divi plugin also includes a large selection of pre-built modules. You will find complete websites you can customize quickly and easily.
(Image Credit: Elegant Themes)
Beaver Builder Plugin
The Beaver Builder is a fast and simple to use plugin for WordPress including a page builder with the drag-and-drop feature. You can customize different elements of your website by dragging them to the editor. The options panel is built-in, enabling you to customize any element. You can create the layout for your website using more than 30 available templates. The plugin is equipped with an extensive variety of elements including:
- Content blocks
- Background options
You can customize the layout and pages of your website with a drag-and-drop builder as soon as you have finished installing your plugin. Be careful because not every theme is compatible with every plugin. If you are experiencing issues with your plugin, there might be a problem with the compatibility of your theme. If you decide to use a plugin, make certain there is no known compatibility issue with your theme.
No matter which plugin you choose, the functionality is similar. The simplest and easiest option is to use the WordPress Customizer and a theme from the WordPress library. Not only are some of the plugins more difficult to use for beginners, but you will also have to pay a fee for many of them.
Customize the Design for Your WordPress Theme
You should now understand the basics of editing and customizing your WordPress theme for both your website and brand. There is a wide range of options available enabling you to customize your WordPress theme. In answer to the question of how to customize your WordPress theme, it is dependent on your comfort level and existing skills. You might find all you need to do to complete your website is to make a few changes with the Customizer.
Diib®: Core Metrics for Your WordPress Website
Customizing your WordPress theme may seem easy and straightforward, however, it can be difficult to know how it is perceived by your viewers. Diib Digital can give you analytics and metrics regarding your website, bounce rate and CTR, which should give you a good idea how people view your website. Here are some of the features we’re sure you’re going to love:
- Customized Objectives give you analysis on your WordPress website and design
- Alerts that tell you about your Domain Authority other technical SEO issues
- Bounce rate monitoring
- Post performance
- Broken pages where you have backlinks (404 checker)
- Keyword, backlink, and indexing monitoring and tracking tools
- User experience and mobile speed optimization
Click here for your free scan or simply call 800-303-3510 to speak to one of our growth experts.
Yes, WordPress themes can and are customizable. Whether you are looking to change the theme right in your customization settings or you want to download a plugin with most of the work done, it couldn’t be easier.
Login to your WordPress Dashboard. Next, from the “appearance” menu on the left hand side of the dashboard, select the “menus” option to bring up the menu editor. Select “create a new menu” at the top of the page. Enter a name for your new menu in the “menu name box”. Click the “create menu” button.
Login to your WordPress administration panel. Navigate to links on the left and type in the url you want to have for this menu button, add link text to specify what the tab will say. Then click add to the menu.
This is a shortened URL that you customize yourself before sharing.
Go over to appearance in menus and click on the screen options button at the top right corner of the screen. This will bring up a fly down menu, from there you need to check the box next to the CSS classes option. Finally, scroll down to the menu item that you want to modify and click to expand.